When it's time for a city break with kids in tow, resourceful moms and dads can look to book fun, kid-friendly rooms, separate but adjoining, in hotels smack in the heart of things. San Francisco hotel owner (and mother of two) Yvonne Lembi-Detert says, "When you think about it, trendy kids' rooms are an obvious solution for downtown hotels, one that hotels have been rather slow to embrace."
Happily, some savvy, family-friendly hotels have caught on, with results that rate high with the younger set, from a princess theme to a high-tech teen scheme, bringing easy smiles to all ages. Prices range from practical to practically impossible, so it's best to get in touch with the hotel personally to discuss your own family and preferred dates. Here's a look at four great American cities with pedestrian-oriented downtowns.
Hotel Diva or the 100-year-old Hotel Union Square, both centrally located among the hills and thrills in the heart of San Francisco. Ding-a-ling go the cable car bells nearby, confirming you've found just the right location. Personality Hotels have designed bright and sassy kids' rooms in boutique hotels filled with entertaining -- but educational -- distractions. There's a Nintendo Wii, karaoke kit, Mac desktop, and pouf cushions. After a busy day out, your kids will dream away their San Francisco nights tucked into a bunk or trundle bed with visions of ferry boats and a golden bridge on a sparkling bay, sourdough bread, sea lions, and cable cars climbing to the skies. There's a contemporary-style king-bedded adjoining room for the grownups. To be prepared for quirky micro-climates and spectacular hilltop views, pack your walking shoes, a jacket, sunglasses, and a camera. And bring a leash, as Rover is welcome, too.A fixture on America's favorite cities list, why not bring the kids along on your next visit? Check into
The Plaza and The Big Apple were just made for each other, with the landmark hotel positioned enviably on Fifth Avenue, just steps from such kid magnets as Central Park and the legendary FAO Schwarz. Looks familiar? Besides "Home Alone 2," The Plaza has starred in dozens of movies since its 1907 debut. Aspiring knights may spend the night in a round bed under a soaring cathedral-like ceiling in the medieval-themed Tower Suite, girls may choose to feel pampered in the Eloise Suite which designer Betsey Johnson said she filled with "...petticoats, princess crowns, and even pink chandeliers!" Boys and girls alike will thrill to an Eloise introduction, bringing to life the fabled story of the fictional six-year-old who lived a rambunctious existence in this hotel with a dog, a turtle, and her nanny. Of course, parents are allowed. "Home Alone" and Eloise aside, kids will find that there is adjoining accommodation for parents, even an optional private dining room. There's very little The Plaza cannot provide, within limits of parental purse strings, that is. Horse and carriage ride around Manhattan, anybody?
What kid wouldn't dig unobstructed skyline views from an indoor rooftop pool on the 42nd floor? Located where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan, just two blocks from Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park, Swissôtel's only North American hotel is your Windy City pick. This sleek triangle of glass extends a cool VIK (Very Important Kid) welcome to what kids love best: fish, planets, and dinosaurs. "We make a traditional hotel room into a total wonderland with a nod to our famous partner attractions: Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Field Museum," according to Jack Breisacher, General Manager Swissôtel Chicago. Start your day with juice from the mini-fridge in the spacious adjoining parents' room, enjoy a complimentary swim and fitness center workout. You can extend your room theme because each of the hotel's themed kids' rooms comes with four VIP tickets to one of the partner attractions. How to get around? Walk this vibrant city, hop on one of the famous river boat tours, or just step out the front door to be whisked away for an urban adventure on public transportation.
Nobody can truly know Boston without walking the Freedom Trail, the self-guided tour chock-a-block with 17 of the nation's most famous independence-related sites and monuments packed into a 2.5 mile trail. Families love staying at the historic Omni Parker House across from the Boston Common, as travelers have done since 1855. In the Freedom Trail Family Suite, the kids can dress up in colonial costumes, tracing their fingers on a giant wall map of the walking tour which passes right by the hotel's front door. Turndown service includes milk and cookies, delivered to the suite's living room before the kids crawl into their handsome dark wood bunk beds. Have tweens and teens along that are too old for coloring books? The hotel's Teen Connect activity intern is the guy in the know about where they should (and shouldn't) go. Don't miss Parker's Dining Room, home of Boston cream pie and Parker House rolls, where Ho Chi Minh was once a baker, Malcolm X was a busboy, and JFK launched his political career and later held his bachelor party. Work off the calories in the gym and then wander across the street to see who can find the grave of Paul Revere.