We just finished a two week trip to the west coast–including San Francisco, Monterey and Napa, California and then Medford, Salem and Portland, Oregon. Aside from Portland where we stayed with family, we were on our own for lodging in the other places. With 2 little kids with early bedtimes, a mama (me!) with a middling bedtime and a hubby with a late bedtime, we need more than just one room! Not to mention the fact that DS1 (dear son age 1) wakes before the crack of dawn-way before DD3 (dear daughter age 3) and DH (dear husband) need to be up!
For San Francisco and Monterey we were staying 3 and 4 nights respectively and so picked homes through VRBO. It’s essentially vacation rentals, often by owner. We’ve used them for beach rentals before and a week long stay in Denver and so turned to them for lodging for this trip.
You put in your destination, parameters (number of bedrooms, dates, number of guests, price, etc) and search. You can view on a map to find a specific area and add additional parameters like family friendly, parking, etc. Each listing has photos, descriptions, and (hopefully) reviews. You can get a quote and then contact the owner with questions or to review the place. Sometimes you pay a deposit and then the balance later and sometimes you pay everything up front. This often depends on how far out you book.
VRBO charges a fee for booking through them and then most places charge a cleaning fee as well. This means that for one night (or two often) it is not very economical. Once you hit three nights it is often a better deal than hotels, especially for the space you get.
Both places we rented had 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, 1 bath, and a living room. We picked places that provided pack n plays (travel cribs), so DS1 had a place to sleep. San Francisco had an optional parking spot you could add for an additional fee and Monterey’s came with complimentary parking. Many times places add in little extras to make you feel at home. San Francisco’s owner had coffee and some treats (including kid friendly ones) waiting for us, plus a few toys. Monterey’s provided 2 passes to the aquarium, a high chair, and kid friendly plates, cups, and silverware. Both had lists of places nearby they recommended.
I love having a whole house or apartment available when vacationing, especially when kids still need naps. Believe me, we have hidden in bathrooms while DD fell asleep for nap waay to often to enjoy it! Both had laundry facilities as well included and saved us money as we could buy groceries for meals and eat at home when desired (for us this was breakfast and then we packed lunch to go).
On the drive to Portland, we had three different one night stays in Napa, CA and then Medford and Salem, OR. Even though we were mostly just sleeping, we still needed space due to differing bedtimes and waketimes. Finding hotels that are true suites–completely separate bedroom and living room is hard! I find hotels call anything with a sofa a suite, even when not separate!
We had good luck with the Hilton line–Embassy Suites in Napa, Homewood Suites in Medford, and Doubletree in Salem. We then stayed again at an Embassy Suites at the Portland airport the night before our flight as we had to leave at the crack of dawn.
Embassy Suites, Napa—free happy hour and a snack bar with pita, hummus, carrots, chips, salsa, etc. In house restaurant (not cheap, but good food). Bathroom attached to living room. Mini fridge and microwave.
Homewood Suites, Medford–free happy hour (not as extensive as Napa’s) and a full-on free meal! They rotate, but our night they had meatballs in sauce, cheese stuffed pasta, breadsticks and salad. No restaurant, but if you like the free food, no need to go out! Nice outside patio area with some grassy space the kids liked running around in. Bathroom inside bedroom. Full kitchen with stove top, full fridge, dishwasher, microwave. Cookies on check in too!
Doubletree, Salem–no free happy hour, but an in house restaurant and they had happy hour drink deals. Family Suite was the weirdest one yet–main room had sofa, desk, mini fridge, microwave, and 2 queen beds while bedroom had king bed. Bathroom attached to main room. I guess they figured parents could have privacy in the king room? But that only works if everyone goes to bed at the same time. We ended up putting the crib in the king room and DD3 and I shared the king and DH slept on a queen in the living room as he was up way later than us.
Embassy Suites, Portland Airport–Free happy hour and light snacks, plus in-house restaurant. We actually did room service and aside from $2.50 delivery fee, it was the same cost as the restaurant (though slightly more limited options). Good sized portions. Bathroom attached to living room. Good sized and a nice table for eating or working. Lovely fountains in lobby and free shuttle to the airport 5 min away. We dropped off our rental car that night and then used the shuttle in the morning to save time.
Overall, the Homewood Suites was our favorite followed by Embassy Suites. Doubletree was just too odd a layout!