real life

Stay-cation: Why more of us are holidaying without even leaving the hotel.

Jo Abi and her kids spent quality time on a stay-cation thanks to Novotel.





My son has been complaining lately that we never go on holidays. We are surrounded by families who make a point of travelling at least once a year to an amazing location and enjoying some real family time together, away from the daily grind of work and school and homework.

I tried to explain that we just don’t have time or money for a big family holiday. I felt really slack. Whenever he asks why we never go away, I usually just say, “Maybe one day…”

My husband and I have talked about doing weekend trips instead. After all, we live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Why not explore it a little? But there never seems to be enough time in the day to do it properly.

Then, I heard about the Novotel’s ‘stay-cation’.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Novotel. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

Stomach full of delicious room service, feet up, kids watching cartoons… this is the definition of relaxed.

A stay-cation is when it’s not always possible logistically or financially to take the family on holiday. So why not have a holiday at home? Whether its school holidays or a weekend, kids adore going to a hotel. And so do parents.

There’s room service, movies and restaurants with buffet breakfast…and it’s not home. For mums, your room gets cleaned, there’s no washing up and meals are prepared. You also have the opportunity to do things in your own town or city that you otherwise wouldn’t do.

The Novotel offers family packages for weekends away, organising plenty of entertainment for the children (with family passes to some amazing local attractions) and opportunities to unwind for the parents while creating new family memories.

We chose to stay right in the heart of Darling Harbour, at the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour.

It didn’t matter that we were only a 40 minute drive from home. Staying at the hotel just felt amazing. We immediately switched into holiday mode and spent every single second of our weekend having the most fun we’ve had in a while. I was freed from the constant cooking and cleaning merry-go-round I face at home and the kids were so happy to have our undivided attention. It was all about what we were going to do next.


My mum came with me because my husband had to work on Sunday (so many parents have to work weekends!) but he joined us on Saturday afternoon and evening. We had a blast. We booked a second room for my mum and the room was only 50 per cent of the normal price, so it is great to have more space or being able to bring the grandparents along.

The kids super excited about their welcome packs

Here’s what we managed to do in just two, short, bliss-filled days:

  • We arrived and the kids got a welcome pack just for them. It really made them feel special. And then we excitedly explored our hotel room. I headed straight for the mini-bar and the kids immediately began debating who would sleep in which bed. They all fought over sleeping with me, which made me feel pretty special, even though there was plenty of space to spread around the large room; food.
  • We arrived mid-morning after watching Giovanni WIN his soccer grand final and were starving. Room service! Can the hot chips get any bigger? We ate on the floor like a lounge room picnic while watching one of the many kids channels in the room;
  • Off for a short walk to the WILDLIFE Sydney in Darling Harbour to see some very scary snakes and spiders as well as frogs, turtles and butterflies;
  • We arrived back to the hotel just in time for a 5.30pm kids movie on a big screen complete with individual serves of popcorn;
  • The boys ran to the foyer where a Nintendo Wii was set up and we relaxed on the lounge with coffee, laughing at their attempts to race each other on Mario Kart;
  • Once we finished our room service dinner, we watched the 9pm Darling Harbour fireworks from the best vantage point of all time…our room which was six floors up;

    The perfect view of the Darling Harbour fireworks
  • We slept so soundly before waking up and doing some serious damage at the breakfast buffet which is free for kids under 16, thank goodness. Giovanni ate five croissants and Philip and Caterina ate bacon, sausages and watermelon;
  • Sydney Aquarium! It was only another short walk (so much easier than having to organise how to get there with complicated transport with kids). And gosh, those sharks really freaked me out;
  • Back to our room and we finally gave in to the temptation of the mini-bar and ate the Chunky Kit Kat and the Picnic;
  • Off to the pools for some serious fun before heading home, feeling so happy and rested. We had a late checkout of 5pm (this offer is only for Sundays) but still didn’t want to leave. Do we really have to go?

If you feel like you need a holiday, just do it. A weekend ‘stay-cation’ is all you need to relieve the stress of the school year and reconnect with your children.

When I asked the kids what their favourite part of our special weekend was, Philip said the pool, Giovanni said using the card to operate our room door and the lift, and Caterina said the pools and the popcorn.

For me, it was definitely spending every single second of the two blissful days with my family, completely dialled in to their joy and fun at all we experienced. I wasn’t distracted by housework or chores or any of the other million things that distract me at home. And just the pleasure of sleeping in the same room with all my babies in big comfy beds and waking up with them the next day will stay with me for a long time.

Now that you’ve read all about the stay-cation, check out Jo’s snaps from the weekend:


When’s your next Stay-cation? Whether its school holidays or a weekend, kids ADORE going to a hotel. And so do parents.

At Novotel hotels, your kids are personally welcomed with a special gift on arrival and they stay & eat free. Our rooms are designed to enjoy quality family time, spacious enough for 2 adults & 2 kids. If you need more space for your kids or their grandparents, you can book a second room at 50% off.  Don’t forget, at Novotel hotels you can enjoy a sleep-in with a late 5pm check-out on Sundays. Along with room service, movies, buffet breakfast & best of all, no cleaning up, how can you say no?

Book Now