Go on, bring the kids! These websites help parents find family-friendly lodgings in Western Europe.
My wife would love to bring our boys, ages 11 months and 3 years, to Europe. That is, until I remind her of how difficult the trip would be. The flight, of course, could be a nightmare. We're normally pretty exhausted chasing the kids around, and jet lag could push everybody over the edge. And then when we got to Spain or Italy or wherever, it would be tough for all of us to stay in a reasonably priced hotel room and actually get some sleep. Figuring out hotels that would be child-friendly is difficult in the U.S., let alone overseas.
Until now, that is. A couple of interesting new websites focus on family-friendly hotels and resorts in Europe.
CiaoBambino.com specializes in Italy, and also has some recommended properties in France and England. The site, run by a couple in California, lists everything that a mom would want to know -- not only if the place has cribs and highchairs, but also how level the grounds are around the hotel (if it's on a big hill, you'll never be able to put your toddler down), not only if there is a pool, but if there is a gate and a fence for the pool, and how high the fence is. The site also details activities in the area from horseback riding to cooking schools, and what ages the activities are right for.
BabyFriendlyBoltHoles.co.uk lists resorts, hotels, and self-catering cottages, mostly in the U.K., and with a handful of properties in France, Greece, Italy, and Spain. Just about every property has kitchens and extra-big rooms that are perfect for families, and with one click parents will be able to find out if the property offers babysitting, tricycles, sandboxes, trampolines, and more. Of course, you'd be able to find all of these details by hunting on your own (and perhaps e-mailing the owners with your questions), but it sure is nice to have someone else do the homework for you. And while I can't exactly say I'm ready to bring our two sons to Europe just yet, I'm certainly closer than I was before checking out these sites. If you know of similar family-friendly resources for Europe or anywhere else, let us know.