What do you consider the best family hotel chains? When it comes to hitting the road with my two kids, whether for a relaxing vacation or for the thrilling hustle of sports events, the quest for the perfect stay consumes quite a bit of my trip-planning time, so I’ve become quite the expert.
It’s not just about finding a roof over our heads but about discovering that sweet spot where comfort meets value—where every dollar spent feels justified with memories created and comforts afforded. Through our years of adventures and the numerous check-ins and check-outs, I’ve become quite the expert on what makes a hotel truly ‘family-friendly,’ (for families with babies up to my current teens), and even more so, what constitutes a great deal.
So what are the best family hotel chains that cater to various budgets without skimping on the amenities? I’ll share what I’ve discovered from countless stays, the little details that matter, and the bigger picture of what makes each recommended chain stand out. Whether your budget is lavish, or moderate, or you’re looking to stretch those dollars to the max, rest assured there’s a cozy choice in at least one of these chains for your family.
Factors to consider when choosing a hotel chain
Selecting a family-friendly hotel is akin to picking the right backdrop for your family’s cherished memories, and it all begins with location. A hotel that positions itself within a stone’s throw of major attractions or right next to the sports complex means less travel time and more playtime. A central location isn’t just about convenience; it’s about maximizing every minute of your trip, whether it’s for the thrill of a theme park or the cheers of a soccer field.
Amenities in a hotel are the building blocks of comfort and convenience during your stay. For families, this goes beyond the basics; it’s about having a kid-friendly pool, on-site restaurants with menus catering to young palates, and perhaps an activity hub where children can engage and parents can get a well-deserved breather. It’s these thoughtful inclusions that elevate a hotel from a mere stay to an experience, ensuring each family member’s needs are not just met but anticipated.
Cost is the compass by which many family travel decisions are guided. It’s about stretching your funds without compromising on the experience. This doesn’t mean always going for the budget option; instead, it’s about assessing what you get for what you pay—whether it’s the extra space of a suite, the convenience of a complimentary shuttle, or the money-saving benefits of a kitchenette.
Lastly, in the digital age, reviews and ratings are invaluable beacons that guide the decision-making process. They provide a glimpse into the experiences of other families, offering reassurance or caution. A hotel with consistently high ratings and positive reviews in areas like cleanliness, service, and family amenities often promises a stay that has been vetted by the most honest and demanding critics—fellow travelers.
Together, these factors form the cornerstone of every family’s hotel selection process, ensuring the chosen place stands up to the excitement and demands of travel, making every dollar, every minute, and every memory count.
Top high-end family hotel chains
High-end family hotels provide an oasis of luxury that doesn’t just accommodate but celebrates family travel. They deliver spacious, well-appointed rooms tailored for comfort and imbued with touches of luxury that appeal to both adults and children. Guests can expect an array of dining options, including fine restaurants with special kids’ menus, ensuring a culinary experience that delights every palate.
I am a huge fan of the Kimpton brand for older kids. Over the past few years, my kids and I have enjoyed stays at several Kimptons and we loved all the bougie extras!
Kimpton is an IHG brand of hotel, and thanks to my IHG card, I have plenty of points and status, which makes the stays even better. Kimpton hotels tend to be in vacation spots or larger cities, so although they aren’t everywhere, we search them out before every trip.
A few notable recent stays include the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort in Huntington Beach, CA – a terrific place to stay if you are stopping in California for a few days before or after a trip to Hawaii like we did. Other favorites include Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa – one of my favorite places (and they kept supplying us with delicious treats in the room to celebrate my daughter’s first year of college), and a recent trip we took to Miami where we stayed at the oceanfront Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel. This oceanfront hotel was close to South Beach and all the amazing restaurants and shops, we parked the car and walked everywhere!
Some of the fun extras with Kimpton are their frequent “secret passcode” (just check on Twitter/X and then mention it when you check in for extra goodies – like the free drinks we enjoyed in Miami), the delicious coffee in the morning, and wine hour in the evening, and the boutique feel of the hotels. Each one is a little bit different, but the service is always spectacular. Most Kimpton hotels are pet-friendly too, so you can bring along your furry friend.
Although limited in locations (Nashville, TN, Orlando, FL, National Harbor, MD, San Diego, CA, Aurora, CO and Dallas, TX), the Gaylord Hotels are a fantastic choice for a family-friendly getaway. Now a part of the Marriott chain, you can book them with Marriott points, although I often see pretty sweet cash prices – especially during the off-season.
This might not be your choice if you are following your kids’ travel sports teams around the US, but if you happen to have a tournament in Orlando (I’m raising my hand here), then the resort is well worth checking out.
Not only are they beautifully decorated, Gaylord hotels go all out around the holidays, so it might be a good consideration for a fun staycation if you live near one of them. They offer plenty of activities for the kids, there are typically lots of dining options on-site and they definitely cater to families.
On our last family trip to Nashville, TN, even though we didn’t stay at the Gaylord at Opryland, we did spend some time exploring it after our tour of the Grand Ole Opry. It was not only fun to check out, but also a great choice for some terrific family photos.
Best mid-range family-friendly hotel options
Mid-range family-friendly hotel chains strike a pleasing balance between affordability and comfort, offering a host of amenities tailored to both children and adults. Typically, guests can expect clean, comfortable rooms, complimentary breakfasts, and pools or play areas designed for family entertainment. With a focus on convenience, many also provide free Wi-Fi, on-site laundry facilities, and sometimes kitchenettes, all wrapped up with a warm, welcoming service that aims to make every family’s stay as stress-free as possible.
Embassy Suites are our top pick for soccer games if we are at a tournament or a location for more than one night. It’s wonderful to have the extra space of a suite (especially if I have a little work to do), and the convenience of a hot breakfast (with made-for-you omelets) is a real bonus.
When the whole team is staying at the hotel, the adults all appreciate the evening cocktail hours. The kids can enjoy snacks while we relax with a drink before dinner (or sometimes just order pizzas to eat with our drinks!). These extras really make Embassy Suites a terrific choice for soccer tournament weekends.
Even if you are just traveling with your family – not sports-related – the convenience the Embassy Suites brand offers is well suited for families. It’s nice to be able to enjoy a “real” breakfast before a day of exploring, and we’ve found the pools and hot tubs at Embassy Suites to be good too.
Embassy Suites tend to be a bit more expensive than a regular hotel room, but not so much that it’s unaffordable – we can typically stay for less than $200 per night. And when you consider the extras, you might even end up with a better deal! If you are a Hilton fan, using your Hilton points (or free night certificates) can work out well.
Budget-friendly hotel chains that don’t compromise quality
Budget-friendly hotel chains cater to families looking to maximize their travel experiences while minimizing costs. They typically offer basic, clean accommodations with essential amenities such as complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
These hotels are ideal for staying economically during travel sports seasons or frequent getaways, as they allow families to save on lodging without sacrificing the cleanliness and safety of their environment, ensuring that the bulk of the travel budget can be spent on creating memorable experiences and adventures.
When the kids were young, if I had a choice we’d almost always stay at a Staybridge Suites. The rooms are spacious, I loved having a kitchen area for leftovers and snacks, and having a free breakfast (and coffee!) was perfect.
with its suite-style accommodations, which provide ample space and a home-like atmosphere that’s particularly appealing for longer trips or weekend sports tournaments. The suites typically come with fully equipped kitchens, allowing families the convenience and cost-saving option of preparing meals just like at home. The inclusion of complimentary breakfast offers additional value and convenience for busy mornings.
Moreover, Staybridge Suites often features amenities such as free laundry facilities, which are a boon for families on the go, especially when little ones are involved. The availability of an on-site pool and outdoor spaces for relaxation and play ensures that family members of all ages have something to enjoy.
The brand’s emphasis on creating a community feel with evening socials on certain weekdays also allows families to unwind and connect with others. These thoughtful touches combine to make Staybridge Suites a reliable choice for families seeking comfort, value, and a welcoming atmosphere during their travels.
Holiday Inn Express
My other go-to choice – especially for quick weekend trips or just an overnight has always been Holiday Inn Express. They tend to be very consistent so I know what I’m getting myself into. However, I can say that after a few weekends of HIE in a row, we do start to get tired of the breakfast. That’s when I start searching out the local coffee shops!
Holiday Inn Express hotels are often quite affordable, and you can find them everywhere – which is ideal if like us you find yourself all over nearby states for soccer games! This year alone we are heading to several cities in Michigan, Ohio, and St. Louis, and guess what? There is a Holiday Inn Express in all of them.
I also look for a Holiday Inn Express when we are on a road trip. If we are heading to Florida for Indiana, we almost always stop to spend the night in Tennessee and then again in Georgia. And 95% of the time I pick a Holiday Inn Express.
If Marriott is your favorite brand, Springhill Suites is my favorite Marriott family-friendly brand. If there isn’t an Embassy Suites, our soccer club will almost always pick Springhill Suites. I like that most of them are fairly new and the rooms have tons of space!
We’ve stayed in several in Ohio, but my favorite was the Springhill Suites just outside of Disney World. It’s located quite close to the ESPN fields and has a wonderful pool area for downtime. I’d highly recommend it for games at those fields or even a trip to Disney where you want to use your Marriott points or just not stay directly onsite.
Springhill Suites do tend to be a bit pricier than some of the other budget hotel choices, but the extra space might be worth it for you. Take a look and decide for yourself.
The need for family-friendly hotels
When traveling with the kids, a family-friendly hotel isn’t just an option; it’s a necessity. For me, it’s about more than just a place to sleep—it’s a safe haven where the kids can unwind after a day of adventure, and where the adults can find a moment of repose.
Most families look for hotels that tick several boxes to ensure a seamless stay. Space is a premium commodity; families need rooms to breathe, move, and sleep comfortably, preferably with a suite option or adjoining rooms – especially as your kids get older (and bigger!).
Complimentary breakfasts are a big hit too – they fuel the day’s escapades without the added hassle of searching for a nearby restaurant – especially if we are on a road trip or hitting an amusement park or other early morning attraction. And for those pockets of downtime, swimming pools, hot tubs, and game rooms stand as the unsung heroes, keeping energy levels perfectly channeled into fun and relaxation.
Beyond leisure amenities, practicalities like laundry facilities can be a godsend for parents. A hotel that considers the messes and muddles that come with kids, and provides the means to deal with them, can be a wonderful choice for family travelers.
And let’s not overlook the importance of location—a hotel that serves as a launchpad to the day’s destinations, be it theme parks, museums, or sporting arenas, is worth its weight in gold. It’s these elements that transform a hotel from a mere building with beds to a cornerstone of a family’s travel experience.
Budget concerns: striking the balance
Navigating the financial waters of family travel requires a captain’s prudence, especially when your family is traveling every weekend like ours does during the soccer travel season. With hotel stays clocking in at 2 to 3 weekends a month, the budget quickly becomes more than a mere column of numbers—it’s top of our list of concerns.
For families like mine that are crisscrossing regions for their children’s sports teams, each dollar saved on accommodations is a dollar that can enhance the overall travel experience, be it for a celebratory meal post-game or for an unexpected adventure.
The concept of value is about strategic spending; it’s finding that sweet spot where cost and comfort find their equilibrium. It’s not always the cheapest option that provides the most value, but rather the one that offers the most for your money. This could mean hotels that offer a complimentary hot breakfast to energize the young athletes for the day or ones that provide free Wi-Fi, allowing for entertainment and connectivity without the added charges.
And sometimes you just want a bougie stay – and that’s okay too! Those are the times we splurge for a Kimpton – and because the stays are so memorable they are worth every penny – or point!
Tips for getting the best deals
Scoring the best deals on family-friendly stays requires a mix of savvy planning and strategic booking. Begin by embracing the art of flexibility; if it’s family vacations you are after, then traveling during off-peak times can lead to significant savings. Mid-week stays often come at a reduced rate compared to weekend prices, and opting for shoulder seasons over school holidays can mean quieter facilities at a fraction of the cost.
Loyalty programs are your allies in the quest for value. Sign up for hotel rewards programs where frequent stays translate into points, which can be redeemed for free nights, room upgrades, or other perks. These programs often have exclusive deals or offer free amenities that add value to your stay. Moreover, booking directly through the hotel chain’s website can sometimes unlock discounts not available on third-party booking sites.
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple ask. Inquiring about unadvertised specials or family packages during booking can lead to deals you might not have found online. Additionally, consider calling the hotel to book and ask if they can beat the prices found elsewhere; it’s a competitive industry, and many hotels have some leeway to offer better rates to direct bookers – back in the day we used to pull into the hotel late at night and see what kind of deal we could get. These days I do try to make a reservation as we can’t be as flexible, but if you can be, it’s an option.
Lastly, keep an eye on deal sites and use hotel price comparison tools to ensure you’re getting the best rate available. Just be sure to read the fine print for any hidden fees or restrictions. With these strategies in hand, your family can enjoy a great stay without breaking the bank, leaving more in your travel fund for creating those precious memories.
Cut to the chase: my favorite tips for finding the BEST family-friendly hotel
As someone who is booking family-friendly hotels every month, I’ve gotten pretty darn good and finding the best ones. Here are my favorite tips:
1. Look for multiple choices
Just today I was looking for hotels for the next few weekends (soccer games of course), and the first thing I did was open up the websites for the top chains (IHG, Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt) and look for hotels where we are traveling.
2. Use the map features to narrow down your choices
All of the chains have a map feature you can use to determine where their hotels are located. This helps me narrow down my choices to the ones close to where we plan on spending our time. If it’s a soccer game, I look for hotels near the field. If it’s a family getaway I am looking for a hotel that is near the beach, attractions, or even just a fancy downtown location. By now I usually have only two or three options.
3. Check reviews for your top choices
I always take a look at the reviews – if I see the same issue mentioned over and over, I know it’s probably true. Plus, sometimes I’ll see something the website doesn’t mention that may or may not be a big deal for me.
For example, on a recent trip, I was debating between a Hyatt Place and a Holiday Inn Express. The review told me the Hyatt didn’t have any meat for breakfast. It’s a soccer trip and I know the boys will want meat – so Holiday Inn Express it was!
4. Call the hotels you are considering
My final step is to call the hotels I am considering and ask them when they were last remodeled. If my choices are hotels that haven’t been remodeled in years versus one that was renovated last year, my choice is obvious – I’m going for the newly renovated one every time!
Conclusion: The best family hotel chains for every budget
When it comes to travel, finding a balance between cost, comfort, and convenience is key, and the hotels we’ve reviewed (and that I stay at frequently) masterfully combine these important factors.
Kimpton Hotels, with its vibrant approach to family travel, ensures that style and service create a memorable experience. The Gaylord properties immerse guests in a world where grandeur meets family fun, while Embassy Suites delivers on the promise of spacious rooms and free breakfasts that take the pressure off parents and wallets alike.
For those looking for a home away from home, Staybridge Suites offers the allure of residential-style living with the perks of hotel hospitality, perfect for longer stays or those busy sports weekends. Holiday Inn Express stands as a testament to the joys of simplicity, providing all the necessities for a comfortable and efficient stay, ensuring families leave well-rested and ready for the day’s adventures.
Each of these chains has its unique charm, capable of catering to the diverse needs and budgets of traveling families. Whether it’s a luxurious resort experience, a suite with a kitchen, or a simple stay that includes a hearty breakfast, the key is to choose the one that aligns with your family’s travel ethos. By prioritizing what matters most to your family, be it location, amenities, or cost, your selection from these reputable hotel chains will not just be a room for the night but a chapter in your family’s travel story.