I love to travel. But hotels, not so much. I have two little kids, and most hotels just don't seem to be made with families in mind. Whoever designed the side-by-side queen-bed double that has become the standard room definitely did not have children. What adult wants to go to bed at 7 p.m. on vacation? (Or risk the alternative: An intolerably cranky kid the next day). With this setup the kids' lights out has to be your lights out. Unless they are babies and you can squeeze their Pack 'N Play into the bathroom (which I've been known to do, but it makes getting to the toilet tricky!). And if you do pack everyone in to the side-by-side doubles you have to listen to, "He's breathing too loud!", "She's stealing the covers" and, "Mommy, what are you reading over there under your blanket?"
That's not a vacation, people!
Luckily the hotel industry has listened to gripes from people like me because now there are more hotels that are catering to the needs of families. At Parents this month we list ten national chains that are getting it right (find the full list here). And this past weekend I had the good fortune of being invited to stay at our #1 mid-priced pick: The Embassy Suites by Hilton, and at one of its prime locations, in Louisville, Kentucky. I grew up in a suburb of Louisville so I was excited to go back.
The Embassy Suites Downtown Louisville just opened this past spring in time for the Kentucky Derby; they gut-renovated an old department store called Stewart's. It's smack in the middle of the action on Fourth Street where there are free concerts (Rachel Platten was playing when I visited) and lots of activities within walking distance (Whiskey Row with restaurants and bourbon tastings and the Kentucky Science Center for the kids. You can even walk across the Ohio River on a footbridge to the historic downtown of Jeffersonville, Indiana (gotta give it some love; my hometown!).
But the best part of Embassy Suites is the rooms. They are all two-room suites with -- wait for it -- a door! Your kids can sleep in one room with their own TV and you can do what adults do in the other, in peace. With your own TV and adjoining bathroom. My room had a Keurig coffeemaker, a fridge, microwave, and a huge bathroom. (In my estimation you could fit three Pack 'N Plays in there, although thankfully that wasn't necessary.)
Oh! And every evening you can take the elevator down to a reception where the staff serves beer, wine, and made-to-order cocktails to the adults and light snacks (cheese, crackers, pretzels, fruit) for everyone, including kids. You can sip your bourbon sidecar (as I did) and let your kids gobble up a snack that could count as a light dinner. All included. There's even a game room where big kids can play unlimited video games while their parents extend their happy hour. Pretty sweet. As I finished my second (free) cocktail I decided this whole hotel thing isn't so bad after all.
Chandra Turner is the executive editor of Parents magazine. She has two kids and lives in New York.