With flights secured to Italy in April, I set out to find some family friendly hotels in Europe bookable with points.
Our inbound flight lands in London, and we’re flying out of Rome so I had some flexibility with the itinerary between those two endpoints. I talked it over with the family (our boys will be 14 and 11 for this trip) and there was enthusiasm for cities on this visit. So we settled spending time in London, Venice, and Rome.
The challenges I’ve found with lodging in those cities are:
- Finding single rooms that accommodate 4 people
- Especially loyalty hotels where standard rooms (or even suites) only accomodate 2 or 3 people
- Which makes leveraging hotel status difficult
Since we’ll be spending just 2-3 nights in each city it also makes AirBnB-type alternatives less appealing to me. Check-in “friction” for late night arrivals and cleaning fees make alternative lodging solutions even less appealing to me than usual. I totally respect that some people love AirBnB especially for families, but I’m just not a fan.
So I set out to find some good lodging options in each city, with eye towards using Bank Points to fund them.
My first thought in London was The Savoy, but then I realized that was a Fairmont property and sadly the Chase Fairmont card (and its free night certificates) have gone by the wayside.
My next thought was a Hilton property like a Conrad or a Waldorf Astoria but all of those properties seemed to have difficulties with 4 people in a room.
My next thought after that was a Hyatt property to leverage Globalist status. The Hyatt Regency Churchill but that too had issues with 4 people in a room. The only room that accomodates 4 people is the Royal Suite that goes for $2,000+ a night and can’t be booked with points. Finally, I checked out the Hyatt SLH properties (what are those?). Same thing: 4 people in a room was a non-starter, and those properties weren’t a good cent-per-point value anyway.
I asked a friend who travels to London frequently what her favorite property was and she said the Rosewood London.
Rosewood is a luxury brand that seems to keep coming up in my searches. Honeymoon spots like the Rosewood Mayakoba and Rosewood Bermuda.
I did a search on their site, expecting to see the same trend observed at “loyalty hotels” where I couldn’t get 4 people in a room. Fortunately they offer a Family Room that accommodates 4 people.
I first checked prices directly on the hotel’s site. They showed a rate of $887/nt for their Family Room – smallest room that accommodated 4 people.
When I checked the same room and dates on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal the same room was available for $664/nt. Even better than booking direct, and I could pay for it with Ultimate Rewards with 1.5 cpp uplift. Booked it. Nice deal.
Check ’em out:
My first inclination for lodging in Venice is the JW Marriott with its bi-level La Maisonette Loft Suite. And although that property is a 50,000 point/nt Marriott property and accommodates a family of 4, they tack on all kinds of additional charges for children in the room to the point where it hardly made sense to use points.
My next inclination was a luxury property like the Belmond Hotel Cipriani or the Aman Venice. But both of those were ridiculously expensive – and we’d need two rooms even if we booked a suite.
So I sought out something more family friendly in the heart of Venice and found the Hotel Flora.
Booking a refundable “quadruple” room directly on their site that accommodated 4 people came in at $729 for two nights: $364.50/nt.
It was a little difficult to match up precisely on the Chase portal, but the most affordable quadruple room on the Chase portal was $336.80/nt. My primary concern was a room that accommodates 4 in a central Venice location with good reviews. So, another situation where the Chase Expedia portal was [a little] cheaper than booking direct.
Check ’em out:
One of my favorite all-time boutique hotel stays was at the Hotel Dei Mellini in Rome. We stayed there back in the day before kids, and before we knew anything about points & miles, and had an absolutely terrific stay. At every turn the hotel seemed to provide the exact kind of intuitive hospitality we were looking for.
They too had a family room that accommodates 4. It includes free breakfast makes me think: What’s the point of chasing hotel status when you can book a great hotel room that accommodates the whole family and has free breakfast and WiFi? Be Your Owe Elite!
The family room on Hotel Dei Mellini’s site goes for $385/nt.
Yet again, the Chase Expedia portal prices out slightly less at $365/nt for the exact same room.
Check ’em out:
I was thrilled to find that each of these hotels were not only available on the Chase Expedia portal, but they were available at good prices compared to booking direct.
I chose exactly the hotel I wanted to stay at in each city rather than shaping my tip around loyalty hotel chains. I’ve got a hotel in the exact location I’d like to be in each city, with just the room I want, free WiFI and free breakfast and 2 out of 3 properties. As much as I like a complimentary gonzo upgrade feels good to break free from the constraints of hotel elite status.
Each of the rooms has favorable cancellation terms so I’m free to improve my situation if something better pops up. So if you have a favorite hotel in one of these cities you think I should check out I’m all ears. Let me know?
Wow, the London room is expensive at almost twice the price of the others,?
Wow. You like to give your family first-class travel! We stayed there back when it was a Renaissance, and it was definitely a splurge for us…we did it on certificates, IIRC. I recall the breakfast place nearby (probably Costa Coffee, haha–they are everywhere) as being the reasonable alternative to the hotel breakfast prices. I hope you dont have a late arrival, so that you can spend some time to enjoy the place. In any case, it’s just off the Picadilly line, so it’s an easy transfer from LHR.
But 3 great cities in one week? It seems to me that you will be spending loads of time simply transiting. To put it in perspective, didn’t you spend about a week *in Disneyworld alone* last year?
I’m always curious about how people decide on where they want to travel and what’s important to them in terms of what they want to accomplish (in addition to the how they do it on points, of course!). Is this to be a (whirlwind) intro for the kids to European culture?
Anyway you look at it, the kids will have a fantastic trip!
Thanks for the tip on the breakfast place near the Rosewood. That could come in handy if the hotel prices are indefensible.
We did 3 nights at Disneyland, but yeah – it is a lot of transit.
We’ll let you know how it goes.
Robert, good approach and good write up. I appreciate the specific hotel recommendations as well.
interesting read. I hope the London hotel is very good- you are certainly paying well for it – even with bank points helping out.
One way I looked at it was that 2 rooms at the Hyatt Regency would be 50,000 Hyatt points/Ultimate Rewards.
This was only 44,000. Bargain! 😉
Continue to think you’re nuts for disregarding AirBnb and the like for family trips. At least for London (where I have experience booking them), could get an centrally-located 2BR place for half the price and twice the space. That’s worth a _little_ bit of check-in friction, IMO.
As part of a family of four with two young children, I have tried out several London hotel options. The selection of Park Plaza and Novotel hotels in Central London have good locations and accommodate four people in one room, albeit with a roll-away bed, which may not be ideal in your situation. I have booked them inexpensively using UR points on the Chase portal. My preferred option has been booking an executive king room at the Hilton Tower Bridge with UR points on the Chase points, when the rates have been fairly reasonable. The hotel typically recognizes Diamond status even for third-party reservations (e.g., one is entitled breakfast at the restaurant), though access to lounge is guaranteed through the room type anyway. Another example of being one’s own elite. This concept is especially relevant for family travel, when more flexibility is needed for rooms and travel arrangements.
In my view the 1.5 Chase Sapphire Reserve uplift is the single most helpful perk for family travel. Notwithstanding bloggers’ guidance to the contrary regarding point valuations, I happily use the perk not just for hotels and airfare, but also travel activities through the Chase portal. Paying $30/person for London attractions (such as London Eye etc.) isn’t appealing to me, so I just use UR points that are comically easily to accumulate, through the Chase portal.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Stephen. There’s lots of useful information here for myself and others.
Particularly, the general bit about Diamond status being recognized at certain hotels through UR bookings.
And the specific hotel recommendations in this instance.
Europe and their room size/occupancy restrictions drive me insane. We are driving through Croatia/Bosnia/Slovenia, already not a lot of chain hotels, I saw that Marriott had a new hotel opening in Mostar in the spring, figured they’d have at least a midrange room with space for 4, nope just the presidential suite. So frustrating.
That’s pretty much what I was seeing for the Hyatt Regency Churchill. Presidential-esque Suite to get 4 people in the room.
If you booked with the Chase version of FHR, would you still get the 1.5 cents/point? I’m not sure it would work with quad occupancy, but if it did, you might gain some substantial additional benefits.
Ooo – I really like this idea.
Unfortunately, I don’t see a way to pay with points when booking through Chase Luxury Hotels & Resorts Collection. You have to pay with your Chase card.
SImilarly, I *think* it’s a requirement for the City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite card and its Visa Luxury Hotel Collection. Though, I’ll do some digging on that to see if it somehow *might* be possible to pay with points and enjoy the additional benefits.
Even if it’s not possible to stack the fancy hotel benefits on top of paying with URs, it does diminish the effective per-point value I’m getting – if I value the benefits I’d get by booking through another channel.
I’ll do some more research – thanks for the suggestion.
Why not, god forbid, book two rooms at one property?
Nice write up.
As a family of 4 who just started into points, I’ve been feeling the frustration of these hotels not having family rooms available.
I had been thinking to downgrade both our CSR but this is making me reconsider and to save one for the 1.5x.
I’ve never used the Chase travel portal yet.
To answer stvr – personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable with two rooms unless they were connecting.
Even then, I’m not a fan of that solution due to the increased costs.