Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Seven Steps To Transform A Hotel Room Into A Family Room

Do you remember the days when you'd walk into a hotel room, kick your shoes off, unzip your suitcase and lie back on the bed with a big 'Aaaah'?

Yeah, my memories of those moments are getting a little hazy too.  These days I feel more like a health and safety officer as I enter any new abode.  Are there plug sockets just waiting for little fingers?  Will Mister Four decide to use the in-room phone as a radio for his firefighting games? (The answer is always yes).  And where on earth can I put the baby down safely for a few minutes?

It's all a matter of strategy and creative thinking.  So here are my seven tips for turning a hotel room into a family room.

1. A playmat for baby
Have you noticed that hotels are notorious for stuffing complimentary baby cots with superfluous bedding?  I've yet to meet a five month old who needs a full eiderdown and pillow for her naps (and don't get me started on the safety aspect).  But it isn't all wasted.  You can lay the excess bedding from the cot, as well as pointless throws from your bed on the floor to make a soft, padded playmat for your bouncing bundle.  Of course, lots of babies have sensitive skin (and plenty are also prone to projecting from both ends) so I always lay my own clean muslin over the top.  Put down a few toys and voila, baby has a play area.  And if you're really clever, you can place the whole setup in front of a full length mirror and chatty babies will have a ready-made playmate to share hours of fun with.

2. Older children's play area
This works best for boys but I know plenty of girls who'd like this too.  We have a small, lightweight mat with a road map on it.  We gather up a handful of matchbox cars and Mister Four has a little play space of his own that can be easily folded up at the end of the day.

3. Baby change station
A desk is the perfect height for this.  Just lay down a travel change mat, pull out a pack of wipes, a bag of nappies and a handful of nappy sacks.  We have a brilliant children's toiletries bag from Pumpkin Patch which makes a perfect place to stow baby's lotions and potions too and this sits on the desk top as well.  Much easier than constantly rummaging through a suitcase or removing mess from failed nappy changes on crisp white bed linen.

4. Step stool
There's nothing more frustrating for a newly-indepent small person than to have to ask mum or dad to lift him up to the sink.  But we've found that we can often use an (obviously empty) upturned wastepaper basket for this purpose.  Of course you'll want to make a call on how sturdy/safe the one in your room is, but failing that, a footstool will work nicely.  Is it just me or have you noticed too that hotels just love footstools?

5. Laundry room
If the bathtub has one of those pull out string washing lines you're in luck.  You can save $$ by bringing your own laundry powder and hand washing in the bathtub.  And if you don't have one of those fun strings?  You can hang wet clothes on coat hangers and decorate the bathroom with them.

For some reason it's so much more fun to do the laundry in a hotel room
6. Nappy bin
Maybe it's just me, but I can't stand seeing dirty nappies in open rubbish bins.  We get round this by converting the hotel's laundry bag into a nappy bag.  Dirty nappies go in nappy sacks and then straight into the laundry bag with the drawstring firmly tied.  Just don't leave it anywhere where a poor hotel staff member could end up carting it off to be washed...

7. Football stadium
Yes, I know.  Playing football around a hotel room isn't perhaps the brightest idea I've had.  But if your child has been cooped up inside for waaay too long and needs to burn up some energy, you can use a blow up beach ball for some indoor fun and squash it back down again when you're done.  Just make sure dad reins it in a bit and doesn't knock over a decorative vase or something.  (But then again, you've got kids.  You probably ID'd the vase and relocated it within the first three minutes of your stay).

Got any more suggestions?  Please share them here.

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