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Hotel Cribs vs Portable Travel Cribs: What to Consider

Traveling with a baby usually involves a crib. Many people opt to bring their portable travel crib or pack and play, but considering that most airlines only allow you to bring 2 baby items for free, it might cost you extra. Not to mention that with a lot of luggage, you simply might not fit into a taxi or rental car upon arrival at your destination.

The good news is that many hotels provide cribs. The bad news is that many people online will try to scare you into not using them.

We’ve traveled with our kids even since they were infants. One can say that we traveled with day from day one considering that they were both born abroad and we stayed at AirBnB. My kids have taken 100+ trips since birth and we tested every possibility of what’s better: hotel crib vs portable travel crib.

How to Know If a Hotel Provides a Crib?

If a hotel or AirBnB offers baby items they will list it on their site usually. In some instances, they might forget to list them, but 99% of hotels have hotel cribs. Trust me, even a hotel at one of the most remote islands in the Pacific provided us with a crib and car seat.

We have never had any issues getting hotel cribs at the larger hotels. Even when we missed our flight and had to spend the night at a crappy airport hotel in Newark we had to book last minute, the hotel staff quickly proposed a crib for us.

When reserving a hotel online through either the hotel’s website or a reservation site like Booking.com make a note in the “special requests” field that you would like a baby crib in your hotel room.

Our hotel crib in Bora Bora

Does a Hotel Crib Cost Extra?

Technically, a crib doesn’t cost extra like an extra bed would. A baby in your room doesn’t cost extra, BUT there’s a tricky and important part…

A lot of hotels, especially in Europe but also had these issues in French Polynesia, Dubai and Maldives already, have imposed occupancy limits per room. It has nothing to do with the space for a crib or your own travel bassinet. It means that even if your baby is a month old, sleeps in your bed, and obviously doesn’t even eat yet it counts as a person and therefore you cannot stay in a double room with max. occupancy of 2.

It gets even more annoying with multiple kids, because quite often we were forced to book a suite or interconnecting rooms when we didn’t need it at all, and money aside we didn’t even want to.

That means that you can’t even stay in some boutique hotels in Paris or certain overwater villas in the Maldives or Tahiti. If you omit the fact that you have a baby with you and show up, you might be forced to upgrade your room upon availability or left unable to check-in as many hotels cannot risk getting fined by cities imposing these limits.

I always thought that we could just risk it and did in Moorea when our baby was barely 6 months old. We had no issues and the nice check-in lady let it slide, but met another family who tried to do the same and checked-in a day earlier and they were hit with a $500 fee per day for an extra person since they didn’t want a different type of room.

Hotel crib in our suite in Paris

Advantage of Hotel Cribs vs Portable Travel Cribs

When checking in, ask if the crib is already in your room, and most likely it will be. However, if it’s not just remind the staff to send it right away.

We surely traveled with our Guava Lotus a few times, but to be honest there were several instances when we didn’t even take it out of the car on road trips.

After a long day of traveling and doing stuff, the last thing you want to do is to start setting up a crib and potentially do the same thing again in the morning. Especially when you don’t have to do it – hotel cribs can be waiting for you upon arrival ready to go and you can relax, play with your kids, or take a shower yourself.

That’s on top of the fact that most airlines allow you to check a maximum of 2 baby items, and if you already have a travel stroller and car seat, you might need to pay extra to fly with your baby travel bed.

Uppababy vista bassinet
Traveling with a stroller bassinet

Do You Even Need a Baby Crib?

If you’re ready to yell at me that cosleeping with a baby is unsafe, hold on a second because this is not what I’m about to suggest.

When my first son was a newborn we had no idea what a travel crib even was, but we had to figure out a solution on how to make him sleep safely at our AirBnB which didn’t provide any cribs and even if it did, it would have to stay in a living room which wasn’t an option.

This is how I discovered that we didn’t need a crib at all, because our stroller doubled as a crib! In the US most Americans stuff their newborns into travel systems, which is a car seat on top of the stroller until they’re ready for a toddler seat. This is considered weird and unsafe anywhere else in the world, as babies shouldn’t be sleeping in car seats or even spend extensive periods in them outside of the car. Hence why everyone else uses lay-flat bassinets on top of the strollers for the first 6 months of the baby’s life.

Some stroller bassinets are approved for overnight sleep and some even come with stands that you can buy to make it a bedside bassinet.

If your baby is small you can simply roll your stroller into the room and let the baby sleep in it safely and in a known environment. Strollers that offer bassinets approved for overnight sleeping are Uppababy Vista and Inglesina Electa, the latter being much better for travel.

Once your baby becomes a toddler, according to Montessori guidance, can use a floor bed and be moved out of the crib.

In a hotel, the space might not always be there for a separate toddler travel bed, so our personal favorite item for a toddler was packing an inflatable bed rail. It packs tiny and that way my toddler could safely sleep on an extra bed or sofa bed from 13 months onwards without issues.

Bed rails at our apartment rental in France

What Type of Crib Hotels Offer?

Obviously, if you stay at luxury resorts or places like kinderhotels, the cribs you get will be luxurious. In most hotels outside of the US you will usually get a regular metal or wooden crib with blankets, baby pillows, and potentially even a toy for a baby.

Kids do sleep with blankets and pillows in other parts of the world, so it’s not considered weird. In the US it’s considered a sleeping hazard and babies sleep with nothing, so if you’re uncomfortable just remove the bedding from the crib.

In smaller hotels you might get a pack and play. I noticed that in the US or UK quite often hotel cribs don’t come with any bedding, so you might want to have a spare one. Since cribs are different sizes and types I recommend actually getting a bamboo changing pad cover (for example this one) as it’s stretchy enough to fit bigger cribs, but won’t be too loose on smaller pack and plays.

On cruises, unless you booked a suite you don’t want to bring your crib as it simply won’t fit. Cruise lines offer only mini cribs, which my son at 12 months naturally didn’t fit and it also blocked everyone’s way to a bed and siblings way up the bunk bed. There was no choice other than co-sleeping.

Mini crib on our cruise that we had to asked to be taken away

Are Hotel Cribs Safe?

It doesn’t take much to know whether a crib or hotel pack and play is safe. If it’s wobbly, things don’t fit or got replaced then it might not be safe. These situations are however extremely rare.

I only encountered one unsafe hotel pack-and-play that wouldn’t lock in place. There was no drama though as some people make it seem. We reported the issue and the housekeeper went to check for more cribs. He found a different crib and it was rolled to our room 10 minutes later.

hotel cribs

What to Do If There Are No Hotel Cribs Available?

Honestly, this never happened to me and we travel a lot. However, if there are no cribs suddenly then you can always get a spare rollaway bed and put it on the floor.

Alternatively, there’s a rental company called Baby Quip that offers services everywhere. You can be ass

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