How to Use Points and Have Your Family Stay in One Room in Europe
One of the questions I get on a regular basis is to how use points for hotels in Europe for a family of four. For those who have never traveled outside the US with a family it often comes as a surprise that this is such a real challenge if you want to avoid having to pay for two rooms. However, due to room size and strict occupancy limits, it is a real issue that traveling families face. While some like to utilize apartments and condos to have more room in Europe, many families prefer to earn or use points to stay at traditional hotels. While I have posted a few tips related to this issue, I haven't yet done a truly comprehensive post. So, I asked father of two children, Jason Steele (featured in this Little C's Traveling Friends post), if he could help research a few possible solutions, and here is what we found.Using Points For Family Friendly Hotels In Europe
Family travel in Europe is not like it is in the United States. Here, parents can easily find rooms with two queen beds, or with a sofa bed. And even when there is only a single bed, parents are free to have their children camp out on the floor in a sleeping bag (In fact, my daughter prefers that option!).
But in much of Europe, hotels abide by strict occupancy limits on each room. And when you combine that with the fact that most European rooms are far smaller than those in American hotels, families quickly realize that it is a challenge to find accommodations for two adults and two children in a single room. Furthermore, hotels in Europe are less frequently connected with a pass through door, so reserving two adjoining rooms may not even be possible at all locations.
How to find family-friendly hotels using points
But don’t give up hope yet, there are still a few hotel chains that offer accommodations for four people in Europe. I looked at the major chains to find family-friendly properties that can be booked with points, and here is what I found:
First, always search for just two adults. Many of the searches I performed for two adults and two children came back empty, but when I searched for two adults, it returned properties that did have family rooms available.
Next, be very skeptical of the maximum occupancy listed for a room, as I found large rooms with multiple beds that still showed a maximum occupancy of two or three. For the purpose of comparison, I would assume that any room with multiple queen or king beds sleeps four as well as rooms with a bed and a sofa bed. Suites also work well for families, and in my experience, I have never had a problem when sleeping four in a suite using rollaway beds. But in the absence of an accurate web site, it is always smart to confirm this arrangement with specific properties before booking.
And finally, watch out for outrageous fees for cribs and rollaway beds. For example, the Holiday Inn London – Mayfair charges an amazing 35 GBP (~$55 USD) per night for a crib or rollaway!
I looked at most of the major loyalty programs to see what was available for families in popular European cities including London, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, and Barcelona. Here is what I found:
Starwood’s corporate site returns little when searching for two adults and two children (read this post to learn more about that phenomenon), but results are better when you search the sites of the individual hotels. According to Starwood’s site, children who are 12 or younger sleep for free in the existing bedding of a room shared with a paying adult. Rollaways, child rollaways and cribs may incur extra charges.
All of the Starwood properties I found at the five cities in Europe only allowed four guests in their suites, which are sometimes quite expensive, and not bookable with points online. You can call or chat with SPG online to find out the exact points or cash + points prices for suites. Platinum members in Starwood’s SPG program can be upgraded to suites, but it is not confirmed until check in, so that isn't overly useful for families who need to confirm the space ahead of time.
Even paying with cash, there are a few Starwood properties with accommodations for four such as:
Sheraton Skyline Hotel London Heathrow has family rooms with two double beds starting at 120 GBP (~$188 USD). Two adults and two children can stay in these rooms.
Le Méridien Piccadilly has club rooms with two queen beds from 359 GBP (~$563 USD), but since they are not suites, you could get upgraded or perhaps pay a small up-charge to confirm the rooms in advance.
Sheraton Heathrow Hotel has family rooms with a queen and single bed, which could work if they have a crib or rollaway.
Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel and Conference Center where a King + 2 single beds sells for EUR 263.00. This is a great property attached to the terminal, but EUR 263.00 (~$350.00 USD) is not inexpensive.
St. Regis Rome is very clear on their website that children 12 and under are free in the existing bedding of a room shared with a paying adult. They also state that there is no extra charge for rollaways and cribs, but that not all room types can accommodate rollaways and cribs. I have read several positive reports of a family of four staying in the Imperial room (largest non-suite room type). This is a pricy Category 6 SPG hotel, but just as many St. Regis are, this hotel seems to be willing to accommodate families to the best of its ability.
This is one of my favorite programs for family travel, as it is one of the few that allows you to reserve suites for a reasonable number of points, usually about 50% more than a standard room. See their award chart. But the maddening thing is that Hyatt’s web site often inaccurately lists the maximum occupancy of its suites. For an example of how their site misrepresents the maximum guest count, the Ambassador Suite at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome includes two bedrooms, each with a king bed, but still lists the maximum guests per room as three!
Nevertheless, most suites paid for with points or Diamond upgrade certificates will not be this size, but even the basic king suites will be likely to have either a sofa bed or the floor space to accommodate a rollaway. If you are used to staying in American hotels, this may not sound like a big deal, but it is the limiting factor in many urban European hotels where standard rooms might only have a foot or two between the bed and the walls!
Here are all of the Hyatt properties in the European cities I looked at:
Andaz Liverpool Street London is a Cat. 5 property with suites requiring 27,000 points per night, but specifies “no rollaways.” Yet, their “Large King” rooms have rollaways upon request.
Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill is a Cat. 6 property with suites requiring 33,000 points per night. Their standard rooms have cribs and rollaway beds available upon request, yet still list maximum occupancy as three guests. Like many properties, they do offer a 50% discount on a second connecting room booked for children 12 and under.
Hôtel du Louvre - Paris is a Cat. 5 property with suites requiring 27,000 points per night.
Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome is a Cat. 6 property with suites requiring 33,000 points per night and lists cribs and rollaway beds available upon request. Note that the Standard Park Queen rooms only accommodate two people. You can have a baby in as the third according to many reports, but even a toddler would possibly count as a third person and not be allowed. You would need a larger (and pricier) Park Deluxe King to have a rollaway and a third person/child. Diamond members do sometimes receive complimentary upgrades to this larger room. A Park Suite King would afford even more room, but still lists a max occupancy of 3.
Hyatt Paris Madeleine is a Cat. 6 property but is on the short list of Hyatts that do not allow you to redeem points for suite awards. Their basic king suite has a sofabed and crib available upon request. It actually lists four maximum guests for their suite, so it is good if you can get it, but the policy is you can't book with 33k points to do it. The other room types list a maximum occupancy of 3.
Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile is a Cat. 5 property with suites requiring 27,000 points per night.
Hyatt Regency Paris - Charles de Gaulle is a Cat. 3 property with suites requiring 18,000 points per night.
There are no Hyatt properties in Rome at this time.
Hyatt Regency Mainz is west of the Frankfurt Airport and is a Cat. 3 property with suites requiring 18,000 points per night. Cribs are available upon request. Their standard rooms list an occupancy limit of two adults and one child. Their suite lists a maximum occupancy of 3.
There are no Hyatt properties in Barcelona at this time.
Also remember that with Hyatt you can also confirm a suite for four nights for just 6,000 points on top of a paid rate. That may be a good solution at certain European Hyatt hotels if you aren't rolling in Hyatt points.
This turns out to be a great program for families as many of their mid-range and budget properties offer family rooms throughout Europe.
Days Hotel London- Waterloo has family rooms for 16,000 points per night. This picture appears to show two twin beds and a sofa/futon bed.
Days Inn London Hyde Park has what they call “quad rooms” for 20,000 points. These appear to have two twin beds and a double bed.
Days Hotel Gatwick also has “quad rooms” for only 8,000 points.
Wyndham Grand London Chelsea Harbour is an all suite hotel for 30,000 points. These have separate seating areas with sofa beds.
TRYP Paris Francois Hotel has a really neat family room with bunk beds!
There are no Wyndham properties in Rome at this time.
Sadly, none of the six Wyndham properties within 30 miles of Frankfurt have rooms available with award points that accommodate four guests.
TRYP Barcelona Apolo Hotel is another TRYP property that features family rooms with bunk beds.
Setting aside the massive devaluation of Hilton points earlier this year, this program is also a poor choice for families. Suites that accommodate four guests can sometimes be booked with points, but doing so requires a massive quantity of points. Nevertheless, here were the best deals that I could find:
Hilton London Docklands Riverside is a Cat. 6 hotel, that features a family room. 33,374 points per night are needed for an award, but I found rooms available off season for 109 GBP (~$170 USD). The rooms have one double or two twin beds and a sofa bed.
Hilton Dartford Bridge Hotel has “double double” guest rooms with two queen beds that sleep four. Rooms sell for as little as 79 GBP (~$123 USD) or 30,000 points. There is also a King Hilton Plus room with a sofa bed that sleeps two adults and two children.
Hilton properties here that have rooms that accommodate four guests start at EUR 365 or 125,000 points, hardly worth considering for most.
There are no Hilton properties in Rome that have rooms for four guests.
No Hilton property in Frankfurt accommodates four guests for anything close to a reasonable price.
There are no Hilton properties in Barcelona that have rooms for four guests.
This is another program that offers a lot of properties in Europe, some with family-friendly accommodations that can be booked with points. In addition to the options below, there were several reasonably priced properties that did not have family-friendly rooms that could be booked with points. Remember if you have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature that your last award night is free (even with non-standard rooms), so that makes some of these even better deals!
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London has studio rooms with sofa beds for four people that require 75,000 points. The views of Big Ben and Parliament are stunning as well!
Park Inn London Watford has business friendly rooms that accommodate 2 adults and 2 children for 42,000 points.
Park Inn Paris By Radisson Charles de Gaulle Airport also has “business friendly” family rooms with sofa beds from 57,000 points.
Radisson Blu Hotel at Disneyland Paris has family rooms with sofabeds from 75,000 points.
There are no Club Carlson properties in Rome that accommodate four guests.
There are no Club Carlson properties in Frankfurt that accommodate four guests.
There are no Club Carlson properties in Barcelona.
The Marriott program offers some rooms that sleep four, and often show the room layouts online. Here are a few:
Marriott has dozens of properties in London, here are a few with rooms that sleep four:
London Heathrow Marriott Hotel has rooms with two double beds that sleep four for 30,000 points.
Heathrow/Windsor Marriott Hotel has rooms with two double beds that sleep four for 25,000 points.
London Marriott Hotel Twickenham has rooms with two double beds that sleep four for 30,000 points and is actually in a rugby stadium.
London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
There are 12 Marriott properties in Paris, here are a few that offer family rooms or suites:
Renaissance Paris Le Parc Trocadero Hotel has rooms for 40,000 points, but a family Junior suite with a sofabed that sleeps for requires an additional 180 EUR!
Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel has a junior suite with a king bed and a sofabed for 45,000 points plus 130 EUR, but the maximum occupancy is listed as 3 plus a crib. I would contact the hotel to confirm that 2 kids could share the sofabed.
Marriott's Village d'lle-de-France has 2 bedroom townhomes for 40,000 points plus 2 upgrade certificates, which are 5,000 points each. 3 bedroom townhouses are available with an additional upgrade certificate
Rome: None of the five Marriott properties in Rome offer rooms that accommodate four.
Frankfurt: Neither of the two Marriott properties in Frankfurt offer rooms that accommodate four.
Barcelona: None of the ten Marriott properties in Barcleona offer rooms that accommodate four.
Priority Club (IHG):
IHG’s web site appears to accurately show the maximum number of guests in a room.
Of 71 IHG properties in the London area, 41 have rooms that sleep four, usually with a sofa bed. Here are a few:
Holiday Inn Express London - Heathrow T5 has rooms with sofa beds that sleep four for 20,000 points.
Holiday Inn Express London - City has rooms with sofa beds that sleep four for 35,000 points.
Eight of the 19 IHG properties in the Paris area have rooms that sleep four, usually with sofa beds, including:
InterContinental Paris - Le Grand has rooms with sofa beds for 50,000 points.
Holiday Inn Paris - Elysées has rooms with sofa beds for 35,000 points.
Four of the six IHG properties in Rome have rooms that sleep four and can be booked with points, including:
Crowne Plaza Rome - St. Peter's has rooms with sofa beds for 30,000 points.
Holiday Inn Rome - Eur Parco Dei Medici has rooms with sofa beds for 25,000 points.
Three of the eight IHG properties in the Frankfurt area have rooms that sleep four and can be booked with points:
Crowne Plaza Wiesbaden for 20,000 points, but rollaways cost an outrageous EUR 30 per night!
Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt Airport has rooms with sofa beds for 15,000 points.
Holiday Inn Frankfurt-City South Conference Center for 25,000 points, but have a crazy EUR 20 rollaway charge.
Three of the five IHG properties in the Barcelona area have rooms that sleep four and can be booked with points:
Holiday Inn Express Barcelona - City 22 has rooms with sofa beds for 20,000 points.
Holiday Inn Express Barcelona - Molins De Rei has rooms with sofa beds for 15,000 points.
Holiday Inn Express Barcelona - Sant Cugat has rooms with sofa beds for 10,000 points.
Other notes: Accor has numerous of properties across Europe, and their web site lists the maximum occupancy of each room. In addition, many of their properties offer the second room at half price. LeClub Accor is a fixed value point system where 2,000 Accor points converts to $60 USD when making an award reservation, so you just search by price to find what you need.
The Choice Privileges program also has many affordable properties across Europe, but account holders need to have points available to search award bookings. Furthermore, their properties in Europe appear to be considerably more upscale than the budget accommodations commonly associated with Choice properties in the United States.
If you end up needing two rooms, do inquire with the hotel about the possibility of the second room being half off. I have seen such programs available at some properties with Hyatt, Starwood, Hilton, and others. I have also read many success stories of families being offered the option to pay a reasonable fee to upgrade to a room large enough to hold two children when they contact the property directly. Bottom line, don't just assume a hotel room in Europe will be able to house your family of four. Do your homework and work with the hotel directly. If you want to stay in a room with your three or more children, I would say that will be very hard to impossible in most European hotels. You would be better off in most cases with two rooms or looking at apartment style accommodations.
If you have traveled abroad with your family, I'd love to hear how you worked out your hotel room situation!
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