20 Things to Know About Great Wolf Lodge

As Great Wolf Lodge newbies, we weren’t quite sure what to expect on our weekend. Yes, I did some reading, but there’s still nothing like going yourself.

A boy sad to leave Great Wolf Lodge. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

1. Your wristbands are room keys Continue reading “20 Things to Know About Great Wolf Lodge”

Review: 2 Niagara Falls Hotels with Kids (Best Western Plus Cairn Croft Hotel and Clifton Victoria Inn at the Falls)

On our trip to Niagara Falls, we stayed at two different hotels. Our time was limited, and we chose one hotel in the heart of the tourist district, and one that was slightly further away. Here’s our review of both.

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

Best Western Cairn Croft Hotel

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Review: Glen Lodge in the Adirondacks

We were looking to raft in the Adirondacks near Lake George, and came across the Glen Lodge and Market when researching. Their rafting/lodging special was too good to pass up ($199/person for 2 nights’ lodging, breakfasts, rafting day and dinner). We came with 2 families, booking three of the lodge’s seven rooms.

glen lodge 1
The Glen Lodge in Warrensburg has seven rooms and a woodsy feel.

The rooms were all upstairs. They had plenty of space and were stocked with tables, chairs, toiletries and a hair dryer. While not fancy, it was quite comfortable and warm. One treat was Lake Champlain chocolates on the nightstand. Continue reading “Review: Glen Lodge in the Adirondacks”

Chicago: Embassy Suites downtown Chicago with Kids Review

**This is the last in our series on Chicago. In this series are our reviews of the Shedd Aquarium, the Willis (Sears) Tower and the Museum of Science and Industry). **

When we stay in a hotel, our preference is a suite – that includes breakfast (and even better for one that includes happy hour). We really enjoy having our kids sleep in a separate area, but not necessarily next door. We often end up at the Embassy Suites in downtown Chicago (600 N. State Street). (While we sometimes get rooms to review for the blog, we paid for this one ourselves).

embassy2
The Embassy Suites in downtown Chicago

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Avoid the Nightmare Rental – Tips to Choosing a Vacation by Owner Property

Recently I spent a girls’ weekend in Philadelphia with other travel writers. With six in our group, we wanted a place we could hang out, and a good location. It didn’t have to be luxurious, but it should be nice. Instead of going the hotel route, we went the rental by owner route. We hated our rental.

How can you avoid the mistakes we made when renting from an owner? Here’s how, using an in-depth review of the Perle Mesta Inn B&B in Philadelphia as our example.

One of the house perks: an alligator skin from Thailand
One of the house perks: hanging out with the alligator skin from Thailand

How the services work

Several established companies offer room/home rentals by owner. These companies act as a listing service and do some vetting (but do not manage the properties, nor do they physically see them).

When I looked at how it works on FlipKey (disclosure: they paid for our rental), owners can create a free listing. They upload all the details and photos, and can take payment through the site. They pay FlipKey a 3% charge for each booking. Guests booking pay a 5-10% booking fee.

We’ve been very happy with our VRBO.com rentals both domestically and internationally. Paige from Alloverthemap.com used airbnb.com extensively during her 11 month family trip around the world, and was happy with their services.

The key is to ask lots of questions. Don’t assume that the rentals are heavily vetted or inspected personally.

How are the rentals vetted? Continue reading “Avoid the Nightmare Rental – Tips to Choosing a Vacation by Owner Property”

Philadelphia: Embassy Suites with Kids Review

**This is part of a series on Philadelphia with kids. Please see all the posts in the series here, or check the bottom for individual links.**

The two times we’ve visited Philly with the kids we stayed at the Embassy Suites in Center City Philadelphia. As I mentioned in my intro Philadelphia post, our ideal hotel is one offering economical suites (so we don’t have to share the bedroom with the kids), one with a free happy hour, free breakfast and a hotel that’s convenient to the sites or public transportation. The Embassy Suites is all that in Philadelphia (and FYI – we are not receiving any compensation for posting this, and we paid full freight for our room).

embassy

The hotel is on the Ben Franklin Parkway, in close walking distance to everything we did on the trip. It’s close to the Franklin Institute (kids’ hands-on science museum), Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum. It was walkable to Independence Mall (about 20 minutes at a good pace), the Eastern State Penitentiary (maybe 20 minutes? We stopped en route at the Rodin Museum) and if you like walking (we do), you can walk to South Philly from there too. Continue reading “Philadelphia: Embassy Suites with Kids Review”

Review: Yotel

I’ve been wanting to check out Yotel for some time, and finally made it there when I went to a toy show. One of the nice women working in the information area agreed to take me to see some rooms. I didn’t realize how generous she was going to be, as she took me to a lot of rooms to give me a good idea of the various types they have. My kids were in heaven and wanted to stay there.

Yotel is at 10th Avenue and 42nd Street, an easy walk from Times Square (and Port Authority). The hotel is more economical than many, with rooms starting at $149 (in winter, for the smallest room for 2) and going up from there.

The front of Yotel, on 42nd and 10th. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Yotel is a very funky hotel with smaller than average rooms (think cruise ship), and they actually call them cabins. The space is well designed though, and you kind of forget about the size when you realize how much else it offers. Like great design! Yotel in NYC is the only actual freestanding hotel in its group – the other three are airport hotels at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and Amsterdam’s airport, where you can book by the hour without worrying feeling like you’re in a brothel.

Leave your luggage with YOBOT while you hit the town on your first or last day in town. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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Review: The Inn at Lambertville Station

So it’s a little cloudy in this picture, but the hotel is next to the river

We recently spent a romantic weekend (away from the kids!) in Lambertville NJ/New Hope PA. We stayed at the Inn at Lambertville Station, which is right on the Delaware River, looking out over New Hope. (Read 11 Things to Do in Lambertville/New Hope here)

Overall it was a lovely experience, save for the loud, drunk wedding guests parading past our room from 11-11:30 p.m. on Saturday night. See WARNING below.

The hotel is behind a historic station house which is now a restaurant (and two bars). The hotel is not old, but it looks old inside (in a good way). The front desk has a nice looking key pick-up area and gift shop with food, drinks and lavender soaps (the type they have in your room). Continue reading “Review: The Inn at Lambertville Station”

Review: Hotel Elysee

When I headed into New York City for a conference recently, I wanted an adult hotel – since my kids wouldn’t be with me. I wanted something boutique. And I always prefer something with free wi-fi and breakfast included.

I got so much more than that at Hotel Elysee . Haven’t heard of it? It only has 92 rooms, and it’s part of the Library Collection, with four hotels in New York City. The location was perfect for my midtown conference, as the hotel was on 54th Street, between Madison and Park.

This is why it’s part of the Library Collection! Part of the club room. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan.

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