Back in 2015 when my kids were on the cusp of being teens, and we started our international travels, we opted for for an apartment in Madrid, which was amazing by the way. (It’s here.) It did not disappoint. But apartments can be hit or miss so it’s important to research thoroughly before you go and review all the reviews.
Hotel vs. Apartment: What to Consider
Having just had this conversation several times in the past few weeks, I was under the impression most families traveling with teens rented apartments, but was surprised to learn how many prefer hotels. With my kids now bigger than the adults, we simply cannot squeeze our family of four into one “Euro-sized” hotel room. Too many suitcases and too many opinions.
1. Your Teens Gender & Personality
I have a teenage boy and girl, and they no longer want (or really should) sleep in the same bed. So we need separate beds. My son cannot stand to hear his sister snore so he’ll happily sleep on the pull-off sofa that most apartments include. If no sleeper sofa, he’ll camp out on the sofa to ensure some space and quiet.
2. Your Own Family Dynamics
We are a pretty close family. We love to hang out together. But after spending a full day of touring and togetherness, everyone needs space. My husband likes to sit quietly with a book in order to recharge for the next day. My kids like to watch TV and never the same thing. We have all squished into family hotel rooms before, and it leads to arguing and us adults trying to find other places to escape to in the lobby, which is OK for a night or two.
As we plan for an upcoming trip to Paris, I did some comparison between a two-bedroom, two- bath apartment in Paris. I found a few hotels similar in price to our apartment, but we’d have to get the smallest rooms to make it equal out. With the apartment, we have the extra living room, dining room, and kitchen that give us room to spread out.
It also depends on where you are staying. Researching little towns in Bavaria, two hotel rooms were similar in price and came with free breakfast and sometimes parking.
Having breakfast before we head out for the day (even just coffee, juice, bread, cheese, and a hard-boiled egg) get us out the door quickly and cheaply. Eating out is certainly fun and we do our fair share of eating while on vacation, breakfast is a meal I am willing to forgo in a cafe to save €30 to €40.
4. Trading It In: Housekeeping for the Washer/Dryer
Hotel life is good. Every day you leave and every day you come back with perfectly-made beds and a clean bathroom. We certainly don’t do chores while we’re on vacation, but pulling up a duvet cover or washing a few glasses doesn’t bother me. I am willing to accept the disorder for a few days….and enlist my kids to help tidy up a bit each day. After all, we’re only working with a small suitcase of belongings.
Having a washer/dryer has been a nice to have many times and allows the freedom to pack light. With each trip we get better about how to pack, so we rarely need the washer/dryer, but it is very nice to know it’s available, especially in the warmer weather.