When I was a kid, my family would often go on summer vacations. I remember waking up early to watch my dad pack up the car before we set off for an hours-long drive to our destination. By the time we got to our hotel, wherever we were, my sister and I would be restless, cranky, and probably hungry (fine, likely all just me). When we were reminded we'd have to share a full-sized bed during the trip, the already cramped hotel room turned into a war zone. She wanted the side near the wall, but so did I! Most nights, I would end up waking my parents because my sister, who is nearly four years older, literally kicked me out of our bed (accidentally, of course). These vacations were fun, but definitely not relaxing for my parents.
That's why when my sister and I took a trip to California last month and saw the rooms at The Garland, a family-owned resort-style lodge in North Hollywood, we were so impressed by the set-up. Kids get to sleep in bunk beds. I repeat: bunk beds! Where was this hotel when we were young?
Families can book a Kids Room with a twin-sized bunk bed and privacy partition separating it from the queen-sized bed in the room, or a Family Suite with a nook for the bunk beds (the lower one is full-sized) and a separate area for a couch and king-sized bed. That's right—privacy can exist in a single hotel room.
During this trip my sister left her two adorable crib-bound sons at home, so we stayed in a Deluxe Room with two queen-sized beds (yep, as adults, we finally can get our own beds on vacation!). But I could sense her relief at knowing a real family-friendly hotel exists for when she's ready to take the kids on vacation. She could imagine herself enjoying a glass of wine on the room's private balcony with her husband, or even watching TV in bed while her kids slept, tantrum-free, in the bunk beds behind a partition (the dream, right?). Gone are the days when parents have to sit in a silent, dark hotel room because the kids' bedtime is 8 p.m.
After the whole family gets a good night's sleep, you can enjoy breakfast at The Garland's on-site restaurant The Front Yard where your kids can enjoy the homemade wildberry pop tarts (you'll want an order for yourself, too), then hop on a free trolly to Universal Studios.
I spent an entire day at Universal Studios dragging my sister around The Wizarding World of Harry Potter while sipping frozen Butter Beer. But there's plenty for young kids to love there, too, like Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Silly Swirly Fun Ride, and Super Silly Fun Land. Even if one child doesn't want to go on a ride, Child Swap allows your whole family wait in line together. One parent will go on the ride with the riding kids, while the other parent stays in the child swap holding area with the non-rider. Once the ride returns, the adults swap places, so the other parent can experience the ride.
If running around the theme park didn't tire your kids out, you can bring them down to the pool at sunset to watch a "dive-in movie" displayed on a projector screen. On Sundays, The Garland's private movie theater, Beverly Garland Theatre, shows family-favorite flicks.
On the last night of our vacation, my sister and I enjoyed a cocktail at the lobby bar overlooking the pool. We toasted to the end of one of the last sister trips we can take before her kids are old enough to want to come along. But when that time comes, she'll know exactly where to stay.