The 10 Best Hotel Chains For Families in 2016
#1 for Budget: Residence Inn
(650+ U.S. locations)
FAB FOR FAMILIES The hotel's smallest type of room (a studio suite) is 450 square feet—roughly 20 percent larger than other choices in this category. One-bedroom suites are considerably bigger and have a door separating the master bedroom (which can have a king or two queens) from a living area with a sleeper sofa. Two-bedroom suites are available in many locations. All rooms feature a full-size fridge, a dishwasher, an oven, a microwave, free grocery delivery and plenty of pantry space. And more than 60 percent of the locations are new or have been renovated recently.
FRESH IDEA Every Monday to Wednesday night, families can drop by the lobby for the "Residence Inn Mix" program, featuring food-truck fare, restaurant pop-in tastings, and a backyard BBQ, depending on the night and location.
MINT LOCATION The new Residence Inn Miami Beach Surfside is near the city’s South Beach and offers an outdoor pool. Rates start at $170 per night at residenceinn.marriott.com.
#2 for Budget: Hyatt Place
(230 U.S. locations)
FAB FOR FAMILIES More than 75 percent of the locations are new or renovated in the last three years. The room itself has a floor-to- ceiling divider between the sleeping area and the "cozy corner," with a sofa, flat-screen TV, and mini fridge.
FRESH IDEA The chain's free breakfast buffet has expanded in most locations to include healthier options, such as garden-vegetable, egg-whitebreakfastsandwiches,fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal, in addition to the regular faves like cinnamon French toast and waffles.MINT LOCATION Near many of the historic attractions, Hyatt Place Washington DC/National Mall has an outdoor rooftop pool and terrace. Rates for a room with two queen beds start at $179 per night; hyattplace.com.
#3 for Budget: SpringHill Suites
(300+ U.S. locations)
FAB FOR FAMILIES There's a roomy living area with a microwave, a mini fridge, a couch, and a flat-screen TV. : A floor-to-ceiling desk features a frosted glass divider that separates the spacious living area from the bedroom.The free breakfast includes a yogurt-and-toppings bar, waffles and Nutella, and lots of fruit. In the last five years, the chain has showcased more than 2,000 pieces of artwork in its lobbies as part of its ArtNight series.
FRESH IDEA Many locations have recently added a bar where parents can grab a craft beer or a glass of local wine to take back up to the room or enjoy in the lobby while the kids hang out.
MINT LOCATION If you're headed to Walt Disney World and plan to rent a car, think about staying at the SpringHill Suites Orlando Kissimmee, about a 20-minute drive to the Magic Kingdom. It offers three pools, mini golf, and a splash pad—plus it has special Disney touches, such as Mickey-shaped waffles for breakfast.Rates for a suite with two double beds start at $139 per night; marriott.com/springhillsuites.
#4 for Budget: Hilton Garden Inn
(560 U.S. locations)
FAB FOR FAMILIES The Hilton Garden Inn has tweaked the design of its standard rooms in the hotel's new properties to make them more family-friendly—providing more counter space, storage for clothes, charging stations, and seating. Plus, every room features a Keurig. All locations offer free Wi-Fi and most have pools.
FRESH FOR FALL Download the Hilton HHonors app to check in using your smartphone and choose your specific room—just as you would pick a seat on an airplane. You might want, for instance, to have a room near the indoor pool. The app also allows you to access your room, using a digital key.
MINT LOCATION Located in the Smokey Mountains near Dollywood and the WonderWorks Indoor Amusement Park, the new Hilton Garden Inn Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, keeps kids entertained with an indoor and outdoor pool featuring a spiral waterslide. Rates for a room with two queen beds start at $179 per night, hiltongardeninn.com.
#5 for Budget: Wingate by Wyndham
(150+ U.S. locations)FAB FOR FAMILIES You can't beat the price for a standard room. Starting rates in many areas are less than $100 per night and include a free breakfast buffet and pools at most locations.FRESH IDEA The brand has a unique loyalty program, Wyndham Rewards, that allows you to redeem some of your points for discounts on your stay.MINT LOCATION Stay at the Wingate by Wyndham Atlanta/Buckhead to visit the nearby Georgia Aquarium and Zoo Atlanta. With plush bedding and marble bathrooms, the location feels luxe.Fall rates for a room with two double beds start at $139 per night; wingateatlanta.com.
#1 for Mid-Range: Embassy Suites Hotel by Hilton
(229 U.S. locations)
FAB FOR FAMILIES You don't have to splurge on an upgrade for more space and privacy—every room is a suite with a door separating the living area (the kids' hangout, with a TV and sleeper sofa) from the bedroom (your digs). Its free breakfast buffet offers cooked-to-order eggs, omelets, and pancakes, plus an oatmeal and Greek-yogurt toppings bar.
FRESH FOR FALL Napkins with games on them, like a tic-tac-toe board or a word search, keep kids engaged during the free nightly evening reception with snacks and drinks (wine and beer for you, juice and milk for the kids). The chain also made baby- and kid-specific "do not disturb" signs. All staff received special training on interacting with kids.
MINT LOCATION Located on the top 11 floors of the historic Henry W. Oliver Building, the new Embassy Suites by Hilton Pittsburgh Downtown is near PNC Park (catch a baseball game). Rates for a suite with queen beds start at $189; embassysuites.com.
#2 for Mid-Range: Loews Hotels & Resorts
(25 U.S. locations)
FAB FOR FAMILIES Loews curates the coolest partnerships to keep your kids happy. In Florida, where the chain has teamed up with Universal Orlando on four resorts and has another opening July 2016 in the works, families receive early admission to the theme parks so they can beat the crowds on the í¼ber-popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In San Diego, Loews has a deal with a local organic farm to provide "Farm School" programs for families—that allow them to help care for the animals and grow vegetables. On top of that, the hotel saves you from toting around extra luggage, offering loaner strollers, high chairs, and other gear. Room design varies by location, and some properties, like Cabana Bay Beach Resort, in Orlando, offer family suites that sleep up to six.
FRESH IDEA Loews offers a "uniquely local" welcome gift for kids—for instance, kids in Nashville receive a cowboy hat and a toy guitar while those in Miami get a plush flamingo and a copy of Good Night Miami (a riff on Goodnight Moon). In Boston, families who book the new Make Way for Ducklings package receive a copy of the classic children’s book plus milk and cookies and a stuffed duckling toy.To encourage more adventurous eating, this hotel chain is piloting a "Precocious Plates" kids' menu in several cities—offering, for instance, a blue-crab po' boy in New Orleans and pan-seared grouper in St. Pete Beach.
MINT LOCATION Opened in March, the Loews Chicago hotel woos families with an indoor pool, spacious guest rooms that sleep up to five, and a fab address near popular attractions like Chicago's Children's Museum at Navy Pier. Kids receive a water bottle, sunglasses, Garrett's popcorn, and a scavenger-hunt activity book at check-in to take with them around the city. Rates for a room with two double beds start at $249 per night; loewshotels.com.
#3 for Mid-Range: Omni Hotels & Resorts
(60 U.S. locations)FAB FOR FAMILIES It has a knack for restoring historic resorts. For instance, the two-century-old Omni Bedford Springs Resort, in Pennsylvania, was closed for 12 years before the chain purchased it and transformed it into a family mecca—with a vast lawn for playing games, tire swings by the s'mores pit, and a kids' explorers club, as well as indoor and outdoor pools. Every location gives kids a backpack at check-in. It's stuffed with activity books, crayons, and a memory match-up game that's themed around health and nutrition. The room design varies by property, but most of the locations offer suites.FRESH IDEA Little ones will receive complimentary milk and cookies delivered to their room on the first night of their stay.
MINT LOCATION At the base of the mountain in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the Omni Mount Washington Resort wows families with archery lessons, disc golf, fly-fishing, and carriage rides as well as spa treatments, a playground with a carousel and a mini zip line, and a heated outdoor pool. Rates for rooms with two double beds start at $289 per night; omnihotels.com.
#4 for Mid-Range: Hyatt House
(67 U.S. locations) FAB FOR FAMILIES Many locations offer two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites for what you'd pay for a single room at a higher-end chain. All room types have a kitchen with a full-size fridge, a microwave, an oven, and tools you need to cook (and eat) a meal. You can take advantage of outdoor grills and swimming pools at most locations.FRESH IDEA No car? No problem. Most locations offer free shuttle service within a 5-mile radius.MINT LOCATION The newly renovated Hyatt House Houston/Galleria is just a few minutes away from the zoo and the children's museum.Rates for a one-bedroom suite start at $149 per night; hyatthouse.com.
#5 for Mid-Range: Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
(187 U.S. locations)FAB FOR FAMILIES More affordable than its Starwood cousins, like Westin and Aloft, Sheraton offers many similar features including the "sweet sleeper" beds and cribs, pools, and an all-inclusive dining program for kids 12 and under. Usually for $10 to $15 per day, kids receive beverages whenever they're thirsty and can have meals in participating restaurants (as long as parents are eating too).FRESH IDEA Take advantage of the "pay rates equal to your birth year" promotion. You pay the first night at the regular rate and get a discount on the second and third nights (for instance, $85 per night if you were born in 1985).MINT LOCATION The Sheraton Steamboat Resort, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, offers new suites with a kitchen and a washer/dryer. Activities on the mountain include gondola rides, alpine slides, and biking (with rentals for all levels) plus resort-based pools and game room. Rates for suites start at $249 per night and a room with two double beds at $189 per night; starwoodhotels.com/sheraton.