Traveling with kids doesn’t mean you can’t stay at a hotel with personality and panache. There are hotels that both ooze character and welcome kids.
Not every family’s idea of a great vacation revolves around theme parks and cookie-cutter motels. For some, trendy boutique hotels in cool destinations with playful perks – like coffin-shaped swimming pools, eye-popping art, loaner scooters and roaming robots – hit the spot.
Go for a glam slam and consider one of the following hip hotels for your next family getaway.
Hotel Figueroa - Los Angeles, California
A colorful mural covers an entire side of Hotel Figueroa — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
With a swimming pool shaped like a giant coffin, Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles takes sun-kissed swank to the next level. As kids splash, they’ll get a bird's-eye view of Bella Gomez’s mural, a floral fantasy that covers an entire side of this 12-story building. Dine at Sparrow, where a worldly menu has nibbles to tempt tiny palates, like wagyu meatballs so light they may as well levitate.
It’s walking distance to The Broad, where Jeff Koon’s shiny Balloon Dog and Alexander Calder mobiles hold much kid-appeal and admission is free.
- Hotel Figueroa Downtown Los Angeles
Bobby Hotel - Nashville, Tennessee
Kids can pet a friendly pup at Bobby Hotel — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
With a rooftop lounge, gritty bar and design accents like salvaged car parts and a graffiti wall, Bobby Hotel emanates casual Nashville cool. Rooms are lavish yet livable, with red tufted-leather headboards and velvet curtains. A partnership with the local humane society means a friendly dog is in residence. Hairy is a floppy-eared emotional support puppy who relaxes in the lobby, ready to play with young guests.
The National Museum of African American Music is Music City's newest attraction. It's an immersive and highly interactive celebration of Black music, including spirituals, jazz and rap.
- Bobby Hotel
Hotel EMC2 - Chicago, Illinois
Robots roam at EMC2 Hotel in Chicago — Photo courtesy of EMC2 Hotel
Hotel EMC2 in Chicago is an ode to science and technology. Kids can crank the handle of a zoetrope and create a moving picture as parents check in. Named for Albert Einstein, The Albert is EMC2’s eatery, where hanging glass tubes make it look like a science lab. Best of all are Leo and Cleo, resident robot attendants dressed in tuxedos, who roam the halls and will gladly deliver a STEM kit or snack to your room.
It’s a short walk to Navy Pier, with a panoramic Ferris wheel and amusement rides.
- Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection
The Roxbury - Roxbury, New York
Wonder Woman is tiled on the shower at The Roxbury — Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, the Roxbury’s creative design elements should catch the eye of even jaded teens. Each room is individually decorated in a thematic way, blending imagination with sophistication. Cinderella’s Gown features an 18-foot ball gown doubling as a bed canopy and an enormous morphing pumpkin. Superhero Incognito is a shrine to Wonder Woman, complete with her likeness tiled on the shower and headboard.
Hiking paths, waterfalls and gardens are a natural elixir.
Logan Inn - New Hope, Pennsylvania
There's a rock-and-roll vibe at Logan Inn — Photo courtesy of Edgardo Dander for Landmark Hospitality
With a whiskey bar and cigar lounge, at first glance Logan Inn looks like an adult paradise. Peel back a layer and notice a movie theater screening family-friendly films and a concession stand overflowing with candy. Try a sushi rolling class at restaurant Ferry + Main and pick up a cue at the billiard table surrounded by images of rock icons John Lennon, David Bowie and Debbie Harry. The polished lobby has board games for young guests to play as they absorb a gallery-like collection of contemporary art.
Quaint New Hope is home to a heritage locomotive and scenic Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
- Logan Inn
Hotel Emma - San Antonio, Texas
Hotel Emma retains elements from its brewery days — Photo courtesy of Hotel Emma
Housed in a former 19th-century brewery, Hotel Emma incorporates reclaimed fixtures from its brewery heyday, including an original ammonia compressor and fermentation tanks, with plush textiles and ornate chandeliers. It adds up to an unconventional jumble of inspired style.
While beer isn’t a beverage for children, the staff caters to youngsters with complimentary milk and cookies. A rooftop pool adds an aquatic option.
Hotel Emma is located on the banks of the San Antonio River in the lively Pearl neighborhood, with shops, restaurants and a farmers’ market.
- Hotel Emma
Kimpton Hotel Monaco - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Kids can ride kickboard scooters at Kimpton Hotel Monaco — Photo courtesy of Micro Kickboard
At Kimpton Hotel Monaco, room décor includes paisley wallpaper, flamboyant animal print throw pillows and light fixtures hiding inside kitschy gold-plated bird cages. While adults sip chardonnay at the daily hosted wine reception, kids can ride on kickboard scooters.
Pittsburgh has shed its industrial image and transformed into a cultural powerhouse. At the Andy Warhol Museum, the prince of Pop Art’s repetitious patterns and familiar subjects, from Mickey Mouse to Campbell’s soup cans, keep youngsters engaged.
- Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, an IHG Hotel
The Rockaway Hotel - Queens, New York
A room with an ocean view at Rockaway Hotel — Photo courtesy of Kyle Knodell for Rockaway Hotel
Surfing may be the ultimate in-crowd sport and Rockaway Beach is New York City’s only designated surfing beach. With a coastal-chic atmosphere, the Rockaway Hotel is steps from the waves and easily accessible from Manhattan via ferry or subway. Scandinavian-style wood furnishings and accents of teak, linen and rattan provide a neutral background for pops of aquamarine and lemon. A seasonal pool, dashing art, a fireplace, rooftop deck, beach cruisers and delicious dining options enrich the guest experience.
They partner with Locals Surf School so families can learn to hang 10 year-round.
- The Rockaway Hotel
Havana Cabana - Key West, Florida
Vintage cars add eye candy at Havana Cabana — Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis for Havana Cabana
Free-spirited Key West is geographically closer to Havana than Miami, a fact that isn’t lost on Havana Cabana. Décor is elegant-meets-tropical with hand-painted murals in a saturated color palette capturing Caribbean vibrancy. A collection of mid-century automobiles, a poolside flamenco guitarist and a lobby swing are catnip for children.
Join Key West’s celebration at Mallory Square each evening at dusk, when tightrope walkers, jugglers and acrobats captivate kids and kids at heart.
- Havana Cabana at Key West
Liberty Hotel - Boston, Massachusetts
Liberty Hotel in Boston was once a jail — Photo courtesy of Liberty Hotel
Kids will get a kick out of Liberty Hotel, once the Charles Street Jail. The revamp honors history and maintains architectural integrity with winding catwalks, wrought-iron on the windows and a salvaged jail cell in the restaurant. If lively visuals don’t cut it, young visitors may try their hand at curling in colder months.
Located in Beacon Hill, Boston Common and the Freedom Trail are nearby.
- The Liberty, a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston