Our 16-day trip through Europe gave us some chances to sample a few different hotels. That’s always kind of fun – you can learn a few interesting things about a country by its hotels. Here’s where we stayed during our trip, and I’ve added some notes on kid-friendly amenities and considerations.
Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt City Hauptbahnhof
We spent a night here after arriving in Frankfurt. It was a pretty compact room, but the Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt City – Hauptbahnhof looked like it had just been remodeled. It was clean and stylish. I also noticed something that would be a theme in European hotels – it had soap dispensers attached to the walls in squeeze bottles. I always like seeing environmental features like this in a hotel. Imagine all the waste from throwing away individual packages of soap and shampoo, not to mention the unused portions.
We were also pretty excited that breakfast was included … not just because “free food,” but because Germany seems to follow the mold of Scandinavian breakfasts. They power up with meat, cheese, muesli and fresh fruit. Yes!
The Holiday Inn Express also seemed to work well for the little people. They had high chairs in the dining area, and they provided a crib.
This is a reasonably priced but very modern hotel. The word from the locals is that the owner of Smartino Hotel also makes a good chunk of change from pet crematoriums, of all things!
The rooms here are pretty small, so you won’t have much room if you’re traveling with a baby … the already-small footprint gets shrunken down even further by a crib and stroller. I think the Smartino could also win some points from parents by having a high chair in the dining area (great breakfast is also included with the rooms here, by the way).
Smartino is walking distance from a nice little chunk of Schwäbisch Hall, but removed from the more interesting parts, too. It’s best to stay here only if you have a rental car. I’d definitely stay here again.
The Strand Palace Hotel
If you want to be in the middle of it all in London, this is a really good choice. You’re not far from the London Eye and the Covent Garden area. Overall, though, I’m not a big fan of the Strand Palace Hotel.
The rooms are absolutely fine. You can get a crib for the little people, but again the rooms are small enough that it (along with the stroller) will make you feel cramped. The elevators here are incredibly slow and small, so that makes traveling with the little person in a stroller a lot more difficult. You’ll also have to go in through the side door; I notice that, in general, Europe is really deficient in ramps and elevators/lifts. I can only imagine what a burden it is to travel here for anyone who uses a wheelchair.
Two other points about the Strand Palace Hotel: Some jackass guest decided to smoke, I guess. Well, just about all their exhaust seemed to find its way into our room. Gross. Also, the nearest Tube stop didn’t have a lift; fortunately, a friendly Londonder offered to grab the front of our stroller to help us navigate the steps. If you have a stroller, try to find a hotel near a more modern Tube stop that’s likely to have an elevator.
If you have an eye for design, the Hôtel BELVUE in Brussels will make your list of coolest hotels ever. Rather than the typical rectangle, our rooms were a combination of triangles. Yes, you read that right: rooms. We had a living room with a foldout bed, a bedroom and a luxuriously large bathroom. The floors were stylish brushed concrete, and all the colors were very stylish. One thing I’d recommend – some nice art on the walls to liven things up and make them look less like the walls of a college dorm on move-in day. I’d also consider some area rugs to warm the floors up a bit, literally and visually.
Still, the Hotel Belvue was pretty awesome. It had a decent location not far from the action and from the trolley. The little person enjoyed the spacious room because she had lots of freedom to practice crawling. Our fifth floor also had a huge area where she could room on a nice carpeted surface, too.
There are a few other things adding to the Belvue’s cool factor: It’s designed to be energy efficent, and is also used to train people for hospitality careers. I could go on about this, but the Hotel Belvue website says it best. I highly recommend staying here. It looks like parts are still under construction, so it may be even better by the time you visit.