Picking the right hotel can make or break the vacation when you’re traveling with kids. This can be especially challenging in Europe, where rooms are often tiny — some with just two twin beds — and prices, especially during the summer months, fly sky high.
What you need is space. Ideally, connecting rooms or a suite large enough to move around in during “down time” without bashing into a suitcase or waking a napping child. (Always look at size, which will be provided in square meters, and convert to feet so you understand what you are booking.) Location is important, but less so: If it has easy access to efficient public transportation, a hotel outside of the city center is fine. You also want a property that has high chairs, infant tubs, cribs and perks such as included breakfast.
We’ve done the scouting for you in eight popular European destinations. (Please note that rates have been converted into dollars, so they are approximate and fluctuate daily.) A tip: Always ask for promotions; even if your days do not coincide with an offering, hotels will often honor the discount.
A guest room at the Sloane Square Hotel in London, close to several kid-pleasing sites. (Veronika Kopecka/Sloane Square Hotel) London
Spacious rooms and access to the charming neighborhood of Chelsea make the historic Sloane Square Hotel a great base from which to explore nearby museums (Natural History and Victoria and Albert), Buckingham Palace and Chelsea Physic Garden, an ancient botanic garden with wonderful programming for children. Book the club family room ($455), which has a king-size bed and sofa bed plus an alcove with a twin bed. Or, interconnecting club king ($437) with a superior twin room ($393). Both include breakfast for children. Promotions run frequently online; rates often drop on Sundays.
Proximity to Kensington Gardens (Diana Memorial Playground, swan-filled Round Pond) and Hyde Park (horse riding, boating on the Serpentine lake and people-watching at Speakers’ Corner) are some good reasons to stay at Royal Garden Hotel. Well-configured rooms and family friendliness (included breakfast, a backpack full of goodies, micro-scooters for kids to use in the park) are others. The executive room ($436) has a king bed and alcove with a pullout sofa. The park suite ($812) has a separate lounge with pullout sofa bed. The hotel’s classic Queen Victoria afternoon tea is a memory-maker for the family.
In the same leafy neighborhood, Nadler Kensington offers modern rooms (superior fits three, $240; deluxe fits four, $277) equipped with kitchenettes. It has pricier properties in Soho and Covent Garden.
Bunk beds for children at the Hotel Regina Paris. (Hotel Regina Paris) Paris
For convenience and classic Parisian elegance, pick Hotel Regina Louvre, a grande dame built for the 1900 World’s Fair opposite the Louvre museum and adjacent to Jardin des Tuileries. Choose between a family room (essentially connecting rooms with a queen bed and two twins, $752) or a family suite ($992) which has a living area, a master bedroom and a room with bunk beds for children. A junior suite ($564) can work with one child. There is often a 10 percent discount for families.
It’s farther out, but spacious rooms and amenities such as no-additional-cost babysitting make Pullman Paris Bercy Hotel in the 12th arrondissement (close to Jardin des Plantes) in Bercy Village a prime pick. There are superior family rooms ($280, fits four) and a family suite that can comfortably fit up to six (starting at $471).
Spartan but spacious rooms. And breakfast is included! (Hotel Albergo Santo Chiara) Rome
If you seek lodging amid narrow, cobbled lanes in the center of the Eternal City’s historical area (walking distance to Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori), Hotel Albergo Santo Chiara on the Piazza della Minerva is the ticket. What the spartan but modern rooms lack in wow factor they make up for in space (plus an included breakfast buffet) and access to Rome’s coolest quadrant. Quadruple rooms ($372) have a master sleeping area and separate room with a pair of twin beds. Suites ($541), have a master bedroom and living room that doubles as second bedroom plus private terrace.
Alternatively, you can choose an urban hideaway bordering Villa Borghese Gardens with that perk of perks: an outdoor swimming pool where families can unwind after sightseeing. The Gardens are Rome’s largest green space, home to playgrounds, museums, puppet shows and the Bioparco di Roma zoo. A family room (two connecting superior rooms) at Aldrovandi Villa Borghese starts at $880, breakfast included.
A superior room at the Mandarin Oriental, which is walking distance to many famous sites in Prague. (Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group) Prague
With its spires and cobblestoned streets, Prague is a dream for kids who love fairy tales. In medieval Mala Strana, the Mandarin Oriental Prague, (connecting superior rooms $295 per room, minimum three-night stay) is housed in a former 14th century monastery and is walking distance to Prague Castle, Petrin Hill, Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock in Old Town Square. ADVERTISING
Aria Hotel pays homage to the city’s musical heritage. Hotel floors are named by musical genre, and suites are dedicated to icons such as Dvorak, Beethoven and Billie Holiday. Another draw: a private entrance to Vrtba Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage site. A junior suite (one room) starts at $434, the American Rock one-bedroom suite with sleeper sofa in the separate living area costs $558, and the two-bedroom Beethoven suite runs $902.
Another option? Apartment style lodging with maid service and property managers who are available 24/7. Residence Karolina offers one-bedroom ($135) and two-bedroom ($248) apartments in Old Town, while sister property Residence Masna (a few minutes outside of Old Town) offers one-bedrooms ($124).
A suite living area at Hyatt’s Andaz Vienna, close to the zoo. (Hyatt) Vienna
There is nothing quite like a stay in a grand landmark hotel, and Vienna’s Hotel Sacher Wein (opened in 1876 and the birthplace of Austria’s prized pastry the Sacher torte) across the square from the Vienna State Opera and close to the Albertina museum and Hofburg palace delivers the perfect blend of old world Austrian charm (soaring ceilings, oversized rooms, splendid furnishings) and 21st-century comforts. Interconnecting rooms ($507 per room) are best for a family of four. Ask about the “Stay 4, Pay 3” promotion.
The Andaz Vienna, close to attractions such as the Wiener Prater and Schönbrunn Zoo, is more contemporary. The loft-style executive suite sleeps four ($434), Less pricey is the Aparthotel Adagio Vienna City, apartment-style lodging next to Julius-Raab-Platz near the Danube, a short distance from the city center. For a family of four, the one-bedroom apartments ($304 ) have a queen bed with a sofa bed in the living room (cots are available as well as an infant bath and high chair) and fully equipped kitchen.
The play garden at the Pulitzer Amsterdam hotel. (Pulitzer Amsterdam) Amsterdam
To truly experience the vibrancy of Amsterdam, you want to stay in the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes), a neighborhood defined by romantic canals, tiny shops and locals whizzing past on bicycles. Pulitzer Amsterdam is made up of interconnecting 17th-century canal houses but inside, the look is whimsical and modern. Book a family room (with a king and two twin beds, starting from $530) or connecting rooms (suite with living room connected to classic room, $924). Kids will love the personalized pillowcases, which are topped with a bedtime story every night, swings in the interior garden and the chance to take a ride on the hotel’s vintage teak canalboat.
More cookie-cutter but less expensive, the centrally located Marriott Amsterdam Hotel has family rooms (starting at $350) that sleep four. Hotel Estherea, another revamped 17th-century canal house, is a family-run boutique hotel with family room and suites (from $406, sleeps four).
A family room in Italy at Hotel Villa Flori, which offers spacious rooms with Lake Como vistas. (Lario Hotels) Lake Como
This sun-drenched pocket of northern Italy, with its picturesque towns, ochre-hued villas and terraced gardens, has served as vacation hot spot since ancient times. The newest property to hit the shores is the Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como. The deft revamp of this grand 19th-century villa within a botanic garden is certainly a splurge (duplex suites at $1,325 or two unconnected, same-floor superior rooms from $614 each). You’d be investing in a bucket-list vacation: a stay in a historic property with chic, modern rooms and majestic views (think lakefront aperitivo under the ancient plane trees), a 16-meter floating pool, water sports (stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, water-skiing, wakeboarding) and a private boat that ferries guests around the lake.
Another revamped 19th-century villa, Hotel Villa Flori, offers spacious rooms with sweeping lake vistas, with breakfast included and impressive Old World details such as preserved stucco work, frescoes and parquet floors. The best option is connecting rooms, a classic, ($303) with superior ($348) or deluxe ($393) to junior suite ($636).
Built in 2017, Hilton Lake Como has 170 rooms (family room, $451 suites, $564) and a lovely rooftop infinity pool. The property is across the street from the lake and a 15-minute walk to bustling Como Town.
The family pool at the Hotel Arts Barcelona — which has a view of the ocean. (Hotel Arts Barcelona) Barcelona
An ideal perch to explore Las Ramblas, the fantastic Gaudi buildings, the Picasso museum and the city’s excellent aquarium is Hotel Arts Barcelona, a soaring edifice of exposed glass and steel right on the beach with a swimming pool. In keeping with the edgy design aesthetic, rooms are airy and contemporary, with artwork by Catalan and Spanish artists. The family package offers an executive suite with two rollaway beds and breakfast for $705. A family of three can book a deluxe room ($445) and add a rollaway bed.
Four Points by Sheraton Diagonal is in the burgeoning 22@ district not far from museums, beaches and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Connecting classic rooms start at $188.