I’ve never been one to treat where I stay on holiday as just somewhere to rest my head. I fully believe that where you choose to sleep makes or breaks a trip and since adding a mini traveller to our family that could not be truer.
Nailing the perfect location (I have been known to Google map the nearest cafe before booking a hotel) is just one aspect of finding the right place to stay on a family holiday. I like to stay somewhere that reflects my surroundings and is a bit quirky.
I want to feel like I’m far from home, but also want all my home comforts in this new place. (Fussy? Me? Absolutely!)
I want convenience yet luxury, and now that we’re travelling with a baby, I’m looking for places that provide some of the ridiculous amount of equipment that small people need.
Amazingly, we stayed in some gorgeous places that met all of these demands in our first year of travelling as a family, so I thought I would share how exactly we found these baby friendly boltholes, as well as some stylish family friendly holiday homes I’m considering for 2020.
For anyone else who doesn’t want to compromise their travel style since having kids, here are 5 ways you can book stylish family-friendly properties.
(Note: None of our stays were sponsored but this post includes some affiliate links. Click here for details.)
5 ways to find child friendly holiday homes & hotels that are totally chic
I must credit my husband for introducing us to the concept of AirBnb Plus. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a collection of Airbnb properties that have been handpicked for their style, quality and comfort, from hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail.
All the properties have been visited and quality-checked in person, so you know you’re getting exactly what’s on the listing, and in some cases that list is very extensive.
We tested an AirBnb Plus out in Melbourne and it really was a step above compared to other properties we’ve stayed in. The cottage was stylish yet homely, well equipped but luxurious. Think: sumptuous linen bedding, Aesop toiletries, a folder of local foodie recommendations and a fresh loaf of sourdough on the table.
We were so impressed with the décor (jotting down ideas for our future home) and how everything seemed to have been well thought out, that I immediately turned on the Plus filter while searching for places to stay in Puglia for a holiday we’re taking later this year. I’ve booked us an AirBnb Plus Private Trulli and a farmhouse (complete with pool, jacuzzi and steamroom!) in May so watch this space to see if they are as amazing as I think they’ll be.
New to AirBnb? Get £34 off your first stay if you sign up via this link
AirBnb tips for families
While you can search for child-friendly properties I often search without this filter on as it excludes properties that may be suitable if you have just 1 little one and your own travel cot. The Melbourne property mentioned above was listed as not suitable for kids but we got in touch with the owner to ask for more info. When we explained that we’d be bringing our own cot, high chair, toys etc and didn’t need anything provided she was more than happy to let us stay there.
Of course, if you’d rather travel lighter, then searching for family-friendly places will mean a lot of this is waiting for you. The Airbnb Plus farmhouse we’ve booked in Puglia lists cot, high chair, changing table and children’s tableware among its many amenities.
We discovered Sonder when looking for somewhere to stay in New York for 7 weeks last Spring. Bridging the gap between a hotel and an AirBnb, Sonder’s feel like real homes, just without having to deal with owners or their belongings!
Our Sonder in Chelsea was very tastefully decorated and had a super cosy couch to snuggle up on while we got over jet-lag/retaught Miles the difference between night and day. There was a laundry room in the basement and the most incredible rooftop terrace with views of the Empire State Building.
While not specifically geared at families (at least our NYC apartment wasn’t) what is great is having the space, including a full-size kitchen and bathroom, to bring all your baby/child paraphernalia with you. We also had a walk-in closet so didn’t have to trip over suitcases for days on end!
I had a lot of contact with the concierge team prior to booking to make sure we would have room to swing a baby and they had a cot set up in the bedroom for our arrival. There was also a box of goodies from local foodie heaven Eataly, so we were all set for dinner on the first evening.
You can narrow down your search using filters for amenities such as in-suite laundry (apparently a rarity in NYC!) and outdoor space or parking.
Sonder is currently available in cities across the US, as well as London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Dubai.
While we have found it easier to stay in an apartment since travelling with a baby, sometimes I’m willing to compromise space for room service and house-keeping :p
It can take more effort to find the sort of hotel room that works for more than a couple of nights with little ones, but we did come across some stunners last year.
In Mykonos we made a hotel room work by choosing one on the ground floor with an outdoor terrace we could escape to while Miles was napping. Although not specifically listed on the website, the hotel were able to provide a cot and kettle to warm bottles (upon request via email) and from other reviews I could tell they were very welcoming to families in the restaurant and pool areas.
You can also find holiday homes and apartments on booking.com. The 3-storey, 3-bedroom beauty we stayed in Devon towards the start of the year was a booking.com find that turned out to be even better than we imagined. (Think: drawers full of kid’s cutlery and a washing machine with laundry powder.)
On booking through third parties
I know some people can be reluctant to book through a third-party website, but I have genuinely booked truckloads of properties on booking.com without any issues. I cannot vouch for whether they are the cheapest option, but they are the most convenient, by far, for me. I use the app so all my details are saved and I can book a place in 1 click. The app also allows you to contact the properties directly if you have any questions or issues.
It was through this service that I was able to get refunds on 2 non-cancellable bookings last year when plans went awry. (The first was a Skiathos holiday I had to cancel as our airline went bust and the second was an airport hotel in Singapore I could no longer check into when Miles was deemed unfit to fly.) In both cases I communicated with the properties via the app’s messaging service and they were very kind to offer refunds in the circumstances.
Canopy & Stars
For 2020 we plan to spend some of our holidays exploring more of the UK. (For a variety of reasons, including flying less and seeing what we’ve ignored on our doorsteps for all these years.)
(Note: I’m not working with this company but I’d like to be. Call me :p)
Although I’m yet to decide which one of these we’ll go to first (thoughts everyone?) I really enjoy how easy it is to search for child and baby friendly, quirky properties and get lots on information on things to see, do and eat nearby. Expect a review on some (or all!) of these options later this year!
Kid & Coe
This final website is one that lists properties I aspire to stay in one day! Kid & Coe have curated a collection of stunning, high-end family-friendly holiday homes in 50 locations across the world. They are a mixture of family homes and agency rentals and all of them are #interiorsgoals. (Seriously if you need inspiration for decorating a nursery or playroom just browse some of these homes.)
The prices reflect the quality of the properties so are on the higher end of the scale, but they are no more expensive than some luxury hotels and, personally, I think you are getting much more for your money. As well as being equipped with baby essentials such as stair gates, property perks include a baby equipment hire service and bespoke child-friendly itineraries.
If we have another opportunity to base ourselves overseas for a couple of weeks I will definitely come to Kid & Coe first. It would be lovely not to have cart any toys and books away!
Are there any websites you rate for stylish family-friendly holiday homes? Let me know in the comments.