An observation made by visitors to some European countries is that they seem to be more ‘family-friendly’ than the UK. Nations like Belgium and several southern European countries have a reputation for this. However, that does not mean the UK is a bad place to take the kids.
Plenty of restaurants, pubs and hotels now make allowances for children and even gear some of their services to them. Indeed, these have grown in number and prominence. It is for this reason that even large hotels have been working hard to gain a large slice of the family market. An obvious example is the ‘kids go free’ policy for families staying at the Premier Inn. It adds in a free breakfast too and also has child-friendly evening menus.
However, it is not just large chains that can gear themselves up for kids. Undoubtedly discounts and promotions can help a great deal to promote family-friendliness and those keen to hotel booking may be attracted by these. However, that does not mean there are no other issues or factors to consider, as hotels may – or may not – have a wide array of other facilities that are child-friendly, such as family rooms and appropriately-sized beds, a kids’ club, conveniently designed bathroom facilities and play space. The extent to which a hotel has these, as well as elements like price discounts and freebies, can mark out whether a hotel is truly family-friendly. However, it is important to be realistic; if a hotel is in the countryside it may be more likely to have spacious lawns and gardens for kids to play in than an establishment in the middle of a busy city.
For all that, the key for any family is to ensure any place they stay at does not operate in a way that is inconvenient for the kids, such as holding a loud late-night disco. Some parents will need to check for baby-changing facilities. Indeed, those with infants may also want to establish the hotel’s policy over the thorny issue of breastfeeding. Opinion over whether this is permissible in the middle of a dining area, for example, does vary – however unfair this may be. That may infuriate nursing mothers, but finding out beforehand should ensure no awkward incidents arise. Indeed, it may act as a litmus test for whether a hotel really is as ‘family-friendly as it claims to be.