Extended Stay Hotels Are Made for Business Travel But Perfect for Families
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Finding an incredible hotel that ticks all the right boxes is challenging enough for a solo explorer but it’s an even taller task for families with infants. I recently traveled with my wife and newly adopted son to New York City and wound up really appreciating a hotel that was designed for someone else: the long-term business traveler. The Home2 Suites by Hilton Long Island City not only saved us a bundle compared to hotels in Manhattan but also provided essential amenities that would have been hard to come by on the other side of the East River.
Extended Stay Hotels are Cheap(er)
Chains like Home2 Suites by Hilton, Extended Stay America, Residence Inn by Marriott, Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites aren’t exactly aspirational. These are neither hotels that you save points for years to splurge on nor the type of hotel where you’d necessarily want to burn a free night certificate from a credit card. But that’s OK — they are great solutions for those willing to turn their nose down a bit and appreciate them for what they are.
During my three-night stay in New York, I paid $238 per night (plus local taxes/fees) for a suite with a king bed, a pull-out sofa and 657 square feet of space for stretching out. For comparison, diminutive rooms with one-third of that space were going for $500+ in Manhattan for the same nights. Yes, we gave up being in the middle of it all, but the hotel was just three quick subway stops away from Central Park. In less urban destinations, where you need a car to explore regardless of where you stay, there’s even more reason to consider a property like Home2 Suites.
Ah, The Amenities of Home
Our 3-month-old infant is (thankfully) a pro traveler. He’s visited seven states and conquered eight flights in his short amount of time on Earth. Still, he requires things like formula, clean bottles, a suitable bathing station and frequent access to a washing machine. As it turns out, the amenities required to serve those needs are essentially the requirements of long-term business travelers as well. And, the hotel had a crib we could borrow for the duration of our stay so we didn’t have to bring one from home. (Just realize that some hotels don’t promise the availability of cribs or other baby amenities.)
Our suite was equipped with a full-size refrigerator and freezer, a dishwasher, a stove and a microwave. That made it simple to clean his bottles and keep open containers of formula refrigerated. There was also a huge sink that doubled as a great bathing station after we asked for extra towels to create a soft basin. The stove enabled us to heat and boil water, while the microwave proved useful for heating up a neck pillow.
I also found myself surprisingly giddy at the notion of having legitimate silverware. I’ve tried on many occasions to use a plastic knife to slice an apple in a ritzy hotel room. While you could always ask room service at other hotels to bring you real utensils, extended-stay hotels typically offer dishes and silverware right in the room. My suite had enough for an entire family, which made slicing the free apples offered 24/7 in the lobby delightfully simple.
It’s easy to lose track of all the little things a family leans on at home when it comes to infant care, but staying in a typical hotel room brings them to light quickly. Extended-stay hotels attempt to re-create the setting of home for those who will be away for long periods of time, which winds up being a boon to families visiting for just a few nights.
Base Rooms Are Still Suites
At most hotels, reserving a suite means shelling out big bucks or lots-o-points. Many chains won’t even let you use a reasonable number of points to book a room with niceties like dishwashers and pull-out sofas. But when a hotel is designed to feel more like an apartment than a shoebox, even the standard rooms are great.
The base room at Home2 Suites by Hilton Long Island City is marketed as a “studio suite,” which meant that I didn’t have to pay extra for a massive space. I have Diamond status within the Hilton portfolio, an included benefit of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. While there was no available upgrade beyond that available, I was assigned a room on the highest floor of the hotel with an excellent view of Manhattan. A hot breakfast was included for my family for free.
Exploration Is Encouraged
While our massive-for-NYC room was ideal for families who just want more space, it wasn’t located in the hottest of spots. Extended-stay properties are generally built in safe but generally unremarkable areas. I view this as a positive, as it creates a roomy, comfortable home base that is not so attractive that you forget to leave the premises.
In our case, the Home2 Suites by Hilton Long Island City was just three short blocks from a brand-new subway station (39th Avenue–Dutch Kills) with multiple lines running to Manhattan. We could reach Central Park within 15 minutes of leaving the room. For those who prefer private transit, there was no shortage of Lyft drivers available to whisk us across the Queensboro Bridge. (I use Lyft because of its partnership with Delta, enabling me to earn SkyMiles with each ride.)
For perspective, our Long Island City hotel was closer to Central Park than the citizenM New York Bowery Hotel that I reviewed late last year, even though the citizenM is in Manhattan.
My family enjoyed our stay at Home2 Suites by Hilton Long Island City. My wife wasn’t exactly impressed by the residential surroundings, but it was cheap (for NYC) and easy to get from there to the main tourist spots. While we paid cash, it is often bookable for 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night. As a plus, the location ensured that we weren’t awakened during the night by the pulsing sounds of the city.
The layout also made things effortless when it came to caring for our infant. We didn’t lack for space or amenities, two things that are mighty hard to come by for a reasonable sum in the Big Apple. Paying less than half of the going rates for hotels in Manhattan enabled a family like ours to spend more on activities and meals while still enjoying Diamond perks thanks to the property’s affiliation with the Hilton portfolio.
You’ve no doubt heard that priorities tend to shift once you become a parent (or grandparent!). As a new parent, I’m currently more interested in things like refrigerators, dishwashers, quiet neighborhoods and ample space in our hotel selections than I am rooftop bars and marble bathtubs. Don’t get me wrong — children and adults alike can appreciate glass-bottom floors in French Polynesia, overwater bungalows in the Maldives and all the finer luxuries of travel. I’ll just make sure our son has graduated to solid foods before planning those reservations.
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All images by Darren Murph / TPG.
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