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Paris with Kids — Planning Guide, Things To Do & Tips

This post will guide you through planning a trip to Paris with kids. Specifically, we focus on toddlers under three. We start by setting the scene and what a trip to Paris with kids looks like. Then we’ll get into practical information like when to go and where to stay. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a sample 3-day itinerary and some of our best Paris tips.

Whether you’re at the beginning phases of dreaming up your trip or you’ve already landed at CDG, this post has you covered.

Let’s get started!

Parents and toddler eat a crepe in front of the eiffel tower

In this post

Here’s what we’re covering in this post. We invite you to read the full guide or jump ahead to the section you’re most interested in.

What is Paris like?

Paris is a large city, both in population and geography. It is famous around the world for its cuisine, fashion and art, just to name a few things. The city is a popular tourist destination, attracting over 30 million visitors a year. But what is a trip to Paris actually like?

Filed under “popular things are popular for a reason,” let’s start by stating the obvious. Paris is beautiful. Whether your vision of Paris is Humphrey Bogart driving down the Champs-Élysées in “Casablanca” or an animated view from a rooftop in “Ratatouille”, the real Paris is just a beautiful as you see in the movies.

The traditional Parisian buildings that you probably picture — those long limestone apartment buildings with wrought iron railings and angled roofs — those are known as Haussman buildings. They really do line all the boulevards in Paris. Those green boxes filled with old books and art along the banks of the Seine really do exist. Cozy cafes really do spill out onto the sidewalks with people sipping espressos and talking politics. Paris is exactly what you expect in all the best ways.

Paris is walkable, but just barely so. Many of the city’s most famous tourist attractions are located a few miles apart, which is a bit too far for a casual walk but not far enough to always warrant taking the train. We always choose to walk because the streets are so beautiful, but it can be hard on a toddler’s little legs.

French is of course the official language, but most locals speak English as well — especially those who work in the tourism sector. Most signs, menus and info boards are written in French, but will usually have English subheadings or there will be a separate English version available.

It won’t surprise you that there’s lots to do in Paris. I’m sure you already know about their world-class museums, but there’s more to Paris than just art. Consider a boat ride on the Seine or playtime at one of the city’s many impeccably manicured gardens. Stroll down busy shopping streets or explore windy alleyways through unique neighborhoods like Latin Quarter or Le Marais.

Paris of today sits at a unique intersection of high- and low-brow. You can see the world’s best art inside the Louvre, but you can also be overcharged for knock-offs at Place du Tertre. Some restaurants highlight renowned French chefs, while others will serve up batch-processed French onion soup. The difference between the two is likely a matter of how much you know and how much you care.

If you’re visiting Paris with a toddler, think family walks down tree-lined boulevards, riding a carousel under the Eiffel Tower and maybe more Nutella crepes than you need to admit to the pediatrician. You can fill your days at art museums, exploring winding streets and busy squares and dining al fresco. Paris is a magical city, and even if your child doesn’t remember the trip, you most certainly will.

Is Paris kid friendly? What about toddler friendly?

In researching this myself before our trip, I found that most family travel blogs and major news sites alike confidently affirmed that Paris was kid friendly. They said that children will love the parks, the croissants and even the museums.

And while I do believe these things are all true, after my trip own trip, I realized that I was asking the wrong question. While Paris might be considered kid friendly, what I really wanted to know was if it was toddler friendly. There’s a huge difference between visiting Paris with a 2-year-old and visiting Paris with an 8-year-old.

I think a good measure of “toddler friendly” is the difference between a trip to a specific destination with a toddler compared to a trip to that same destination without a toddler. The more toddler friendly the city, the smaller that gap. The child can seamlessly enjoy the destination the same way an adult would. I would argue that Paris has a pretty wide gap for those traveling with a toddler and those without.

I’ll go right out and say it: I don’t think Paris is particularly toddler friendly. Paris did not make travel with a toddler easier nor did it directly appeal to toddlers — at least not relative to other European cities. I know this is likely to be an unpopular opinion, so I’ll back it up with three concrete examples of why I feel this way.

Before I get to that though, I want to be abundantly clear. Just because Paris is not overtly toddler friendly does not mean you shouldn’t bring your toddler. It just means you might have to be flexible, work a little harder or do some extra planning to ensure you and your child have a good time.

Dining in Paris with a toddler is really hard

There are a few things going on here. Some issues are objectively true, while others are matters of perception or the temperament of our specific toddler.

Let’s start with the facts. Many restaurants and cafes in Paris are not open all day, everyday. Some restaurants close entirely mid-day, only opening for lunch and dinner service. Other restaurants remain open all day, but only serve food during certain hours. In either case, dinner is typically not served until later in the evening, sometimes 7 or 8 PM. This is difficult for a child who goes to bed at 7.

Restaurants also typically close one or two days a week. When they close can vary by location and type of restaurant. For example, in the Madeleine district, most restaurants were closed on Saturday and Sunday, while fancier restaurants are typically closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Timing aside, restaurants themselves were not conducive to dining with a toddler. None of the restaurants we visited during our time in Paris had high chairs. That’s not to say no restaurants in Paris have them, but they were not the norm.

Street-side cafes in Paris tend to be very cramped. They have lots of tables, very close together, with very fragile tableware. That sort of set up, without a highchair, just seemed liked a recipe for disaster. I can’t imagine a scenario in which my two year old stays in their own seat or even sits on my lap, and isn’t constantly grabbing at things on the table. That of course could be unique to my toddler, but I don’t think that’s the case.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say children aren’t welcome in Parisian cafes, but they weren’t notably present. While walking the streets of Paris for four days, I hardly saw any children (I’m talking toddlers under three) dining at sit-down restaurants. That’s a stark difference to our experience in London where literally every restaurant we went into had a highchair and young children were regularly seen at pubs and restaurants.

The best things to do in Paris aren’t designed for children

I tread lightly in this section, because I do believe that children genuinely belong in all places adults belong. I would just note that the best and most popular attractions in Paris tend to be places like museums and churches, which generally appeal more to adults than children. To pile onto that, Paris attractions are crowded and can have punishingly longs lines if you don’t plan ahead, which can be brutal with toddlers.

Not every vacation with a toddler has to be to Disneyland. I get that. My point is just that Paris has more places that toddlers can go, than places toddlers want to go to.

For example, of Tripadvisor‘s top ten things to do in Paris, I would argue that only three (Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and maybe the Seine) are toddler-forward activities. I’d compare that to Copenhagen for example, where over half of their top ten attractions would directly appeal to the toddler set. This comparison is objective, but just an example of my point.

I have no doubt that if I brought my toddler to the Louvre, they’d have a fun time. However, they’d probably find that fun running down a ramp, eating a chocolate chip muffin in the cafe or tearing up the map. My point isn’t that they can’t have fun in museums and churches. It’s just that the attractions alone aren’t a core reason to bring a toddler to Paris.

There can be a lot of walking involved

Many of the city’s best attractions are separated by two or three miles, or more. That’s different than, say, Amsterdam, where you can walk just about anywhere in 10 minutes. As an adult, I loved a long walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, but that calculus changes a bit when you’re traveling with a toddler.

If you choose to take to the streets with your toddler, it will usually take longer to get between destinations. Increased travel time means decreased fun time. That time can be really valuable when your child is also taking one or more naps and requiring three meals a day.

Toddlers who can walk on their own will take even longer and are likely to show up to the destination exhausted. We recommend a baby carrier for those longer walks, but that’s more work on the carrying parent.

Some parents may choose to bring a stroller, which might seem like the most comfortable option. However, the sidewalks in Paris are often narrow and bumpy and the train stations usually do not have elevators. A stroller can be more of a pain than its worth.

This extra walking isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to consider when choosing where to travel with a toddler. It’s important to factor in how you’ll get around and long that will take. That will likely be a large chunk of your time in Paris, but it can also be the best part.

So should you visit Paris with a toddler?

As I mentioned above, I think a good evaluation of a “toddler friendly” city is how different a trip is with a toddler than without a one. A toddler trip to Paris means eating at different restaurants, reprioritizing top attractions and balancing long travel times with short toddler wake windows. I consider that gap to be pretty wide for Paris. Especially when compared to London, where our plans were nearly identical with our toddler as they were the past four times we visited as childless-adults.

So should you still bring your toddler to Paris? YES!

I want to emphasize again that just because Paris is not traditionally toddler friendly does’t mean it’s toddler hostile. It just means that you’ll have to adjust your expectations and maybe work a little harder to have a good trip with your toddler. That’s why the rest of this post, especially the tips section, is so important.

When to go to Paris with kids

When you’re traveling with children, you don’t always have complete flexibility with your schedule. By the time you’ve penciled in the Christmas trip to Grandmas, soccer games on Saturdays and the annual spring break waterpark trip, there might not be a ton of dates to choose from.

If you are blessed with some flexibility, here are a few things to consider when planning your trip to Paris.

  • Paris in the Spring (March to May): The city’s many parks and gardens are the star of a spring trip to Paris. The early spring tends to attract European locals during spring break while later spring is prime “shoulder season” for international tourists looking to beat peak travel season.
  • Paris in the Summer (June to August): Summer is peak travel season, so expect high crowds, high temps and high hotel prices.  August tends to be a popular travel season for French locals, so many smaller shops might be closed for the month. Extreme heat can be tough, especially because they don’t blast the AC everywhere like they do in the US.
  • Paris in the Fall (September to November): The autumn overlay on an already stunning city makes it feel like you’re walking through a painting. As the crowds, temperatures and daylight hours dwindle, Paris in the fall is perfect for enjoying a hot cocoa and crunching in leaves at the city’s many parks.
  • Paris in the Winter (December to February): Christmas decorations and markets light up Paris in December, but come January and February, it’s as quiet and cold as it ever gets. You will also benefit from the cheapest hotel prices and enjoy the lightest crowds during the winter months.

If you’re traveling to Paris with a toddler, we recommend April or October. These shoulder season months are likely to yield the most temperate weather conditions, so you and your kid will enjoy spending time outdoors. You should also benefit from some slightly shorter waits at popular attractions, like the Eiffel Tower.

April is good if you plan to spend some time in the parks and gardens. But if I had to choose, I’d go to Paris in October ever year. The weather is perfect, the city is beautiful, and the crowds are light. It’s got a twinge of holiday energy and great places to cozy up if it gets to cold.

How many days do you need in Paris with kids

There are so many variables when considering how long you need to spend in Paris. Are you visiting other destinations? Do you plan to spend time in Disneyland? Have you been to Paris before? Without going into every detail, we put together a few different time frames to consider based on a handful of common factors.

  • Stay in Paris for 1 day if … it’s all you have. One day in Paris is better than no days. Maybe you have a flight or train connection that allows you to work in a day in Paris, and that’s just enough for an epic walk from Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dam or to show the kids the Eiffel Tower.
  • Stay in Paris for 3 days if … you’re visiting other nearby cities in Europe like Amsterdam, London or Brussels. This is the perfect amount of time to hit the highlights and get a good taste of Paris.
  • Stay in Paris for 5 days if … you plan to spend a day or two at Disneyland Paris. Three days in the city paired with two days at DLP makes for a perfectly balanced vacation with kids.
  • Stay in Paris for 7 days if … Paris is your only destination and you don’t want put your toddler through different hotel stays. This will give you time to leisurely explore different neighborhoods and see the sights all while not feeling bad about going back to the hotel for nap time.

Where to stay in Paris with kids

Our two-year-old lives their life in 4-6 hour wake windows, and for younger kids that window is even shorter. When you factor in meal times and transit times, that can really cut into our fun time at a given attraction. Since meals aren’t negotiable, we prioritize reducing transportation times whenever possible. That means strategically selecting our hotel location in any given city.

In Paris, there are plenty of good neighborhoods to stay in with kids that are close to main attractions and/or train lines. The Latin Quarter is one great option, as it’s close to Luxembourg Gardens and has great street food options. Families will also love Le Marais, an artsy neighborhood with lots of squares and pedestrian streets on Sundays.

We personally recommend staying in the Madeleine district, just north of Champs-Élysées. It’s got a great location that is walkable to a couple prominent locations (like Arc de Triomphe and Tuileries Garden), but it’s also well connected by train if you don’t want to walk or need to get further away.

We stayed at Hôtel du Ministère – Madeleine with our almost-two-year-old and it was perfect. The room was nice, albeit a bit tight with the hotel-provided crib. We could easily walk to Madeleine and Miromesnil train stations, which connected us to the 8, 9, 12, 13 and 14 train lines.

The hotel wasn’t exactly cheap (we personally paid €1,397.88 for four nights, so about €350 per night), but it was cheaper than hotels in nearby neighborhoods. There are several other hotels in area as well at varying price points like Hôtel Monsieur, Sofitel Le Scribe Paris Opéra and Hyatt Paris Madeleine.

How to get around Paris

Walking through Paris is no doubt the most beautiful way to experience the city, but when you are traveling with a toddler, sometimes speed wins the day. Kids, especially toddlers, don’t always have the endurance to walk a mile or more and then do another activity. Fortunately, Paris is well connected by train.

The Paris Metro has 16 train lines that serve over 300 stations. It’s one of the densest and busiest subway systems in the world. It’s the quickest and cheapest way to move you and your family between locations in Paris.

Unlike the London Underground, the Paris Metro is not equipped with tap-to-pay functionality so you’ll need to purchase a ticket for each ride. You can buy tickets from the ticket machines located at each station with cash (Euro) or credit card. Be sure to hang on to your ticket after you enter the station because you will need to use it again to exit the station at your destination.

There are a few different ticket options, but casual travelers should plan to purchase a single journey ticket for each trip. These are point-to-point tickets, so you need to enter your destination station when you purchase your ticket. There is also an unlimited travel pass available for 1 to 5 days, which is only a good option if you know for sure you’ll be doing a lot of transiting.

A single journey Metro ticket costs about €2. Children under age 4 can travel for free on the Paris Metro and children under 10 are half price.

Where to eat in Paris with kids

Mealtimes were by far the hardest part about our trip to Paris with a toddler. We really struggled with closed restaurants, late serving times and limited toddler-friendly menus and spaces.

So where do you eat in Paris with toddlers? I wish I had all the answers. The best I can do for this section is list the places were we actually did eat with our 2-year old in Paris.

  • Perle Noire Sit-down restaurant with child-friendly pasta options, but no kids meal or high chair. Dinner service began at 6 PM.
  • Pomme de Pain Quick-service breakfast and coffee on Champs-Élysées with inside and patio dining or take-away.
  • Crêperie Chez Suzette Huchette Walk-up creperie in Latin Quarter. No seating, but we recommend taking your crepes to nearby Fontaine Saint-Michel.
  • Côté Sushi La Boétie Sit-down restaurant that offers takeaway. No children’s menu, but the platters are large portions and good to share with family. The veggie sushi is a fun and healthy option for kids.
  • Pizzeria Iovine’s Sit-down pizza place in Le Marais. Good backup plan if eating at Marché des Enfants Rouges fails for whatever reason.
  • Au Petit Comptoir Walk-up food window at Place du Tertre (Montmartre) that serves kid-friendly faves like pasta and pizza.
  • Eiffel Tower Cafe (330M Tour Eiffel) There’s a quick-service cafe on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. You need any Eiffel Tower entrance ticket to access that floor, but it’s a great, easy, kid-friendly dining option for your Eiffel Tower day.
  • Naked Vegan Burger Amazing option for vegetarian kiddos! The menu features a variety of fake meat sandwiches but also a vegan hot dog and chick’n nuggets. They have inside dining or takeaway.

Things to do in Paris with Kids

While a couple’s trip to Paris might consist of long days at art museums and late nights at the city’s premier restaurants, a family trip is going to look a little bit different. Here are a few of the best things to do in Paris with kids and toddlers.

  • Sail a toy boat around the pond at Luxembourg Gardens
  • Enjoy the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • Eat crepes for dinner in Latin Quarter
  • Walk along Champs-Elysees, making stops at the Disney Store, the Nike store (trust me!) and Galeries Lafayette along the way
  • Spend an afternoon at Montmartre. Ride the funicular up to Sacré-Cœur, take the Le Petit Train to Place du Tertre, and then count the steps on the way down the hill afterward.
  • Take a spin around the carousel at Trocadéro Gardens
  • Prove to your kids once and for all the museums aren’t boring at the City of Science and Industry
  • Pick up a colorful box of macarons at Ladurée and see if your kid(s) can guess the flavors
  • Enjoy a day or two at Disneyland Paris. The RER will get you there in about 45 minutes, so you can make it a day trip or stay a night at a Disney resort.
  • Dare to cross the suspension bridge at Buttes-Chaumont Park
  • Take a DIY walking tour of Le Marais, making sure to get falafel for lunch at L’As du Fallafel and taking a play break at Place des Vosges
  • Get ice cream at Berthillon and explore the streets of Île Saint-Louis
  • Play the day away at Tuileries Garden. Then pop over to the see the top and bottom of the pyramid at the Louvre. (We’d skip going inside the Louvre with a toddler, but if you have the time and energy absolutely go for it.)
  • See the city from the water on a day-time Seine river cruise
  • Play on the rooftop of the only skyscraper in Paris at Montparnasse Tower
  • For the perfect souvenir, get a portrait drawn at Place du Tertre (if your toddler can sit still for it, that is)

Sample 3-day Paris itinerary with kids

With its charming streets and winding alleys, Paris is a city for strolling aimlessly. People love to tell you to just “explore” and “see where the city takes you.” In fact, the french even have a term for this. The word Flâneur is used to describe this type of urban wanderer.

While that all sounds well and good, I need a little bit more structure. I’m fine with a stroll … as long as I know the general area I’m supposed to be strolling through, have at least three meal options saved, know where a bathroom is and have a final destination in mind in case my stroll lasted a mere 15 minutes. I’m much more of a planner, and if you’re reading this post, I think you might be, too.

So I’ve put together an itinerary that balances aimless wandering with some concrete plans. It’s flexible, so feel free to use this as a baseline and explore from there. This itinerary covers three full days and assumes travel days on either side.

This itinerary is perfect for toddlers, but parents and older kids will love it, too.

Day 1: Champs-Élysées, Tuileries Garden & Montparnasse Tower

  • Coffee & breakfast at Café Joyeux on Champs-Élysées
  • Enjoy the view of Arc de Triomphe
  • Head down Champs-Élysées, stopping in any stores or restaurants that appeal to you and your kiddos. We always love the Disney Store, macarons at Ladurée and popping into Galeries Lafayette to cool down in the summer.
  • Continue on to Tuileries Garden. There’s a playground, carousel and tons of open space for the kids to play.
  • At the end of the gardens is the entrance to the Louvre, marked by the famous glass pyramid. Then take the stairs down to the entrance to see the inverted pyramid underneath.
  • Lunch & nap break. There are some quick service restaurants in the underground mall by the Louvre entrance, which is a good option for little ones.
  • Visit the observation deck at the top of Montparnasse Tower. It offers the best views of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in sight. This observation deck and rooftop is much more relaxing than the Eiffel Tower, plus there’s more space both inside and outside for the little ones to run around. (And there’s a bar of the rooftop for parents … just saying.)
  • Dinner & bed time

Day 2: Eiffel Tower & Montmartre

  • Coffee & breakfast at Terres de Café
  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If you can’t snag an advance ticket, be sure to show up right when it opens (usually 9 AM). We definitely recommend going all the way to the summit.
  • Lunch & nap break. You can get pizza on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy it with a lovely view of Champ de Mars.
  • Spend the afternoon at Montmartre. Start by taking the funicular from the southwest corner of Square Louise Michel up the hill to Sacré-Cœur. You can walk inside the church for free or go to the top for a small fee.
  • Then take the Petit Train de Montmartre (which picks up right by the church) on a guided tour of the neighborhood. Or just walk over to Place du Tertre, popping into souvenir shops along the way.
  • Pick up crepes for dinner and enjoy them on the steps of Square Louise Michel, enjoying the sweeping views of Paris.
  • Bed time

Day 3: Le Marais, Latin Quarter & Luxembourg Gardens

  • Coffee & breakfast at Motors Coffee
  • Spend the morning exploring the neighborhood of Le Marais. Here are some landmarks to guide your journey: Saint-Jacques Tower (also has a small play area), east down Rue de Rivoli, small carousel near the Saint-Paul Metro station, Place des Vosges, Jewish Quarter (Rue des Rosiers between Rue Pavée and Rue Vieille-du-Temple), Marché des Enfants Rouges (food market), Square du Temple.
  • Lunch & nap. Marché des Enfants is a good option for food in general, but it wasn’t great for toddlers in our opinion (limited options, poor seating, seemingly long waits). There’s a pizza place nearby though, Pizzeria Iovine’s, which was a great option for us.
  • Cross over Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge for a view of Pont Neuf on your way to Notre Dame. The inside of the church is still closed from the fire in 2019, but it’s worth passing through the area to see the outside.
  • Pick up an afternoon coffee or snack at Shakespeare and Company. If the line isn’t too long, take a peek inside the bookstore of the same name, too.
  • Get a feel for the Latin Quarter with a walk down Rue de la Huchette toward Fontaine Saint-Michel. This is a great area to explore, wandering through small winding alleys and pedestrian streets.
  • Wrap things up in Luxembourg Gardens. There’s a great playground on the west side or you can rent a toy boat to sail on the pond in the summer.
  • Dinner & bed time

10 Tips for Visiting Paris with Kids

  1. Always check restaurant and business hours. Paris is not a 24/7 city and many places are closed when you least expect it. Many museums are closed on Tuesdays, quick service restaurants are closed on weekends and sit-down restaurants often close between lunch and dinner.
  2. Bring a baby carrier. Paris is not great for strollers. The sidewalks are narrow and bumpy, and most Metro stations do not have elevators. A baby carrier will be way easier. We have a separate post dedicated to baby wearing for travel and our favorite baby carriers.
  3. Tear your train ticket after you leave the station. Single journey Metro tickets are small paper tickets. You have to use your ticket to get on and off the the train. If you’re taking the train a lot, it’s easy to lose track of which ticket you’re using. Once you’ve finished your trip, give the ticket a tear to mark it use used.
  4. Plan half days. Paris is pretty spread out, so grouping activities together in sections will help cut down on travel time. Use the time in the middle for naps and relaxing.
  5. Bring a high chair harness. High chairs were not common at restaurants in Paris. This portable harness is great for a quick solution if you’re dining out or for easy eating in your hotel room.
  6. Check for Eiffel Tower tickets 60 days in advance. If visiting the summit of the Eiffel Tower is important to you, advance tickets can be really helpful with kids. This is the best way to avoid standing in lines if you can’t commit to arriving right at open.
  7. Consider Montparnasse Tower instead of the Eiffel Tower. That said, if you don’t have your heart set on the Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse Tower is a great alternative for kids. It’s way easier, more spacious and the views are arguably better because you can see the Eiffel Tower. Our almost-two-year-old absolutely loved it.
  8. Find a Franprix near your hotel. This is a French convenience store / grocery store that’s all over Paris. It’s a great spot to get healthy snacks, milk for bedtime, extra diapers or last-minute meals for kids. We visited the one by our hotel every single day.
  9. Take advantage of discounted Metro fares. Children under 4 can ride the Metro for free and children 4 -10 can get half price single-journey tickets. There is a separate fare selection for children at the ticket machine.
  10. Add at day at Disneyland Paris. Paris is great and there are plenty of things that are fun for kids, but it’s not overly toddler friendly. If you’re looking for something extra special that will blow your kid’s mind, plan an extra day at Disneyland Paris. It’s an easy, 40 minute train from Paris Gare de Lyon station right to the gates of Disneyland.

The Takeaway

Traveling with children is an adventure, to say the least. It’s exhausting and stressful, but it’s such a privilege. To have the honor to watch my child experience the world and all its beauty and mess and wonder and diversity is truly something I’ll never take for granted.

At the time of writing this post, I’ve only been a parent of one kid for two years. In that time, our kid has stayed in 30+ hotels, flown on 20+ flights, visited four countries and lived in three states. Traditional “stability” is not something they know very well.

But they do know flexibility and the importance of trying something new. They know that people and places don’t always look the same and that’s okay. In fact, it’s great. They know that no matter where we happen to be in the world, we are together and there is joy to be found.

All this to say … go to Paris. Take your toddler. Teach them about art and how to say thank you in a new language. Take them on long walks and reward them with croissants. Show them that the world is big and there’s room for different and difficult. So what if you have to eat takeout burgers on the hotel room floor.