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family-unfriendly experiences

(43 Posts)
Sosijsmum Thu 26-Jun-03 17:57:02

Forgive me having a bit of a moan here. Am I overreacting? Have been trying to book a week's B&B in cornwall for me, dh and ds (19mo). Thought I'd found the perfect one last night and spoke to a v. helpful lady and promised to send a deposit. This morning she rang me back saying she'd discussed it with her dh and he felt it wouldnt be fair on the other guests to have a baby on the premises! She didnt even have the decency to lie and say there wasnt enough room for travel cot/ are double booked etc. What's more i rang 7 more places of which 5 said things along similar lines, including "We've got too many nick-nacks" to "I wouldn't be able to let out the adjacent room in case he's a cryer" and "He might try to climb out of the window." Now, I'm a reasonable person and I know that not everyone adores small children as much as I do, and also that there are lots of companies specialising in "child free" holidays, but when places advertise themselves as "family run" why do they have to be so anti family? What is the worst anti-family treatment you guys have come up against?

PS did eventually find a B&B who positively welcome chn, so holiday is on after all!

bossykate Thu 26-Jun-03 19:42:24

isn't that rubbish, sosijsmum? i always think, well i'll just have to spend my cash elsewhere then...

Linnet Fri 27-Jun-03 00:18:34

Whilst trying to a find a b&b for a weekend away for my dh and dd and myself I came across the same problem. A lot of B&B's won't take children under 10, I can understand that some of them may not want small babies because of crying or space restrictions but our daughter is nearly 6 and they still wouldn't take us. If they adervtise as family friendly then that should include children of all ages. It's really annoying and we had the same problem when trying to find a B&B in Canada, we ended up in a hotel there and had a great time anyway, we had looked at b&b's thinking they might have been cheaper but have to say the hotel was brilliant and when we go back in a few years time we plan on staying there again.
Britain tries to come across as a family friendly country but I don't neccassarily agree, when it comes to accommodation you have to pay for a child here but in a lot of other countries the child stays free if sharing a room with the parents, I think the holiday industry needs to take a long hard look at itself and maybe change some of it's procedures when it comes to families. And they wonder why people go abroad for holidays, I ask you.

SueW Fri 27-Jun-03 09:03:31

I spoke to a hotel owner recently. He gave me a lot of help on a project I was doing and said DH and I would have to try to make it to his place sometime but it would have to be when we could find an overnight babysitter for DD and would be a psecial occasion as they don't take children.

In fact, he said, they should probably say that they only take well-behaved parents. This isn't the first time I have heard this sentiment expressed by hoteliers. The AA hotel guide has an entire section devoted to examples of how badly parents have behaved e.g. one set who dosed their child with medicine to keep her quiet whilst they went out. She double-locked/bolted the door then fell asleep and the effects of the medicine started. She couldn't be roused by the phone or knocking. A window was then smashed by the parent to obtain access to the room and around £1000-worth damage caused which the parents refused to pay for. Why should the hotelier bear the cost of that?

I also disagree Linnet that you always have to pay for children in the UK. Many hotels charge a room charge only with children free up to a certain age. However the family hotels seem to be the worst with their charges being per person, which I don't like at all.

In the end, I think you have to take a view - if a hotel/B&B doesn't think you'd be happy there, they are probably right. I wouldn't have wanted to take DD anywhere with lots of knick-knacks when she was 19mo. Even non-lockable mini-bars with auto-charging facilities are bad enough, but at least if you take the entire contents down to reception, unopened, they'll credit them back!

ghengis Fri 27-Jun-03 09:12:37

Aaaaaagh! I cannot stand the fact that we have to apologise for having children in this country. Other people's intolerance just drives me mad.

We are going to Greece (again) this summer and I look forward to the fact that my children (2 and 11) are welcomed no matter where we go. Everyone makes a fuss of them and makes them feel special.

Here, if we are lucky, people 'tolerate' them but would rather they weren't there at all! There must be a newpaper article to be had from this topic!!!

princesspeahead Fri 27-Jun-03 09:49:27

SueW, along similar lines to what you were saying:

A few years ago we were trying to rent a villa in the West Indies with a 3 year old and 6 month old and had a very nice brochure to look at. Almost all of the villas said "no children except by prior arrangement". So we eventually phoned up the agency and they said "just let us know which one you'd like - what that really means is that the various owners won't take any american children - they are very happy with British ones because they know that british children are subject to some discipline and behave. American ones just run amok".

Well, I wasn't about to contradict her! And its true, we rented a villa no problem at all...

soothepoo Fri 27-Jun-03 10:07:08

What I find bizarre are places that say they welcome children, but then act as if they didn't exist. We recently stayed in a b & b where there was no towel for dd (nearly 3) and no place set for her at the breakfast table!

Lambchops Fri 27-Jun-03 10:12:24

I think I can give a little insight into why B+Bs maybe don't welcome children.
I ran a B+B for several years to allow me to stay at home when my kids were little. I only had about 2-3 months of the year to make decent money. The rest of the year the business just ticked over.
Small private B+Bs are only licenced and insured for 6 people in three double rooms, which would include a day old baby. Thus if I had parents with a child (whom I often didn't bother charging for), I had to leave one of my other rooms empty which meant a third less income for me.
So what did I do if 2 rooms are already occupied and a couple with a baby turn up on the doorstep? I have to turn them away.
On a positive note, we rarely had problems with babies or children....or at least nothing we couldn't cope with. But the biggest problem was caused by parents leaving smelly nappies in the bathroom.......the smell percolated through the whole house. They rarely took them out to the dustbin themselves because they obviously assumed that as they were paying, it was my job to remove them.

princesspeahead Fri 27-Jun-03 10:16:41

I must say if I'm staying in a hotel I assume it is the hotel's job to remove the nappies, not mine to root around outside looking for a bin! But I do use nappysacks...

Lambchops Fri 27-Jun-03 10:27:23

Sorry, princesspeahead, a private house B+B is very different from a hotel and does not provide the same service. My point exactly, if you want hotel service, go to a hotel and pay hotel prices. However when my children were in nappies, I never left a hotel chambermaid to dispose of our nappies and wouldn't expect them to. Similarly, in a hotel I would always clean my own families skid marks off a toilet, but often my guests did not afford me the same consideration.

princesspeahead Fri 27-Jun-03 10:36:18

It probably is different, I've never stayed in a B&B.
But I do expect hotel chambermaids to empty bins! What do you think they are there for?! (Both the bins and the chambermaids!)

Lambchops Fri 27-Jun-03 10:41:41

I was quite happy to empty the bins. I was talking about smelly nappies dumped in bathrooms in a private house. I serviced the rooms once a day after breakfast, if the nappies were left lying all that time they caused problems.

codswallop Fri 27-Jun-03 10:42:27

I nave never dared to go to a hotel with kids - oh apart from a travel lodge pre holiday flight..

princesspeahead Fri 27-Jun-03 10:57:50

Indubitably the more expensive the hotel, the better they are with children, treat them as though they are the most valued guests in the world.
I've had some of my best experiences of travelling with children in £500 per night boutique hotels where you'd think it would be a nightmare - in fact the staff spend the whole time, unasked, frantically booking trips to aquariums and sending up baskets of biscuits and fruit and disney videos (presumeably in the hope that if they keep the kids busy they'll have less time to inflict damage on the room!)

SueW Fri 27-Jun-03 11:44:38


We had some similar experiences. Whereas some family hotels insist on children dining alone and no children in the dining room after say 8pm, DD was welcome in the London MarriotT (County Hall) at the grand old age of 2 at 8pm and even had sausage, egg and tomato cooked especially for her.

At the Mandarin Oriental in KL, we asked if there were any restrictions on our dining with her and 'Absolutely not'. She wasn't allowed on the exec floor for drinks IIRC though. Never mind.

One thing that *really* bugs me is Britannia Airlines 'upgrade your package tour' option. Yes, you can upgrade to a better seat and go into the exec lounge but no children under 12 allowed in there. And this is an option they offer on family holidays. For goodness sake. DD has managed perfectly well in other airlines' business class lounges.

Ho hum. All a bit nostalgic now though since we haven't travelled like that for two years.

princesspeahead Fri 27-Jun-03 12:23:24

that is terrible re britannia lounge, SueW - don't know what we'd do without the virgin lounges at HR and GW, they are brilliant for children. lots of room to run around, good sandwiches etc to feed them before they get on the plane and even toys to play with...

Marina Fri 27-Jun-03 13:05:56

I think it was Linnet who said, and they wonder why we go abroad instead. Ds is a seasoned traveller in France where numerous types of hotel and chambre d'hote welcome us all. Our side of the bargain is we expect ds to behave as he would at home - not damaging anything, not making a racket when out in public, etc. When he was smaller this obviously sometimes involved one of us taking him out of dining rooms etc, but generally, at 4 he understands how to behave when staying at a hotel and enjoys the whole experience. The French are very hospitable towards children, in my experience. Our overnight stay at a four-star hotel near Legoland was a real eye-opener. Horrific food served to families at tea time (I bet the corporate guests weren't served this muck) and a whole embattled, Sod You attitude from the staff. We paid over £100 for that room...and were treated like rubbish.
I think it was very informative and helpful of Lambchops to share her B & B management experience. You tend to assume that all guests behave as well as you try to and it is easy to forget that guesthouse proprietors are often exposed to antisocial behaviour from the parents more than the children. I still find it very sad that you can buy a guidebook to the best B & Bs in the UK and find that almost all of them exclude children under 12. How do children learn to be good guests if they can't practise on their home turf?

WideWebWitch Fri 27-Jun-03 14:36:32

Isn't there an Egon Ronay guide to child friendly places? I have a 97 book called (IIRC) "and children come too" but it might just be restaurants though (prob is, come to think of it). Lampchops, that's interersting re the insurance and makes it a bit more understandable I think. I'd still have thought families are less likely to be badly behaved/get hammered and trash the room etc. Surely people like the drug woman mentioned are the exception? It annoys me too, my ds is perfectly capable of being well behaved and coming away with us and I don't like that familes often get substandard treatment a la Marina's experience.

tamum Fri 27-Jun-03 15:32:22

The AA have just brought one out recently- it's a bit scant on the details, but would at least serve as a starting place. It gives stuff like babylistening, children's menu and things which places are unlikely to offer if they're unwilling to take children (surely??)
It's here

Finbar Mon 30-Jun-03 13:03:43

Have ranted on another thread about this - but I can't believe that the same thing has happened to me as happened to Sosijsmum.

Booked a fab place to stay in scotland - self-catering and part of two properties in this converted Coac House building - in a wood - no-one else nearby...and they've rung and told us that they can't take children. Unfortunatley DH took the call and did not quiz them at length as to theri reasons - but I'm heartbroken.

Ther were no knick-knacks for my children to disturb , the grounds shared with the other let property were HUGE and now we're back to trawling thro' the Internet andthe Travel agents to find something for ourhols

princesspeahead Mon 30-Jun-03 13:06:23

finbar, isn't that completely ridiculous? really sorry to hear that. no practical help, though I'm afraid - sounds like the web and lots of phone calls to me

Finbar Mon 30-Jun-03 17:04:36

PPH thanks for your sympathy - it was such a lovely property as well -AND we'd just managed to wen my DD off the idea of going to France!

tamum Mon 30-Jun-03 17:19:43

Finbar, I don't know whether this would be any good at all to you (it won't be if you definitely want self-catering), but have you considered Polmaily House, near Loch Ness? It's a nice hotel and very child-friendly. Let me know if you want any more info.

lou33 Mon 30-Jun-03 18:43:07

Finbar I've just come back from a break in Wales I could really 100% recommend to you. In it's own grounds with no neighbours in sight. Three beds 2 bathroom, stairgates, cot, highchair if you want, and they have plastic plates for younger ones so teh good plates don't get smashed! Fully equipped kitchen too. If you are interested have a look here . The people who own it were lovely too.Hth.

Jimjams Mon 30-Jun-03 19:23:14

Just back from 2 weeks in France and have to say they really are great with kids- even stroppy 17 month olds who think they are 2 and even stroppier autistic 4 year olds. Although they thought being gluten free was mad (obviously) they were still happy to provide stuff for ds1. Had a great time.
In fact the first dirty look we got was from a british woman on the ferry home last night who appeared to be sucking lemons. My friends 2 year old ds was having a bit of a moan (nothing major) and dropped a chip, and my autistic 4 year old was breathing. Obviously this deserved dirty looks and glares all round. Oh how lovely to be home( she threw the chip back at the 2 year old by the way- charming huh).

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