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Recently, when booking a trip, I discovered that if I included my infant when making a reservation the price was often as much as $100 more per night. When I confronted the hotel about this (we were either going to have the baby sleep with us in the King bed or bring our own travel bed), I got a load of garbage ranging from "Fire Marshal" requirements, to needing a larger room, to "I can't input it into the system". In short, it's the hotels grabbing at some extra cash as far as I can tell (though if any of you parents are in the hotel industry and care to elucidate me, I'm always eager to learn).

So, I'm looking for your own experiences: do you declare your baby when booking a hotel and take the hit, or do you just book for the couple, and try not to wave the baby in the face of the receptionist at check-in and check-out?

Note: this question is specific to infants and toddlers that don't need a third bed.

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Thanks for the edit, Torben –  Tom Auger May 26 '11 at 20:35

7 Answers 7

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Personally, we always state up-front that we are bringing an infant even if the hotel doesn't explicitly offer any baby services and does not charge extra. I'd rather be open about it than having to justify "baby smuggling" later on.

Of course we sometimes learn during booking that the rate increase is ridiculous, and then we simply don't complete the booking, and look for better alternatives. We've not yet been in a situation where we had to book a certain place.

On the other hand, sometimes significant fees for infants are actually worth it; I've seen hotel and resort offers where everything you'd need for the baby is included, from bibs and baby food, over high-chairs and cribs, to wireless long-range baby monitors and professional babysitting. In some of these cases, this would actually be cheaper than arranging it on your own.
Except diapers and baby wipes. We had to bring our own. Not a problem though.

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+1 for being honest :) And, wow - I would certainly pay extra if there are additional amenities specifically for the baby. So far, (and my experience is limited, admittedly) there have been no additional services, just vague claims that a 2-person room is not suitable to 2 people + 1 baby. –  Tom Auger May 26 '11 at 20:37
    
Even if there is no rate increase, they may try to place you near other families, which may prevent altercations with neighbors. –  Peter DeWeese Jun 22 '11 at 15:34

You need to declare the child so that it is

i: covered by insurance in the case of catastrophe

ii: known about by fire responders in the case of fire emergency

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Good info, thanks for the perspective. I'd be very curious to know, in an emergency situation, the number of establishments that proactively provide this information to early responders and have the training to have this make a difference. –  Tom Auger Jun 30 at 18:36

I work at a hotel and we have the option of charging for things like rollaways and pack and plays. I feel that it is EXTREMELY unethical and very discriminatory to charge extra for having an infant. I suggest not staying at hotels of that caliber.

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Thanks for sharing your perspective! –  Tom Auger Jun 28 at 5:28

When booking online, I indicate that I'll be bringing a child in the comments field. Those will generally be ignored until I'm at the hotel and then they can't tell me I didn't warn them.

If you're booking by phone, ask for the rate first, make your reservation and when done, inform them that you'll have a small child but don't require extra equipment. If they want you to shell an extra, just cancel the booking.

I've never had any problem with this. Often, they're moving us to a larger room at no extra charge.

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Thanks for this suggestion, Eric. I like that approach, as long as one is willing to walk. –  Tom Auger Jun 22 '11 at 14:31

I wouldn't book someplace that was THAT child-unfriendly if at all possible. If it's not possible, I'd call the hotel and ask what is justified by the charge, and make the determination from there. I don't think you need to smuggle the baby in like contraband if you don't declare him/her, and if asked I'd just say you didn't think the issue was worth mentioning since you're bringing your own stuff for the baby. I've found that most low-level hotel desk clerks are very amenable once you're there, even if they might be pickier about the rules when you call.

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This is a good point - booking online actually has its disadvantages! –  Tom Auger Jun 22 '11 at 14:31

When we've booked our hotels, we just specify us two as adults. If they have a dropdown for infants, then we specify. We don't normally include ours as a child unless they specifically say (0-12) years old.

We don't make an effort to hide the baby. I carry her around in the stroller, all the way to the receptionist. They've never said anything to us or charged us extra. We never required cribs, etc. We do ask for extra blankets though.

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Thanks for the answer. The problem I encountered (especially online bookings) was that even if the dropdown allowed you to specify 0 years or <1 year old the price still jumped up. I'm still trying to understand what legitimate reason they might have that could justify this! –  Tom Auger May 26 '11 at 20:39

Unless I need something special for the infant, and we have always brought our own materials for sleeping arrangements and strollers and such, usually I just say child. I don't recall getting asked for an age, its been awhile since I've done this though. Usually you do get some additions in hotels, free meals and such, so it's good to have the children on the bill so you get the amenities. If you are not going to use them, then I've done baby smuggling from time to time, mostly because my wife doesn't like to pay for amenities we will never use. I understand the hotels have to make money, and I do put the kids on when I can, but I also don't agree with the excess charges for vague items that we'd never use.

At least I put on child, knowing I may never use my infants breakfast buffet, so I hope the karma evens out.

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