Family of 5: Some Hotels are Right for You!

Portland hotel Family of 5.

Hotel for Family of 5In July, the Washington Post carried an article by Christopher Elliott, of  The article precisely pertains to our Sleeps5 mission of helping families find a hotel room for their family of 5.  The title?  Outwitting Hotels’ Maximum Occupancy Rules.  Mr. Elliott describes a common scenario — to save money and decrease hassle, parents do not reveal the children they bring to hotel rooms.  But the article also includes hotel staff reports of discovering the customer fraud (my term) and charging the family.

Cannot Tell a Lie?
At Sleeps5, we advocate booking a room with honesty.  It’s the way I prefer to operate, partly because 1.) I’m a natural-born rule-keeper, with an overactive conscience, worried about offending anyone, incapable of cheating, 2.) I’d be scared of getting caught and would fret all night over being charged extra or thrown out, and 3.) I completely sympathize with the hotel industry from a business point of view.

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Can’t or Won’t
Some hotels might like to be able to accommodate extra persons or beds in a room but will not because of their own safety concerns and/or cannot because of fire codes which require clear escape routes.  And some hotels don’t care to accommodate extra persons or beds in a room because it would disrupt the atmosphere fostered by the hotel, and potentially disturb nearby guests who are counting on a quiet, calm hotel experience.

Berlin hotel Family of 5

An example of a Family Room for 5 – Our Berlin hotel. (5th bed out of view on left).

Kids will be Kids
Even my (mostly!) oh-so-well-behaved boys can exhibit occasional ‘horseplay’ with punches to a brother’s arm, or bickering over a remote control, or just excitable conversing.  (See a previous post: Travel with 3 Boys: Incentive to Behave) With two parents and three kids, though we work very hard to be, perhaps we are not as much in control of their behavior as we could be with just one child — we not only have to contend with the irrational demands, jumping, tumbling, squeals, and crankiness of children, but we also have to contend with their interactions between each other.

Here Comes Trouble?

Furthermore, it feels like a crowd when we file through a lobby, or fill up an elevator. Even when our kids were little, it was noticeable how much space we occupied.  I felt conspicuous.  Seeing our brood from a bystander’s point of view, I can imagine thoughts of impending rowdiness, trouble, noise, and disorder.  If I were a hotel guest paying for a quiet room, and hoping for hallway neighbors who won’t infringe on others’ peace, I, too, would be alarmed and irritated at seeing or hearing a bunch of kids!

Portland hotel Family of 5.

An example of a standard Double room with Rollaway bed – Our room in Portland, OR.

Don’t Want to be Where We’re Not Welcome
A hotel’s ambiance is a selling point, and for the reasons above, I really can understand why some hotels choose not to pack a bunch of human beings in one room even if there were enough space.  Any hotel may charge more for extra persons, and some do, to account for the extra wear and tear, extra housekeeping, and extra water usage, but still, any hotel has every right to decline such a booking.

Peace of Mind with Hotels that Fit
I’m sure that some hotels probably choose to look the other way when a guest has obviously arranged for too many family members to sleep in a room.  But for above-board and guilt-free travel, we work hard (See How to Book (reserve) a Family Room) at Sleeps5 to find the hotels that:

1.) have ample space in one room to accommodate 5 or more and meet fire codes,
2.) have an atmosphere that isn’t diminished with the presence of families, and
3.) willingly prepare a room for a family of 5 (or more).

In these hotels, families spend much less money than it would cost to book two rooms or a large suite, sleep without anxiety about blocking emergency exits or being caught cheating the occupancy rules, and share the adventures of parenting and travel coordinating duties by remaining together.


Sandy Nielsen

Sleeps5 includes hotels in London, York, Windsor, Edinburgh, Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Salzburg, Vienna, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Athens, Corfu Town, Santorini, Billund, Copenhagen, New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, and more. We add new cities each year, and welcome tips and hotel listings from other families to include, and suggestions for new cities to research.


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