By Jamie Pearson
Last month the Doubletree Times Square upgraded my family and me to a really nice room. We had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a million dollar view. My husband and I hugged, whooped like lunatics, and peered out the windows while our children looked on in bemused silence.
They perked up quite a bit when the fun-savvy manager sent up a tray with milk and cookies (complete with an edible white chocolate New York taxi), but still, it was all I could do not to deliver my standard, "When I was your age, we were happy with plastic ice buckets and little tiny soaps" speech.
Kids these days.
Are you looking for a hotel with amenities that will knock your kids' socks right off their feet? Look no further. Here are five hotel chains that really know how impress their youngest guests and go way out of their way to do so.
1. Kimpton Hotels
From child-size animal print bathrobes and welcome gifts to complimentary pet goldfish for the duration of your stay, Kimpton hotels know how to have fun. Whether you want to rent a bunk room equipped with video games (Hotel Helix, Washington, D.C.), play Guitar Hero on a big screen in the lobby (Hotel Monaco, Seattle), or have your palm read by a psychic (Hotel Monaco, Chicago), Kimpton's got you covered. You're going to need a crowbar to get your kids to actually leave and go sightseeing.
2. Affinia Hotels
Tired of impersonal hotel rooms? Affinia hotels allow guests to customize their rooms prior to arrival by requesting everything from golf putters and Ibanez guitars to rubber duckies and cupcakes. While the wisdom of fueling kids with sugar then arming them with guitars and golf clubs is debatable at best, there's no denying that something... fun is going to happen when you do that.
3. Fitzpatrick Hotels
Show me a parent who is wildly enthusiastic about the inexplicable American Girl phenomenon, and I'll show you a parent who is a better person than I am. Your daughter will flip over the American Girl Experience available at either the Fitzpatrick Grand Central or the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel in New York City. Niceties include matching child and doll-sized canopy beds, bathrobes, and slippers. Staff will also greet both your daughter and her doll by name during your stay. Whether they can do this with a straight face is another story.
4. Loews Hotels
Loews Hotels calls their comprehensive award-winning family travel program Loews Loves Kids, but they might as well call it Just Ask. Each of their 18 hotels and resorts in North America has a lending closet stocked with such family travel necessities as games, books, car seats, strollers, hula hoops, night lights, potty seats, and baby bath tubs. Need a childproofing kit or an age-appropriate welcome gift? Just ask. Teens will love amenities like surf camp (Loews Coronado Bay Resort), teen cabanas (Loews Miami Beach), and sushi school (Loews Lake Las Vegas).
5. Joie de Vivre Hotels
This collection of boutique California hotels proves that kid-sized fun doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag. In San Francisco's Japantown, the whimsical Hotel Tomo wows kids with eye-popping anime-style murals, bean bag chairs, and in-room video gaming. Across town in the Marina district, the Hotel Del Sol does weekly complimentary poolside barbecue in the summer, and welcomes kids with beach-themed gift bags complete with visors, sunglasses, and beach balls. Down the coast in Santa Cruz, the quirky Dream Inn features views of Monterey Bay from every room, rocking chairs in the lobby, and a pool and Jacuzzi just steps from the sand. If that's not fun, then I don't know what is.
About the Writer
Jamie Pearson is a writer and mother of two. She sees the funny side of family travel, and blogs about it at www.TravelSavvyMom.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hotel del Sol, San Francisco, CA