Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit with kids – and while I already had my Top 10 Chicago Family-friendly Restaurants sorted, I hadn’t yet found a favorite Chicago hotel to recommend – until now! We just got back from a fun stay at Loews Chicago and I couldn’t wait to tell you about it!
Chicago is an amazing city for travelling with kids.
It’s got a ton of kid-friendly attractions, amazing restaurants, and a vibrant cultural scene that accommodates and welcomes kids.
During our recent trip to Chicago, I wanted to find a kid-friendly hotel that was close to Navy Pier and was well-priced while still being luxurious and indulgent. We had previously stayed at a Loews Resort in Orlando, which we enjoyed but we were blown away by the customer service and attention to detail at their Chicago location.
The hotel was conveniently located less than 10 minutes away from Navy Pier (and about the same distance from Millenium Park’s famous Cloud Gate “Bean”). My friend was also planning on coming with us for the trip and she was excited at how close we were to the Magnificent Mile for shopping… I was just excited at the proximity to so many restaurants!
When booking the hotel, I was intrigued at the variety of special offers that they had available. When we were looking at staying they had a Bed & Breakfast package, a Suite Package, and the Snowed Inn package – and while the foodie nature of the first two packages appealed to me, the Snowed Inn package was too cute to resist!
Snowed Inn Package & Room Review
The “Snowed Inn” package is Loews Chicago’s Winter package for families, available from November 16 through April 1. (During the summer they offer the “Urban Explorers” package.)
The package includes valet parking for one vehicle, hot cocoa and cookies, an in-room movie credit, 20% off at ETA Restaurant + Bar and the Spa at Loews Chicago – and of course, that fun pop-up tent and campfire set for use during your stay.
The Premium Room with 2 Double Beds was quite spacious and impeccably clean. I always appreciate the little details with quality hotels, like drawers for the bathroom items, good-quality in-room coffee, adequate lighting in different areas (so early risers like me can get some work or reading done without waking up the others), good quality sheets and bath towels, solid Wi-Fi signal and good mattresses.
The highlights of this room had to be the amazing view and the unbelievably comfortable mattresses. My friend and I both have great-quality, new mattresses at home and we were both lamenting leaving these mattresses when we left Chicago – they were a welcome treat every day after walking around the city.
But the view of Navy Pier and Lake Michigan is definitely worth the splurge for a Premium room (approximately $20 extra). Not only were we treated to that gorgeous view every day, we also got to enjoy seeing Navy Pier lit up at night and watch their weekend fireworks display.
One thing to note with the room is that it comes with a mini-bar, not an in-room fridge. You have two options if you need items refrigerated: you can pay $20 for a mini-fridge to replace the mini-bar or have the concierge desk place your items in their fridge. It’s one of the newer mini-fridges that automatically charges you if items are removed so simply removing the items or placing your items around theirs is not an option.
Loews Chicago Amenities
I really loved how much Loews Chicago had to offer in the way of amenities. This is wonderful on arrival or departure days when you don’t want to stray too far from the hotel and really makes travelling with kids a lot easier.
The hotel is in a great restaurant district but you must make time for a meal at ETA Restaurant + Bar while staying there – and the 20% off with the Snowed Inn package makes it even more attractive. (Check out my full restaurant review below.)
There is a full-service spa right beside the pool and fitness center, so if you have older kids or someone else available to supervise them, you can pop in and get a quick massage or your nails done! They are also more than happy to welcome kids if they are getting a service done.
My friend and I did shellac manicures and Ella got a regular manicure – the manicures were really well done and the staff made Ella feel so special (and kept her occupied while my manicure was finishing up since shellac takes longer).
I would book your appointment ahead of time via the concierge – we booked for a Saturday morning and they typically only have two manicurists available, but knowing that we wanted three appointments they brought in a third manicurist for the morning to accommodate!
(I also have to take a moment here and give a serious shout-out to the concierge team. They e-mailed me previous to our arrival offering to make restaurant reservations or arrange event tickets and provided several awesome dining reservations during our stay.)
Ella loved the lane pool and we went for two swims during our stay – they had long hours for the pool which allowed us to fit it in to our schedule rather than trying to squeeze it in (it’s a pet peeve of mine when hotel pools are only open when most families would be out and about enjoying the city).
If you wanted to get a spa treatment, work-out or supper to yourself without the kids in tow, they also have in-room babysitting available from a (bonded) third-party provider.
Also, they have a “Kids’ Closet” available to guests which includes toys, car seats, strollers, nightlights, and self-contained DVD players with age-appropriate DVDs; teens get music download cards and access to a lending library of Gameboys, DVD players, board games, etc. I think this is such a thoughtful idea – in case you forget (or underestimate the need for) a stroller, or fly in and don’t want to tote the car seats through security… or just want to pack a bit lighter! (There are also cribs and additional roll-away beds available.)
Oh – and the room service? It’s not just for humans! Yup, there is a gourmet room service menu for cats and dogs as part of Loews pet-friendly offerings (which also include lending items, pet-walking and pet-sitting).
Proximity to Chicago Attractions
One of the best parts about staying at Loews Chicago was that we were steps away from Navy Pier and Millenium Park, and walking distance to several other awesome attractions.
During the summer, I would walk through Millenium Park to get to Museum Campus – it’s gorgeous and full of beautiful photo opportunities – but during the winter, I highly advise taking a bus or Lyft/Uber. (If you have a train fan, grab the L-train!) We took a Lyft back from the Shedd Aquarium and it was less than $8.
Once kids catch sight of Navy Pier from the window, they will be begging to walk over and ride the Millennium Wheel – a giant, climate-controlled ferris wheel on Navy Pier. Navy Pier is also home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, several restaurants and shops, and is the docking point for a few cruises. We love love love the Chicago Children’s Museum and had an amazing night on board the Odyssey for their champagne cruise.
On the night of our arrival, we hit up Pinstripes for a delicious meal and bowling – and it had seriously the best bread pudding I have ever had (and it’s my favorite dessert so I’ve had a lot!) It’s right around the corner from both Navy Pier and Loews Chicago, so it’s a great idea for a night that you want to stick close to the hotel.
ETA Restaurant + Bar Review
Ok, so let’s be honest – sometimes hotel restaurants are a complete let-down. They are solely there for efficiency, convenience and to keep a bit more money in house.
However, on our first night, I knew that definitely wasn’t the case by the size of the crowd bustling around the bar! We made a reservation for the last night of our stay – and that’s probably for the best because had I eaten here on the first night, I probably would have tried to eat my way through their menu for the rest of the trip.
The vibe during the day is what I would clumsily call “upscale rustic” – but come suppertime they dim the lights and the place becomes a cozy and classy venue for a romantic or relaxing meal. (However, it did my pictures no favors so definitely head over to their site for more mouth-watering shots.)
The children’s menu was nicely varied and extremely well-priced – my daughter had the mac n’cheese topped with toasted bread crumbs and had samples of our dishes.
The wine list was extensive and well-varied (I spotted several good South African and New Zealand wines, along with a few bottles of Amarone – all personal favorites) but we settled on sharing a bottle of prosecco and our glasses were never empty at any point during our visit.
I was travelling with the extremely talented Lisa Peacock (of Lisa Peacock Photography) so we split a couple appetizers and mains so we could try out as many dishes as possible.
Below is the pot roast poutine which was a fantastic and creative re-engineering of one of my favorite Friday night treats – Chef Matt Lange used crispy fingerling potatoes instead of fries, then topped it with chewy Wisconsin cheese curds and melt-in-your-mouth pot roast. It was a meal unto itself, despite being touted as an appetizer.
Lisa wouldn’t let me dip my spoon into her Broccoli and Cheddar soup, but she assured me that it was delicious.
We then dug into the Chicken & Dumplings and the NY Strip Steak. I’m a huge steak lover and it did not disappoint, but we have to talk about that chicken which I am now referring to my “$200 Chicken Meal.” I never order chicken in restaurants – it very rarely appeals to me and I tend to opt for things that I can’t make perfectly at home or that sound a bit unusual – but since we were splitting the steak we agreed on chicken for the second main.
And, oh my goodness. It was the most tender chicken I have ever had – even though I was past the point of full by the end of the meal, I kept sneaking bites of the chicken to try to figure it out. It had this delicious, crispy, perfectly seasoned skin and yet the chicken was fork tender and perfectly cooked on the inside. I had been holding myself back from buying a sous vide machine for the past two years but this meal is the #1 reason why I finally bite the bullet… so I hold Chef Matt personally responsible for that (and now refer to his chicken as the $200 Chicken Meal).
We were absolutely stuffed but ordered the Chocolate Stout Cake for dessert with Nutella ganache, chocolate pretzels and cherries which was really moist but I could have handled it being a bit more chocolate-y.
The TL;DR Edition (Things to Keep In Mind)
- The Snowed Inn package is offered from November 16 through April 1 and includes valet parking for one vehicle, hot cocoa and cookies, an in-room movie credit, 20% off at ETA Restaurant + Bar and the Spa at Loews Chicago – and of course, that fun pop-up tent and campfire set for use during your stay.
- If you need the valet parking, this is the best package available – the kid-friendly add-ons are a bonus.
- If you don’t need valet parking and are staying 3 or more nights, you may want to check out their other packages for the best deal for your needs
- Book an appointment in advance for the spa – kids are welcome and it is full-service
- Kids’ Closet on offer has toys, car seats, strollers, nightlights, and self-contained DVD players with age-appropriate DVDs; teens get music download cards and access to a lending library of Gameboys, DVD players, board games, etc
- Note: the in-room movies are expensive (which is pretty typical of most hotels) so the offering of the self-contained DVD players is awesome
- ETA Restaurant + Bar is conveniently located downstairs with delicious, well-priced food – a must-do while in Chicago
- Babysitting services can be arranged with the concierge team
- Less than 10 minutes to Navy Pier and close to Millenium Park
- $8 taxi or lyft/uber to Union Station (main train station)
- Lane pool and fitness center available – kids are welcome in the lane pool
Honestly, they could easily charge twice the price for their rooms/packages! We’ve stayed at $500/night hotels that were comparable so I found the offerings at the price an incredible value.
Lisa’s favorite highlights of the room were the mattress and the shower water pressure – because that’s what moms remember!
Ella’s favorite things about the stay was the teepee and watching the Navy Pier fireworks from our room on the last night.
For me – the mattress, the view, the concierge team and the proximity to so many awesome places make Loews Chicago an easy choice to recommend to anyone planning a trip to Chicago with kids.