The Deal Mommy

The Most Miserable Hotel Stay I’ve Had in a Long Time

I’m just back from Soave Italy via Des Moines, Iowa. (I know.) I’m also just off my most miserable hotel stay in a long time.

To be fair, the problem had nothing to do with the hotel. The problem had to do with a family of four, including a teen boy and a tween girl, trying to exist in a single hotel room. 

This trip made me remember why I avoid a single hotel room with a family of four like the plague. The bottom line is that a teen boy and a tween girl aren’t going to sleep in the same bed by choice, and I’m not going to force them to do it. So we ended up with a boys in one bed, girls in the other sleeping situation. 

Chaos ensued, as anyone with trying to share a bed with a teenager or tween kid might expect. Choruses of “stop kicking me!”, “turn the TV down!” and “what’s that smell?” rang from the rafters. The result of this was four sleep-deprived, cranky, and all-around miserable people. 

The interior courtyard door of our colonial era house. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, July 2017

The interior courtyard door of our colonial era house. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, July 2017

I have no idea why families do this to themselves when there are is any other option. The Deal Family has traveled together for over a hundred nights in the last three years. The vast majority of those nights featured a separate bedroom for the kids, and in many cases a bedroom for each kid. I feel so strongly about vacation rentals that I’m speaking on the topic at Chicago Seminars

The cost between a vacation rental and a hotel room is nominal, and in many cases the vacation rental costs less. For instance: in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay last summer I paid about $150/night for our three bedroom historic house. The alternatives were the Radisson at 44,000 points/night or a variety of independent hotels in the $150 price range for a single room. 

I’ve argued that hotel status matters less for families and this last stay reinforced why. Sure, we don’t get “free breakfast” and the pool in a resort town might not be as fancy, but I’ll trade both of those for a good night’s sleep with my husband instead of an uncomfortable one with my daughter. 

So my question is for those of you who prefer hotel stays with families to vacation rentals: how do you sleep?  Not just how well do you sleep, but how do you handle sleeping arrangements? Please share your thoughts in the comments- I really want to know how you make it work.  

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12 thoughts on “The Most Miserable Hotel Stay I’ve Had in a Long Time

  1. Kuskit

    We averaged 30 nights a year in hotels. We usually try to get a room with two beds and a sofa bed; but there are some cases when we are stuck in a two bedroom room. We have a tween girl and a tween boy. I could count less than a handful of times when this has been an issue. We always try to get them where it hurts them the most. In our case what works like magic is taking away their electronic devices.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Deterrence is certainly an option. Do you go boys/girls with sleeping or are they ok sharing a bed? Mine pretty much revolted at 11 and 8. Deal Kid actually slept on the floor numerous times before I went boys/girls. I didn’t feel right paying for a hotel room if one of my kids was camping.

  2. P

    I agree with you.
    Status means less for families. Usually free breakfast is only for two people and don’t include children of a certain age of children eat free.
    Some families try to save money by just staying in a room. I think this is fine for Marriott Residence Inns and some Hyatt Places and extended stay hotels if people like staying in hotels, but even those places are trying to limit standard rooms to just those ones with one king bed so it’s more expensive for families. I like your ideas of vacation rentals though. I think this is perfect for families as well.

  3. Kuskit

    Neither of them like the floor, so they still sleep on one bed if needed. One sleeps at the head of the bed and the other at the foot of the bed. I know that pretty soon they will need their own room and beds. We were trying to recall the last time this was an issue but it must have been at least 5 years. By the time we get back to the hotel we are ready for bed.

    Certain hotel brands for me have been a disappointment. Specially “Residence Inns” I could not remember why I had refused to stay at one but a month ago, I stayed at one and once again it was a total disappointment

    i’m new at this miles and points business and I wished I had known about it long ago. I could have saved a whole lot of money. I slowly started 3 years ago and a year and a half after, I stayed over 30 days in hotels for free.

    In regards to vacation rentals, I have tried some options but they don’t seem to save me any money. So I have not stayed in one yet. Am I doing something wrong???

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Kuskit,
      I use flexible points, such as Barclay’s Arrival, to help defray the costs of vacation rentals. Of all the chain properties, Hyatt Place is the only one I can consistently find two queens plus a sofabed. However, status makes no difference at Hyatt Place so working for it isn’t an issue.

  4. JHG

    I also have a teen boy and a tween girl who do not like to share a bed. We also travel a ton, and from time to time find ourselves crammed into one room with 2 beds. This happens most often when we just have a layover night at an airport. We’ve had to layover 4 times already at LAX this year and LAX lodging is my nemesis. I have yet to find a good family option. I often use Marriott free nights, but can’t rely on getting upgraded to a suite during busy times. Anyone have any suggestions? We really, at a minimum, need a room with 3 beds (and sofa beds are just fine.) For our upcoming layover during Christmas break I booked 2 rooms on hotwire instead of using points. The rooms were only $80 each and we ended up getting Renaissance Los Angeles Airport (where we haven’t stayed before.) We still have one more upcoming overnight layover at LAX and I have a Marriott free night for a room (up to 25k points.) Any suggestions?

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Last year during our six week Camp Mom trip in South America, the only two nights that had four to two beds were at airport hotels. Most South American properties wouldn’t let me book four to a room even if I had wanted to. A suite won’t solve the problem if it’s a king and a sofabed. Hyatt Place is the only chain property where I can consistently book two queens and a sofabed. I’ve yet to find a Marriott where you can directly book that category, but occasionally I’ll see a Residence Inn with two bedrooms.

      1. JHG

        I got excited when I saw that I could book a room at Springhill Suites LAX (2 queens and a sofa bed) with my free Marriott night. Then I saw that they don’t offer a hotel shuttle. That free night wouldn’t so free! I ended up taking your advice and I booked the Hyatt Place for 12k points. For a quick overnight, that should be fine (although all of us sharing one bathroom even is a challenge anymore. I need to face up to the fact that even for one night, we are outgrowing the ability to share a room as a family of four!) Thanks for the help and commiseration!

  5. Shannon

    We’re a family of 5 so staying in one room is always a problem. I’ve yet to splurge for two rooms. Twin girls that are 11, one boy who is 8. I purchased a small Aero bed, smaller than a twin, that we’ve used for the third kid. Sometimes we’ll find a big comfy chair in the room, one of the kids will sleep in that. Hyatt Places are nice, but there just aren’t enough of them. As far as sleeping arrangements go, its girls in one bed, boys in the other. Getting a two bedroom suite usually ends up being too much money. Sleeping conditions are less than ideal, but renting one room is just more affordable.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Shannon,
      Do hotels let you check in as five or do you slip one kid under the radar? No judgement, just curious, as I wasn’t even able to get rooms for four in much of Europe and South America.

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