Bonjour! My husband and I and our two small children returned yesterday from a lovely, albeit whirlwind trip to downtown Chicago. Although we have stayed overnight in the city many times, this was our first annual Christmas sleepover in the Windy City.
Prior to our weekend getaway, we planned out the many things we would do as we played “tourist” in our own city. We did hit a few of the big sites – Water Tower Place, Michigan Avenue, American Girl, Macy’s, etc., but it was really the little things that made our stay memorable.
For instance, if you ever have the opportunity to stay overnight in Chicago, I highly recommend the Hotel Palomar – a fairly new hotel to Chicago, but a pro when it comes to the “little things”.
After looking at several hotels, we decided on the Palomar – a boutique hotel that is part of the Kimpton Hotel line. Having never stayed at a Kimpton Hotel, we were not sure what to expect, although the many amenities mentioned on the site had us very excited. Upon check-in, we realized that we were not staying at your basic hotel chain. Our children enjoyed hot chocolate and marshmallows in the lobby while I was at the front desk – so simple a gesture, but a huge bonus for kids who are chilly. The kids also received their very own goodie bags, complete with a winter activity book, pencils, a kaleidoscope, and more. And for the adults….. I was informed that because I was a Kimpton In Touch member, I could “raid the mini” bar (keeping it under $10) for free. This little amenity would prove to come in very handy at the end of our stay when only an $8 bag of gummy bears would suffice to calm slightly wild children.
The room was quite modern and well-appointed with very comfortable beds and….a goldfish? That’s right, we were very surprised to find a little friend in our room, a goldfish on loan from the hotel, that my children affectionately called “goldie”. The excitement grew as we opened the closet only to find animal print bathrobes for the whole family. Yes, there is nothing like seeing your children in leopard print robes, with goggles and flip flops on as they head to the pool. And speaking of the pool, the desk staff had the foresight to give us a room on the same floor as the pool, only a 20 ft walk from our room! They really must be mother’s helpers or Santa’s elves.
After walking all over the city in 25 degree temps, we were thrilled to find steaming cider back in the hotel lobby along with little bowls of specialty candies – lemonheads, jawbreakers, etc. Although we were not able to partake, the hotel did host a wine tasting reception in the early evening – which I’ve heard also include hot toddies and kiddie cocktails. There’s always next time, right?
The cold and endless walking finally got to us and we decided to have dinner in our room. And, because I said the secret password upon check-in (sorry, you’ll have to like them on Facebook to learn the secret word!), we were all treated to complimentary freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and milk in our hotel room at night. This was not only clever but a very thoughtful treat for an exhausted family.
At breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant Sable Kitchen & Bar, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast. But more important than the food, was the wonderful gesture by one of restaurant staff. After I returned from taking my 4 year old to the bathroom, I stopped in the lobby to grab two complimentary hot chocolates – one for me, and one for my daughter. Big mistake – my son was disappointed that I did not get him a drink as well and began to look very sad. A staff member, who was not our server, must have noticed my son’s face, when he appeared with an even bigger cup of hot chocolate with a marshmallow just for my son. The man said that he had a brother too and knew how important it was for brothers and sisters to have the “‘same” treats. Voila! That was all it took to put a smile on my son’s face and I didn’t even know the man’s name.
And so, with our luggage and a bag of gummy bears in hand, we headed down to retrieve our car from the valet. As the doormen opened the door for my children, one man smiled and said “well hello princess” and asked my daughter and son if they had fun during their stay. The smiles on their faces were answers enough – I was smiling too, all the way home.