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A tea drawer

There was one night in London where we couldn’t get a room at Premier Inn. So we stayed at the Holiday Inn King’s Cross/Bloomsbury.

It was good – two double beds – and check this out. I opened up one of the drawers that appear to be a desk and …. TEA DRAWER!

A tea drawer

(Note, I did make the tea that is in there. I didn’t open the drawer to find two hot cups of tea!)

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Why Premier Inn is the hotel destination for families

When we visit London, we stay at the Premier Inn, which remains our go-to hotel.

For some reason, it is just hard to get a room in London for a family of four. Seriously. Either their rooms do not have the capacity for four people or they are quite expensive. It’s almost like an outlandish request if you want to stay together in one room, with your two small children.

But not at Premier Inn. We get the family room and they provide a double (which is basically an American queen) bed for us and two cots for the kids all in the same room for about £120/night. We stayed at one in London Southwark near the Tate Modern, and tried another one near King’s Cross. Both were ridiculously quiet, efficient, clean and consistent.

Even the check-in process is streamlined so you can use a glorified vending machine to get your keys. I’ve never seen anything like it in the U.S.

Plus, kids get a free hot buffet breakfast the next morning (and about £10.50 per adult). We ordered it every morning that we stayed at a Premier Inn because it’s just easier with small kids to be able to get breakfast quickly and taken care of – but the spread was very traditional, with fried eggs, British bacon (boo!), black pudding (double boo!), tomato, beans, croissants (plain, chocolate and almond varieties, yay!), cereal, fresh fruit, toast, crumpets, pancakes, coffee, tea. You name it! It was a smorgasbord of great options! Better than any Embassy Suites breakfast and I don’t say that lightly!

(Note: I am not being paid to say any of these lovely things about Premier Inn. But they really are awesome.)

Premier Inn check in


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The trouble with booking a British hotel room

Premier Inn

Premier Inn

I’ve been investigating hotels in the U.K. for our upcoming trip. Sounds simple, right?

I assumed my biggest challenge would be finding a room available, and maybe finding something in my price range (after all, the current exchange rate is 1.49, which means that a gorgeous room at the Savoy for £330 pounds converts to $494 and is decidedly out of our price range). And so it goes …

But no. The real challenge has been finding  a hotel willing to accommodate a family of four. I’ve discovered that many nice hotels have a person limit and two adults and two children exceed capacity, unless you’d like to book a second adjoining room. I’ve realized that I’ve taken for granted the all-suite family hotel options that are a dime-a-dozen in the U.S. (with Embassy Suites being my #1 pick, particularly when Manager’s Reception comes around) but really it’s a concept that is sorely lacking in the U.K.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t any “family rooms” available in the U.K. Some are available for a steep price. Others seem to get booked up months in advance. But thankfully I have tracked down larger family rooms with the Premier Inn hotel group, which have worked well for our needs. It’s still one big room (usually two double beds and a sofa bed, along with the option of adding a crib) instead of the suite-style option so it isn’t perfect, but we stayed at a Premier Inn near Heathrow Airport at our last visit in 2010 and it was very easy to book a family room for four (at a very good rate of under £200, as well). I’ve also read good things about Base2Stay, which has locations in Liverpool and Kensington. And of course, there’s always Airbnb.com, HomeAway.com and any of the other vacation rental sites if you’re looking for some extra space.

Do you know of a good family-friendly hotel in the U.K.? Please share!