Hotel or Villa? What sort of holiday did you have before you had kids? I bet it was pretty different to the sort of holiday you have now. It doesn’t matter if it was an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or some sort of intrepid trekking in the Nepalese mountains, I can guarantee that your travel has changed since you started inviting your little munchkins to come along for the ride!
Now we weren’t the Nepalese trekking sort (although, now I think about it, that would have been kind of awesome). We weren’t the all-inclusive sort either. There were definitely backpacks, but we were kind of middle of the road, quite slow travellers. We liked to go to a few places but stay in each place for a while. To soak it all in. We rarely booked anywhere – somehow we showed up in a place and it all worked out. We wouldn’t spend much on accommodation – a room was a place to sleep – waking hours were for exploring! The most forward planning we would do would be to contact the local dive shop to make sure they would have space for us on their dives.
Since having kids we find ourselves booking more things in advance. And since they started school we find ourselves trying to fit a bit more in. On the other hand, we’re also trying not to cram too much in since that almost always backfires on us when we do. We do spend more on accommodation – we spend more time there than we did!
For a long time we didn’t find hotels fit our routines very well. We would quite often travel with friends or family and rental properties seemed to suit us much better. As the years have gone by hotels have become easier to stay in (appealing even!) partly because the kids are a bit older but also because we’ve got much better at choosing them.
I’ve written about things to think about when booking villas or hotels but one of my most frequent questions from my readers is which of those options is better?
The cop out answer is that it depends on a lot of different factors such as the ages and personalities of your kids, any other travel companions, the destination and much much more. To help you out here are a few things that I like about each option. Depending on your situation, you may put a higher or lower value to each factor.
I’m a massive fan of the villa holiday. If you’re travelling with other people it’s probably your best bet in my opinion. For starters it works out much cheaper than a hotel because you often don’t have the same facilities on site as a hotel. That being said, your money can go pretty far if there are a few of you.
We love the flexibility to eat what and where we want to – the kids can be quite picky and, while they’re definitely getting better, it’s great to have the option to make them something we know they’ll eat. , for bedtimes to be dictated by our routines and for
The other big thing for us is the impact that staying in a villa has on our schedules and routines. Not only can you eat what and where you want but, critically, you can eat when you want! We often find restaurants don’t open until 6.30pm or even 7 which means the kids aren’t in bed until 8 or later which is late for them. And no, they don’t wake up later if I put them to bed later. It’s much easier to have a chilled day together in a villa than a hotel too.
Villas can be much more sociable – if the kids are in bed then you can all hang out in the main living areas or outside without worrying about them. Even on our own we find it’s great to have somewhere to go in the evenings rather than hiding out in the bathroom or whispering in the dark!
The flip side is that hotels can provide a more relaxing holiday in different ways. They’ll often have much more extensive facilities like multiple swimming pools, other sports options, a spa, kids club and a range of places to eat in. Crucially for me on the eating side is that we don’t have to cook or clean up!
I know some people are a bit scathing about families who put their kids in kids club but I would always recommend you look for a hotel with one, even if you’re not planning to use it for childcare. Hotels with kids clubs tend to be more family friendly – you may find that they have more dining options for kids such as all day dining restaurants and kids menus. A family friendly hotel will attract… you guessed it, families! My kids love to hang out with other kids so that’s a bonus for us too. We also like going to kids club to hang out in the middle of the day or in bad weather as they often have things like different toys, colouring or kids activities which means we don’t have to bring it all with us. If we are going somewhere quite remote, we find hotels with lots of facilities are a winner! In the middle of a busy city they’re probably less important.
Finally, hotels are less risky (generally) than villas. I’ve heard recently about Airbnb’s being cancelled close to the dates of travel or about them not being as seen. Not that hotels are immune to these problems but it is less likely.
I hope these things have been helpful for you. The best advice I can offer is to figure out what is important to you. Knowing what will work best for you and your family / travel companions, what you want out of a holiday and what you will be most comfortable with is the best chance of success!
What do you prefer with your children? A villa or a hotel?
This is a guest post from Emma at Wanderlust and Wet Wipes
Emma’s a pushing 40, travel-mad mum to 2 young kids (aged 6 and 4) and a crazy dog. Originally from the UK she’s lived in 10 cities across 5 continents all over the world. She currently lives in Doha, Qatar. Emma started blogging about her family travels in 2017 when she had an epiphany about how to have successful adventurous family holidays.
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