Lying in a cold hotel room, deep under the covers, I looked over with interest at my husband as he read a book on his tablet. My two boys lay sleeping in the bed next to us, sprawled out in their queen bed without a care, somehow impervious to the arctic climate the hotel had adopted. The thought of cozying up with my husband for a little late-night snuggle to get warm crossed my mind, but let me tell you, the snores coming from my 7-year-old were a libido killer, not to mention the thought of his little brother waking up for God knows what reason and bugging us. It’s ironic that the little people I enjoyed making were now dampening their father's and my sex life as they slept not 3ft away from us.
Book the suite
Yes, suites are crazy expensive if you are a traveling family; more than once I've been stuck in a too-small hotel room, especially while in Europe with my kids. Heck, you probably should have just booked that Airbnb you had your eye on, but somehow you thought a tiny hotel room would be more convenient. (It isn’t. Ever.) At least with a suite you can throw the kids on the pull-out couch and have some quiet time to yourselves on that massive king-size bed.
Kick the kids out
Step 1: Send the kids to the hotel kids club or hire a babysitter to take 'em to the beach or playground for a few hours. Step 2: Hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign.
Bathrooms aren't overrated
Now don't get squeamish. If you have a baby, you already hide out in the bathroom as your precious little one falls asleep. You might as well take advantage of that tiny room that actually has a door you can close. And lock. Uncork a bottle of wine, order up some room service, spread out the towels, enjoy a picnic, and see where the night goes. In a limited space, countertops, toilet seats, and a running shower all have their uses.
OK, so your little angels are in the bed next to yours. They are zonked. And I mean out cold. You could blast the TV and no one would wake up. Cool! But just to be sure, put that sound machine on the nightstand between the two beds so any squeaks coming out of you don't hit those little ears as they drift out of REM sleep and get up to use the bathroom. You may not like the questions you get after that. For instance: My friend Kim’s toddler woke up one night in her Pack 'n Play, looked at her mom (and dad) who were otherwise occupied, and offered her mother her pacifier, because clearly her mother was in distress and needed some extra comfort.
2am booty alarm
Yes, you can set an alarm to wake up and have sex with your spouse. It may not be as spontaneous as you would like, but your kids will be deep in sleep, a generally a safe time. Just tell the kids their dad's snoring kept you up all night when they ask why you look so tired.
Build a fort
There's always a bed near a window in a hotel room. Make sure you get that bed! Stick the kids over by the bathroom. Throw some blankets on the ground between the wall and the bed, pull up a chair at the foot of the bed, and throw a sheet over it, tucking in the sheet around the chair and the head of the bed. Voila! Instant visual barrier from your kids that also lends itself to a little pioneer role-playing. If you don't want to be squished on the floor, tell the kids they are "camping out" tonight so they take the floor and you get the bed farthest away from them.
Happy hour on the balcony
Balconies aren't my first choice, but sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do, especially if you have younger children who can’t be left alone. If you keep the balcony door open a crack you can still hear any midnight wailing, but also get a little privacy, at least from the kids. Ask for extra blankets and pillows from housekeeping BEFORE the kids go to sleep and place them on the chair on the balcony. Once you are sure everyone is asleep, sneak out and quietly go about your business and try not to think about what you will do if one of your neighbors decides to walk onto their own balcony to enjoy the view.
Take a walk along the beach… with blanket in tow
If teenagers can do it, why can't their parents? I'm not saying you have to go all From Here to Eternity with this, but you can do your own private version of it for sure. If you have older kids, it's easy to sneak away for a bit with a blanket and some courage on a dark night. Find a secluded spot, throw down your blanket, and get to it. If it helps, bring a bottle of liquid courage and two plastic cups to help light that fire.
Skip the skinny dipping
One place not to get your groove on, no matter how great it might sound, is the hotel swimming pool. To wit: my friend Rachel, who was was sharing a hotel room with her husband and three children. After the pool closed at 9pm, she and her husband snuck over to it in the dark. As they disrobed and slid into the hot tub, the front-desk clerk came barging in, threw on all of the lights, and told them to get out. Best of all, the pool room walls were floor-to-ceiling windows; anyone wandering by could see them getting dressed for their walk of shame.
But, bright side, another 15 minutes and they'd have been golden. Don't give up on vacation sex! This is your time to relax and enjoy life. You just have to get creative and pack a few essentials to make it happen. Just, seriously, trust me on that "Do Not Disturb" sign.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.