Dec 31 2010
Our family loves to travel, and while we sometimes go on camping adventures during the summer months, the majority of our overnight stays are in hotels. For us, it’s often a challenge to find a hotel room that will sleep the six of us, since many rooms have occupancy limits of four or less. Still, with a little research, I’ve always been able to find a place for us to stay that will accommodate us with two beds and a sofabed, or even better, three beds.
My secret weapon, and always my first stop when looking for a hotel room for our family, is Six Suitcase Travel. It lists hotels with rooms that will fit six, seven, or even eight people, and includes notations about breakfast, pools, and other family-friendly considerations. Organized by state and city, it’s easy to see where we’ll be able to find a place to rest our heads along our route.
I know that another option for large families is to book two rooms, but in my experience, I’ve never found this to be less expensive than paying for a suite-type room that will accommodate all of us, and because few hotels have adjoining rooms any more, it would mean splitting up our family in many cases. In most cases, our hotel stays range from $75-$125/night, and our favorites include free breakfast and Internet service.
Since hotel reviews aren’t my forte, I rarely write posts about individual hotels. But because we’ve had pleasant stays at a variety of hotels, today’s article will give an overview of chains and individual hotels where we’ve had success, as well as details about locations we’ve stayed. I hope it’s helpful to large families looking for a place to stay, or for smaller families who enjoy a bit more space than a standard hotel room with two beds, a desk, and a chair.
Hotels for Large Families
Far and away our favorite place to stay. Their one-bedroom suites include two double or queen beds, and a separate living room holds a sofabed and chair. In addition, a kitchen with a large refrigerator, cooktop, and microwave also includes dishes, pots, and pans, so we can make some meals in our room. Not that we need to cook very often, because Homewood Suites offers a superb hot breaHkfast each morning and an evening meal Monday through Thursday. Rates are frequently very affordable, with discounts given for long stays or special promotions. Near St. Louis, we had a special AAA holiday rate of just $76/night. TV’s in many locations are new so that we can plug in our iPod to the A/V jacks and watch downloaded movies.
We’ve stayed at several Homewood Suites in the past, and found the service and quality to be consistent throughout the brand.
Homewood Suites Galleria, St. Louis, MO
Although located next to a busy Interstate, our tenth-floor room overlooking the highway was very quiet. The hotel is just across the street from the Galleria mall and there are several restaurants within walking distance. This hotel is quite new, and the decor is modern yet comfortable. This particular Homewood Suites hotel has an indoor pool, which is somewhat unique among Homewood Suites, whose pools are usually outdoors.
Homewood Suites, Chesterfield, MO
Found in the western suburbs of St. Louis, the Chesterfield Homewood Suites is near a grocery store and restaurants, with a major shopping area just down the road. Staff were friendly and helpful, as we’ve found at all the Homewood Suites locations we’ve stayed at.
Homewood Suites, Sioux Falls, SD
This was the first Homewood Suites we ever stayed at. My in-laws were also staying in Sioux Falls for the weekend, at a conference-center hotel. My mother-in-law couldn’t believe that for almost the identical price, they had a standard room with a bed and chair, and no breakfast included. On the other hand, we had a two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite with kitchen, full breakfast, and evening meal included. We definitely had the better deal.
Just a few minutes from Valley Forge, this Homewood Suites hotel was our home for nearly a week when we were in the Philadelphia area. With restaurants nearby and a Walmart across the road, it was a good location with easy Interstate access. The hotel had enough closets and dressers for us to really unpack and make ourselves at home.
Homewood Suites, Baton Rouge, LA
When traveling on Christmas Day, finding a meal can be a challenge. We were happy to arrive at the Baton Rouge Homewood Suites in time to make our own supper with food we had brought along. Staff were friendly and the breakfast good, as always. The hotel was easy to access from the Interstate.
Hyatt Summerfield Suites
While Homewood Suites is part of the Hilton family, Hyatt has its own similar chain of hotels called Hyatt Summerfield Suites. There aren’t a lot of them yet, but they are reasonably priced and offer many conveniences.
Hyatt Summerfield Suites Arboretum, Austin, TX
For around $75/night, we had a room with two beds, a sofabed, and small kitchen. The best part of this hotel was the walk-in closet. It was big enough that the kids could go in, turn on the light, and play games quietly in the morning without disturbing us. Full breakfast and an evening meal were also provided. This hotel is located near the Arboretum mall with easy highway access.
Choice Hotels brands include Comfort, Quality, Sleep, and more. While we’ve found inconsistencies in some of the locations, overall they’re a reasonably-priced choice, and many of their properties have rooms that will fit six or seven people. If I didn’t have Six Suitcase Travel to help me find a room, this would be the first place I’d look when making reservations because they have rooms for large families in more locations that most other hotel chains. The Comfort Suites brand is entirely smoke-free. Free breakfast and Internet service are part of all of the Comfort and Quality sites we’ve stayed at, and many have indoor pools.
Comfort Suites, Coralville, IA
Just across the street from Coral Ridge Mall, this Comfort Suites has become a stopping point for us on more than one occasion when traveling through Iowa City. The next-door IHOP is reported to be the only place in town that’s open on Christmas Day, making it a good location for our holiday travels this year. The kids’ favorite part of this hotel was the pool area, which includes a 100-foot waterslide. It provided plenty of fun for our family while at the hotel. Comfort Inns and Suites almost always offer a waffle maker and biscuits and gravy in addition to continental breakfast choices, so we get some good food in our tummies before hitting the road the next morning.
Comfort Inn Sea World, San Antonio, TX
The name is somewhat deceiving, as it’s a 10-15 minute drive from Sea World, but the location is handy nonetheless. Restaurants and a shopping area are just down the street, and the hes easy highway access. One of the newer Comfort Inns, this one features updated decor, including a high marble vanity that was too tall for our kids when brushing their teeth. Our room, however, was large, with the living room separated from the bedroom by French doors, and we had plenty of room for our family. Bedding for the sofabed had to be requested from the front desk, so we now know to check for that before we’re all in our pajamas. Waffles in the shape of Texas were a hit with the kids.
Comfort Suites, downtown Minneapolis, MN
I believe this was formerly an Embassy Suites hotel, and when the switch was made, the good breakfast with made-to-order eggs and other hot items remained. Cookies were also available upon checkin, and snacks were complimentary in the evening. Our room included two beds, a separate living area that included a bar and table, and plenty of closet space. The hotel is located near the Metrodome but is connected to the skyway system, so a winter walk to Target Center took a bit of time but required no coats.
Comfort Suites, Ennis, TX
Found just off I-35 south of Dallas, our room at the Comfort Suites Ennis was one of the largest half-wall “suites” we’ve been in. Sometimes the beds are right against the walls, but this one had plenty of space to walk on both sides. Staff were friendly and we had a pleasant stay.
Comfort Suites, Galveston, TX
I made the mistake of paying a few dollars more for an ocean view at this hotel. While it’s true that we could see the Gulf of Mexico from the balcony, we first had to look over an open lot, a bunch of power lines, and a busy street. The view wasn’t worth the extra money spent. This is also another property where we had to obtain bedding for the sofabed from the front desk, rather than having it already on the bed or in the closet for easy access. The half-wall suite we stayed in was tight quarters, with the beds right up to the walls. Still, staff were friendly and the standard Comfort Suites breakfast ample for our stay in Galveston.
Comfort Suites, Monroeville, PA
This Comfort Suites in the eastern Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville features “boutique-style” decor and an updated breakfast area. While a TV in the bathroom was a perk (though not entirely necessary), the sofabed was very small. Fortunately our kids were still small as well, because when I inquired about a rollaway, I was told the hotel didn’t have any available. I’d rate this a fine hotel for a family of five, but for six it’s not a good choice unless there are young children who can fit on that small bed.
An older hotel built in the “motor lodge” style, this is a sprawling hotel where you park right in front of your room door. The indoor pool, rooms, breakfast area, and office are all in different buildings on the property. Still, our room was clean and spacious, a large room that contained three double beds. I wish more hotels would have this option available. Breakfast is in the dining room of a house on the property, and the breakfast staff were very friendly. We found the price to be reasonable and the location near Gettysburg attractions to be convenient. We’d stay here again when in Gettysburg.
Quality Inn, Rhinelander, WI
When we stayed here, it was a Holiday Inn but has apparently changed brands since then. The suite we stayed in was originally two adjoining rooms, so we had two beds, a sofabed, two bathrooms, and a whirlpool tub–plenty of room to spread out for our family.
Hyatt Place is another option we’ve found that works well for our family. We can get a room with two beds and a pull-out sofa, and the decor is modern and includes flat-screen TV’s with several inputs so we can watch a movie from an iPod or computer while relaxing in the room. Hyatt Place offers a hybrid breakfast–basics are free but hot items, cinnamon rolls, etc. must be paid for. There is also 24-hour food service available near the front desk, making it another option for holiday travel or late arrivals. We’ve found some very reasonable rates at Hyatt Place.
Hyatt Place, Bloomington, MN
Located near Mall of America, this was our first Hyatt Place stay. The kids thought the TV’s and L-shaped sofa were very nice.
Hyatt Place, Overland Park, KS
Near an office park and shopping area, we had a pleasant stay at this Hyatt Place when we visited Kansas City.
Embassy Suites feature suites with two beds and a separate living room with a sofabed, table, and bar area. The made-to-order breakfast items are a favorite of my husband’s.
Embassy Suites, Bloomington, MN
After finding the correct hotel (there are two Embassy Suites in Bloomington, one on American Blvd W and one on American Blvd E) we enjoyed our stay. The kids liked wandering around the courtyard area and the rides in the glass elevator. Breakfast options were plentiful and tasty.
While not a lot of Holiday Inns have rooms for six, we’ve found a few that do. They tend to be a bit higher in price than Comfort Suites but offer similar amenities.
Holiday Inn Express, Wisconsin Dells, WI
Found hear the outlet mall just off the Interstate, we found respite here in a snowstorm. Our room was spacious with two beds and a sofabed, and there was an indoor pool are that looked fun even though we didn’t have time to use it. Breakfast was good and staff were friendly.
Holiday Inn Express, Cape Girardeau, MO
Another spacious room just off the highway in Cape Girardeau, this is where Santa found us on Christmas Eve. As a Christmas treat, milk and cookies were waiting in our room when we arrived back in the room after church Christmas Eve.
Other hotels where we’ve found rooms for the six of us…
Radisson, Bloomington, MN
With the Waterpark of America located on property, this is a popular family destination. Our room had two full beds and two bunks for the kids. No breakfast is included, but there is a restaurant on-site. This one’s a splurge, especially if using the waterpark. Hotel guests get a discount on waterpark wristbands. Another feature of this hotel is a park-and-fly package, which features underground heated parking and a shuttle to the airport.
CanadInns Polo Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba
We enjoyed our stay at the family-friendly CanadInns Polo Park. While breakfast isn’t included, the hotel’s restaurant has specials for kids. Our themed kids room featured bunk beds and a space theme, and the kids liked the scavenger hunt around the hotel and the indoor waterpark.
Our King Neptune suite was spacious and the waterpark is ideal for younger kids–older, more adventurous types will enjoy some of the larger Dells waterparks more than the Atlantis. The hotel is sprawling, so we had to carry our luggage a long way, and there is no breakfast on site. We were glad to have a refrigerator and microwave so we could bring our own provisions , and our young kids enjoyed the waterpark.
The Edge, Duluth, MN
We had a large, family-friendly room at this Duluth hotel. There’s an old section and a new section at this hotel, and reviews seem to vary according to which section you stay in. Hint: ask for a room overlooking the waterpark and you’ll be in the new section with a spacious room. There’s also outdoor mini-golf (seasonal) and an arcade on site, as well as free breakfast in the mornings. We really like this waterpark, where passes are included in the room rates, making it a bargain for families looking for a waterpark getaway.
Country Inn & Suites, Cedar Falls, IA
At this Country Inn & Suites, we had a huge hotel room with plenty of room to spread out (and even rearrange the furniture a bit. Although it’s a bit off the major highways, we’d definitely stay here again if in Cedar Falls.
Another spacious suite, with cookies available each evening and a good breakfast in the morning. There’s a waterslide in the pool area that was a hit with our kids. Located on Madison’s southwest side, near Verona, so it was easy to get to attractions like House on the Rock and Cave of the Mounds.
King’s Pointe Resort, Storm Lake, IA
This is another waterpark resort that features both indoor and outdoor waterparks on the shores of Storm Lake. We especially enjoyed the outdoor waterpark with its variety of pools and slides that were good for all ages. Our room was nicely decorated although somewhat oddly set up. There’s no free breakfast but there is a restaurant on site. Our kids keep asking to return to King’s Pointe.
Finding a room for a large family isn’t impossible, but it may take a bit more work. I encourage large families to start with Six Suitcase Travel when looking for a hotel room, and if you find one that isn’t listed on the Six Suitcase site, let them know so they can add it. You can also add hotel reviews for large families on Six Suitcase Travel, or reviews of any hotels or attractions on Trekaroo, another site I use when looking for family-friendly lodging and attractions.
Do you have any favorite hotels for your family, no matter how big? What do you look for in a family-friendly hotel? Your comments are appreciated.