Children don’t care about hotel bedding thread count or in-room amenities, and they aren’t easily bowled over by Michelin-rated restaurants or swank late-night lounges. And for parents traveling with their kids, having access to a full-sized crib and daycare services is appreciated far more than a chilled bottle of champagne or room-service charcuterie. The key to a seamless trip is a spate of amenities tailored to specific needs. Happily, many hotels—both big brands and family-owned boutique properties—recognize the value of family-friendly accomodations and welcome the pint-sized (and their parents) by offering everything from a family club room stocked with kid-specific entertainment or an in-room visit from the ice cream man to craft custom sweets. Things to look for: babysitting services, the ability to easily rent or borrow essential gear (strollers; bouncy seats), healthy children’s menus, and special hotel activities such as pizza-making or a children’s afternoon tea.
Known for its kids’ happy hour, hula hoops in the fitness center, and a signature Guppy Love program (rentable goldfish), Hotel Palomar doesn’t just tuck their young guests in a daycare. Instead, this low-key hotel goes the extra mile to make families feel welcome (even including in-room child safety kits). Best of all, parents travel hands-free thanks to rentable equipment including strollers and bouncy seats.
The Peninsula, Chicago
The Peninsula’s top-notch service isn’t just reserved for high-rolling business travelers. Its attention to detail extends to travelling families, with full-sized cribs stocked with Burt’s Bees bath products and bath toys, babysitting programs, loaner tablets, kid’s cooking classes, and age-appropriate films. Children can also enjoy afternoon tea with Peter Bear and snack on chocolate bars or housemade marshamllows.
The Four Seasons, Chicago
The Four Seasons is known for rolling out the welcome mat to families. There is always a standout amenity upon arrival (such as a coloring book), and an expertly-appointed kids’ clubroom. Here, the tykes will find everything from board games to movies and crafts. A visit from the hotel’s ice cream man makes room service extra special.
Park Hyatt Hotel, Chicago
Built by the Chicago-based Pritzker family to feel like an extension of their home, the ambiance is alluringly residential. Their “VIC” program” (very important child”) provides kids with a backpack filled with fun, age-aware gear, and a menu of healthy options. A mini-manicure or pedicure is available, and made extra-sweet with chocolate chip cookies.
With 80-percent of its guest rooms considered suites, this spacious property is bursting with amenities such as cribs and high chairs, rentable tablets, and classic board games. Come bedtime, the Waldorf Astoria offers turndown service for stuffed animals and a Nighty Night bath package including a bath toy, lavendar bath soap, ice cream, and in-room tee pee.