Winter can get long in Chicago, and the urge to fly away to sunny colorful places can be overwhelming. But a few weeks ago, I received the most amazing email invitation to get away and be treated to a night of luxury, without having to brave security with our shoes off, without even having to leave Chicago. We were invited by the Ritz Carlton Chicago for a family sleepover.
I responded to the email immediately, but a little hesitantly. “We’d love to come,” I typed, “but are you sure that you want our full family of six to spend the night at the Ritz Carlton? My four kids tend to make quite an entrance.” The PR person wrote me right back, reassuring me that they’d love to have all of us come and stay. The kids were welcome, more than welcome, in fact. She promised they would be delighted with all the kid-friendly amenities at the Ritz.
And so we packed up the minivan and drove in to the city to begin our family sleepover. The kids were welcomed with open arms from the minute we walked into the lobby, and a lady appeared with a wagon full of toys for the kids. Choosing just one toy was a challenge, but everyone walked away clutching a special stuffed animal or doll.
We were given the Michigan Avenue suite which had a huge living room with a pull-out couch, a large separate bedroom with a gigantic king bed, and two bathrooms. The living room easily accommodated an extra cot to keep the sibling rivalry over who gets what bed to a minimum and Baby Sophie was more than happy with the crib the hotel provided in the main bedroom. There was even an adorable camping tent in the living room which Juju promptly laid dibs on. She went to sleep in it, and although I moved her sleeping body and put it back in a real bed, she crawled back into the tent in the middle of the night. There was even a tiny, pretty, pink and fluffy bed for an American Doll Girl (the American Doll Girl store is just downstairs).
We did a lot of eating during our 24 hours at the hotel, beginning with a huge tray of candy, cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries that was waiting for us upon arrival. We also had a visit from the candy cart, where the Candy Woman let the kids put as much candy as they wanted in their bag. For dinner, we took advantage of the huge room service menu to have a feast. I wish I had a picture, but we ate it too fast. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that my rib eye steak was perfectly medium rare and the bordelaise sauce was to die for. The kids were thrilled with their burgers, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese, all finished with brownie sundaes.
Brunch in the hotel lobby was equally kid-friendly the next morning. Pancakes, french toast, eggs, and hash were another feast, but the biggest hit of the breakfast were the donut holes of the day: buttermilk apple cinnamon. We were even given beautifully wrapped packages of pennies to make wishes in the nearby fountain.
The hotel has a pretty pool and hot tub, but the hours kids can swim are limited during the week, including Friday nights. Do make sure to check the schedule before booking. They made a special allowance for our visit, and we kept our voices down to not disturb the spa guests. Being able to swim under the snowy evening Chicago sky was magical, but walking back to our rooms in our matching Ritz Carlton bathrobes like rockstars was even better than the swimming.
We plan on returning to the Ritz Carlton soon to check out the cookie making demonstration available each day for kids at 4PM in the kitchen, like the candyman visit, the toy gift upon check in, and use of the pool, it’s a free amenity for families visiting the Ritz Carlton. The tents are available to families staying in suites, and the pretty doll bed is included in the American Girl experience rate.
Sounds fun and all, but how much does all this normally cost?
The Ritz has a great deal available just in time for a luxurious kid-friendly spring break staycation. Stay two nights and enjoy 25 percent savings on the room rate and complimentary parking with the Chicago Escape package or stay two nights and the third is complimentary with the Third Night Free Offer. Rates for the Chicago Escape package begin at $281 per night, based upon availability. With the Third Night Free offer, average nightly rates are from $260 per night after third night credit is applied. Both offers are available through April 30, 2013, and are subject to availability.