1019tree
Belize was more magical because we stayed in the treetops!

We’ve stayed in hotels, houses, apartments…even a houseboat! I think that the kind of place you stay really effects how you feel about the vacation.

1019hotel
It really doesn’t get any better than the Riverside Motel in Ogunquit, Maine.

Hotels

I think this is the default vacation lodging choice. There are six of us and my husband does NOT like to be packed in, so fairly quickly we started getting at least two rooms when we travel. And yes, we put all the kids in one room while we stayed in the other. When they were especially small we went with suites or hotels like a Residence Inn. The kitchen there was a lot less important than having room for my early bird sleepers to go to sleep while my husband and I enjoyed staying up, watching a little television (we’ve never had a TV in the bedroom so this is a treat for us!), even enjoying room service.

We like hotels when we know we are going to be out a lot during the day, spending time together virtually all day long. I’m pretty realistic about all of our need to be alone at times on the vacation. Staying realistic about these needs is one of the ideas that keeps us from melting down over too much together time!

A close cousin to hotels are small inns and B&Bs. We didn’t try these until the kids were older, and I’m glad. It seems like noise travels a little easier in places like this, especially older buildings, and it is really hard to for me to relax when I was worried that my kids were bothering other people.

1019paris
This was our view in Paris, honest to goodness. You can see the interior wall reflected in the window.

Apartments

While we haven’t tried AirBnB yet, we have rented apartments. The advantage over hotels is that you have a living room–together time! We love apartments in cities. One of my favorite memories is renting a lovely apartment in Paris when we were there for Bill’s work. Having a kitchen allowed us to take advantage of the markets and eat at home, on our own schedule. We also had laundry facilities and separate bedrooms. I’ve always loved having a table to gather around, and I love not having to eat every single meal in a restaurant!

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“Our home” in Notting Hill for a week. It was built in 1850, so just getting to live with the architectural details was fun.

Houses

This is one of our favorite ways to stay now when we are in the country somewhere. A house gives you a yard or garden, sometimes a pool, and tons of room inside and outside to spread out. Kitchens are typically well equipped. We tend to enjoy the isolation of a house compared to a condo, too. In particular, houses are great where there is a lot of “gear,” whether at the beach or ski slope.  Here’s some insight into the way we go:  we usually rent a house when we ski, but last year we got a condo. The difference was remarkable–I think we are messy because it was really hard for us to put all of our gear away in the little hall closet every night. We prefer to just spread it all out and be kind of messy. So we have already reserved a house again for this year.

The other advantage of houses and apartments is that you get a better feeling of being native, even if only for a week. We rented a house in Tuscany this summer, and we all felt like the villa was our “home” in a completely different way than our Roman hotel felt like “home base.” Somehow a house lets the place get into your bones, and that is one of the feelings I’m after when we travel together.

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On the plus side, the houseboat established a baseline against which all other lodging choices are judged and found to be great.

Other ideas

We stayed in a houseboat in Boston Harbor, which has led to lots of discussions about what we don’t like! It was…interesting, but we aren’t going to do that again. We’ve stayed in treehouses in Belize, too, which were amazing, but so far from each other (we had to have two because there were so many of us) that it was hard to get lots of family time there. We hung out on the beach instead. We’ve never stayed in tents and we’ve never rented an RV, which are both very high on my list to try out! I’m hoping we’ll get to stay on a small boat, too, as opposed to a moored houseboat or a cruise ship.

The point is that now I choose that kind of place that we stay in an intentional way. If I have several days and want to feel native, I’m going to look for an apartment or house. If I know we are playing hard at the beach or slope, with lots of gear, we are going to want a place to rest together–again, a house. When we are away for an event or if we know that we are in for lots of sightseeing, I don’t mind using a hotel. That lets us focus on the world outside our hotel, and we aren’t really tempted to just hang out inside.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever stayed? What’s the strangest KIND of place you’ve ever laid your head?