Hotel Room, Condo, Suite: Choosing Your Accommodations When Traveling

Lisa Fritscher February 7, 2015 No Comments

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A condo is a great way for your family to spread out.

When planning any trip, one of the biggest considerations is where to stay. In the past few years, hotel rates have skyrocketed in many areas and condos have become a hot new trend. Yet no particular type of accommodation is right for all families. When deciding where to stay, consider the location, your budget, your family size, and even how much time you will spend in the room.

Hotels
Hotels and motels are the most familiar accommodations to most Americans. A basic room with two double beds is sufficient for active small families who plan to spend most of their time out sightseeing. Many hotels will allow you to bring in an air mattress or even provide a rollaway bed for an extra fee, but be sure to ask in advance. Due to fire codes and other safety considerations, there is usually a limit on the number of people per room.

Hotels are typically located in city centers and other prime areas.
credit: DanyJack Mercier

Hotels are typically located in city centers and other prime areas, while motels are more suburban or rural. In addition, hotels generally have more amenities such as on-site restaurants and fitness centers. Deluxe hotels might offer everything from room service to poolside massages. Of course, the better the location and the more amenities a hotel provides, the higher the nightly rate usually is.

If you have a larger family or want more room to spread out, hotels generally offer both connecting rooms, which share an interior door, and suites. Some suites offer two bedrooms, a separate living room, and a fully equipped kitchen.

Hostels
Hostels have long been popular in Europe, but have experienced a recent explosion in growth in the United States. A hostel is sort of a cross between a guesthouse and a college dorm. At a hostel, you will pay by the bed—often in the $25 range, with prices climbing to $50 or more in major urban areas. The accommodations are typically older and often a bit run down, but generally clean and cheerful.

Hostel beds are typically bunks in your choice of a single or mixed-gender dorm room.
credit: hostelmanagement.com / CC BY-SA 3.0

Beds are typically bunks in your choice of a single or mixed-gender dorm room, although most hostels offer private rooms as well. A private room is typically priced by the number of available sleeping surfaces in the room, even if you do not use all of the them. For example, a private room with a double bed typically costs twice the bunk price, while one with two sets of bunk beds costs four times as much as a bunk.

Hostels generally offer large facilities for all travelers to share, such as a big living room and an oversized kitchen. You must buy your own food, which you can store in a labeled bag in the refrigerator or pantry, but all cooking implements and dishes are provided. Many local businesses provide steep discounts to hostel guests, and some hostels organize tours and other events.

Bed and Breakfasts
Bed and breakfast accommodations are a great choice for families looking for something more upscale than a hostel but with the same welcoming feel. As the name indicates, your nightly rate typically includes both your lodging and a deluxe breakfast every morning. Breakfast is generally served at a specific time or within a narrow time slot, and everyone staying in the bed and breakfast dines together. The innkeepers are generally the owners, and most take great pride in doing everything they can to give their guests a personalized and enjoyable stay.

Note that most bed and breakfasts have a “lockout,” or a period of time during the day when you are expected to be out and about. This gives the owners the chance to clean, restock, and spend a bit of family time before their guests return. Some properties advertise lockout hours, while others simply expect you to follow this unwritten rule. If you will need to spend a day in, let the innkeepers know as soon as possible so they can plan around you. Also note that some upscale bed and breakfasts are not kid-friendly. Call ahead if you are unsure.

Condos
Condos are an excellent choice for bigger families and small groups. The time share industry has changed, and most now operate on points rather than weeks. Time share owners receive a pool of points each year that they can use at any participating property across the country or even around the world. When a particular resort happens to have open condos that have not been booked on points, it becomes available for cash rentals. Nightly rates vary dramatically depending on the time share company, occupancy level, time of year and many other factors, so it is worth your time to call around for the best deal.

Condos are typically available in a range of sizes from studios to two or even three-bedroom units. Thanks to my best friend, Dad and I have had the opportunity to stay in numerous two-bedrooms. Invariably, we have found them to be clean and comfortable with well-equipped full kitchens, large dining nooks and big living rooms. Our favorite feature is always the balcony with plenty of patio furniture. The resorts are normally deluxe complexes with multiple pools and a full schedule of activities.

Vacation rentals are great for large groups or extended stays.
credit: Rental Home BW / CC BY-SA 3.0

Vacation Rentals
Another option, particularly for large groups and extended stays, is a vacation rental. These run the gamut from city apartments to five-bedroom homes to rustic mountain cabins. These properties literally provide all the comforts and privacy of home. Some are rented by private owners, while others are managed through professional property management companies.

Because these are private homes, each property and each rental contract is different from the next. It is very important to do your due diligence including reading online reviews, talking with previous renters, and carefully reviewing anything you are asked to sign. Also find out if there is an escape clause if the place is not to your liking when you arrive. For example, my ex-husband and I rented a private condo on the beach for our honeymoon, that was billed as very secluded. Imagine our surprise when we arrived to discover that we shared the pool and tiny courtyard with a big houseful of kids! And the pool shower was mounted on our bedroom wall! Thankfully, we had a good escape clause and were able to retreat to a hotel suite down the road.

There is no right vacation option for everyone. Yet today’s plethora of choices ensures that you and your family will not be stuck in a tiny motel room with no space to move around. Even in remote destinations, you typically have at least a few options at different price points.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

Tags: , Reviews, Sharing Experiences, Tips and Hints, Travel Excursions

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