We’re big fans of family city breaks — urban destinations offer an irresistible combination of iconic sights, global cuisine, unparalleled energy and cultural pursuits. While you might not be able to museum-hop to your heart’s content or take in a hot new show like you would have pre-kids, the tradeoff is the reward found in a child’s-eye view of the streets. You’ll be amazed at what you discover when you slow your pace, spend time chilling out in a park or at a cafe instead of racing from point to point, and pay attention to the tiniest details overhead and underfoot.
Ultimately, a successful city trip with kids starts with the perfect home base from which to explore. Here are 10 of our top urban hotel picks for families, all destination-worthy in their own right.
So many hotels feel like they could be anywhere in the world, but Hotel Zephyr is San Francisco through and through. Bold colors, locally inspired art and a nautical theme that runs throughout the property combine for both a sense of place and a sense of fun. Whimsical notes in the rooms, like porthole windows and lighting encased in fishing nets, appeal to kids and parents alike; request a room that overlooks the bay for a stunning view day or night. And given the prime location at Fisherman’s Wharf, sightseeing is just steps from the door — if you can tear the kids away from the onsite table tennis, shuffleboard and giant Connect 4 game.
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A central Paris hotel that offers connecting rooms? It’s true! This Left Bank gem is an incredible find, with a combination of old-world French charm and Hollywood Regency glamour that’s as comfortable and welcoming for the youngest guests as it is for their parents. With just 28 rooms, Esprit Saint Germain feels more like a private guesthouse than a typical hotel, an aura borne out by touches like bespoke service, the all-hours honor bar and a cozy fireplace lounge. Although accommodations are on the small side, kids can stretch their legs at the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg, a picturesque green space with a carousel, miniature boats, puppet shows and more.
While many New York travelers prefer to stay close to the main tourist attractions in Midtown, the Upper West Side is tailor-made for families. In this largely residential area, you’ll find wide sidewalks for strolling, easy access to Central Park, kid-friendly restaurants at every turn, and best of all, Hotel Beacon. Rooms in this converted 1920s apartment building are spacious and pleasant, but what really stands out are the onsite facilities. Kitchenettes or full kitchens in all of the Beacon’s accommodations, plus a large laundry area, make it feel like a true home base amid the bustle of Manhattan. Pop over to the famed Zabar’s gourmet shop for bagels each morning, then walk a few blocks to the 72nd Street subway station for easy access to sightseeing around town. The best of both worlds!
It’s not often you get to sleep in an official city landmark, but that’s part of what makes The Langham, Chicago so special. Housed in a 52-story Mies van der Rohe skyscraper, The Langham offers some of the most luxurious accommodations in the Windy City, blending classic comfort and contemporary panache with aplomb. The pampering doesn’t end outside the rooms; from the full spa and wellness center to the spectacular club lounge and the traditional afternoon tea, guests can indulge themselves in any way that suits their fancy. What we love most, though, is the care and attention given to family niceties – like the kids’ suite play area, complete with pint-size tables, chairs, toys and more.
What doesn’t the Corinthia Hotel, London have going for it? With an amazing location off the River Thames, exquisite accommodations, a truly spectacular spa and destination-worthy dining, this property satisfies even the most discerning parents while warmly welcoming little ones. Despite the opulence, it’s not stuffy in the least; amenities like family packages and special treats for children ensure that everyone feels at home. As difficult as it may be to venture beyond such a posh perch, this area is a sightseer’s dream, walkable to Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral and more. Plus, some of London’s most iconic parks are nearby — perfect for kids to work out the wiggles.
Amsterdam is a city of fascinating contrasts, and the Conservatorium captures them in appealing fashion. This buzzy yet relaxed property falls into the category of hotels we think of as kid-friendly if not kid-oriented — while there isn’t an extensive menu of family amenities, the setup and service ensure that children feel right at home. Bi-level Grand Duplex Suites, featuring a main-level sofa bed and a second-floor bedroom, work perfectly for families. The swimming pool offers children’s hours for ages 3 and up, and the chic Brasserie & Lounge, in an internal courtyard with floor-to-ceiling windows, includes a menu for picky palates. Best of all, every guest has access to a Conservatorium Host who proactively reaches out to help with needs and special requests, and feels more like a trusted friend than a staff member.
The picture of gracious Southern elegance, Windsor Court caters to families with the same hospitality that has made it an icon among luxury hotels. It’s located on the edge of the Central Business District, a less frenetic home base than the French Quarter and walkable to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, among other favorite spots. Families will gravitate to the rooftop saltwater pool, with inviting chaises where parents can luxuriate while the kids splash and play. And while Windsor Court’s signature Grill Room restaurant is well worth a parents’ night out (the concierge can help with babysitting requests), you’re also steps away from some of the best dining that New Orleans has to offer.
Proximity to the water is everything in Vancouver, in terms of spectacular views as well as the city’s plethora of outdoor pursuits. It’s hard to get any closer than Fairmont Pacific Rim, which sits on the shore just a stone’s throw from Stanley Park — a kids’ paradise that includes the Vancouver Aquarium, a farmyard, miles of hiking and cycling trails, and more. Our CB! staffers have long been fans of the Fairmont’s inclusive approach to families, which includes special packages, complimentary mini bathrobes, children’s toiletries and other perks. You’ll also appreciate the suite configurations, many including a second bathroom. As at all Fairmont hotels, kids 5 and younger eat free from the kids’ menu; 6- to 11-year-olds eat half-price off the regular menu … music to a parent’s ears!
Even in a place as thick with luxe hotels as South Beach, The Miami Beach Edition stands out. Despite the tony atmosphere, the vibe is laid-back and all about fun — a pair of gorgeous pools, an ice skating rink, an oversize sandbox, a bowling alley, a chic beach club and more will keep all ages busy and happy. Accommodations are modern and minimalist yet comfortable for kids; for a splurge, book one of the private bungalows, some of which feature a rooftop terrace with your own plunge pool. What bliss! While Miami Beach attractions and goings-on are easy to access from here, you could spend days enjoying the hotel and grounds without feeling like you’ve missed out on the best of the area.
Given the round-the-clock bustle of Rome’s Piazza di Spagna, hotels in this neighborhood aren’t typically thought of as tranquil sanctuaries. Incredibly, J.K. Place Roma pulls it off. This boutique hotel marries a spectacular location for sightseeing with flawless luxury and only-in-Italy flair. Families know they’re in for a treat from the moment of check-in; the reception staff charms adults and kids alike with a drink and one-on-one assistance, and that personal attention never wavers throughout the stay. Many of the room categories offer connecting options, but the JKMaster Room — with a full bedroom that closes off from a sitting area with a sofa bed — is the kind of heavenly expanse that’s hard to come by in the historic core of the city.
As the tallest building in Barcelona, not to mention one of the most striking, Hotel Arts is hard to miss. It’s just off the water in the city’s Port Olimpic area, with breathtaking views over the Mediterranean and quick access to a paved beachside walkway. In high summer, kids’ activities provide a pleasant diversion for the younger set — or just luxuriate around the pool as a family and admire Frank Gehry’s massive “Fish” sculpture, a local landmark. A handful of the rooms have kitchens for families who prefer to self-cater, though it would be a shame to miss out completely on Hotel Arts’ stellar onsite dining. While you’re not walk-out to the magnificence of historic Barcelona or Gaudi architecture, a 5- to 10-minute taxi ride takes you to most of the major sights.
Historic downtown Charleston feels like nowhere else on earth, and the luxurious Belmond Charleston Place is perfectly positioned to soak up its antebellum splendor. The property is grand in every way, from the sweeping open-arm staircase to the immaculately dressed guestrooms. To accommodate the capricious coastal weather, the top-floor pool has a retractable roof that can let in sunshine or keep out rain. Step out the door to the heart of the city’s finest shopping and dining; a few streets farther afield lie the cobblestone thoroughfares, narrow rowhouses and porch-bedecked single houses for which Charleston is famous. The Battery, a waterfront promenade at the southern tip of town lined with wedding-cake mansions, is within easy reach. Relax and gaze over the ocean at the distant profile of Fort Sumter while the kids run and play in the lovely White Point Garden.
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