Children not welcome here

Back in the days before kids, I remember one Christmas where our whole family was going away for the holidays together.  The inn where we were staying generally had a “no kids” policy, which they were willing to bend for us because we were renting out two entire guest houses (over 50% of the whole property) but they initially said that my little sister, who was probably about 3 at the time, wouldn’t be able to join us for breakfast in the main dining room.  I thought that was taking a policy a little too far, but, at the time, it didn’t really phase me.  I advocated for staying there anyway, and “working something out”, which in the end, didn’t have to happen because they ended up relaxing their policy and letting us all eat together in the dining room.

In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking.  It’s fine for hotels to have a “no children” policy (although I think it’s a foolish stance) but really, if they were making it clear that our family wasn’t going to be comfortably accommodated in their establishment, we should have made arrangements to stay elsewhere.  (As it was, we had a lovely holiday, kids and all.)

We’ve occasionally run in to similar hotel policies as we plan our various trips around Europe.  It seems to happen in specific communities, where, I suppose, most of the clientele is seeking a quiet weekend away.  Most of the time, a hotel will state very clearly on their website (or third party booking site) that children under whatever age aren’t permitted.  I don’t really get it.  I know, kids can be messy, and sometimes a little destructive, and sometimes make noise late at night, but so can many adults.  I’d imagine that restricting the ages of your guests would probably do more to turn business away than to attract customers.  I suspect there are more families looking for a fun weekend away than there are fuddy duddies thinking, “Oh, if they allow kids then we CAN’T stay there!”  Of course, every time we see such a policy, we choose another place to stay, and I always make sure when I’m booking a room to make sure I specify the ages of our children, rather than just saying “we have 2 kids”, just to be clear.  And although I don’t agree with their policies, it’s their place to rent as they see fit, and if they don’t want kids, then we certainly don’t want to stay there.

But the ones that really get under my skin are the ones that *don’t* come right out and state that children aren’t welcome.  They’re the ones that will list, in detail, every amenity (including a list of languages the owner speaks fluently) and every other restriction possible (no pets, no smoking, no stays less than 2 nights on a holiday weekend, no American Express) but won’t say a thing about children.  Then you email them, or you make an online reservation, and the excuses start.

We’ve starting looking for places to stay for our next trip (to Germany) and after enquiring about an apartment the other day, I got an email back which included this:

“I am very sorry to let you know that our apartments are not designed/safe for young children (e.g. lots of low-lying sockets). We therefore also neither offer cots nor high chairs.”

Really?  Your place isn’t suitable for children because of low-lying sockets?!?  You know, my kids have managed low-lying sockets on two continents and in at least 5 countries and never had an issue.  And, thank you very much, we didn’t ask for a baby cot or a high chair.  But, I get the message — you don’t want kids (at least not kids as young as mine) staying at your place.  (This place even lists a “playground” and a “zoo” as nearby attractions on their online listing.  Who is that intended for?)

It’s not that big of a deal.  Truly.  But there’s something that gets under my skin about their failure to own their policy and opinion.  I know it’s common to see people who won’t own up to a potentially unpopular opinion, so they pretend not to have one while creating roadblocks to other options and making feeble excuses as to why things ought to go a particular way.  (I know several people like this, and it can come up with things as simple about what kind of pizza we’re ordering for dinner.  It’s enough to make me crazy until I figure out they’re pushing an agenda that they just don’t want to share with everyone else.)  I wish they’d just state how they felt.  There’s something extra galling about turning someone away, and somehow justifying it as their fault, rather than admitting you just don’t want them.

I’d never make my kids stay somewhere that I felt they weren’t warmly welcomed, so we found another place to stay.  But we love to find great places, share them with our friends, and then return in the future.  These unfriendly places are the ones that are missing out.

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