Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee, in suburban Wauwatosa.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
The Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee, in suburban Wauwatosa.

When it’s cold in the Midwest, and you’re traveling with kids – in our case, two moms and four kids – an indoor pool is a must. Indoor pools are strangely scarce among hotels in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But there’s a perfect one in a nice, friendly hotel 10 minutes west of Milwaukee, in suburban Wauwatosa, the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West.

What works for families at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West

* A just-big-enough indoor pool with plenty of towels

* Clean, updated rooms

* Good, inexpensive, kid-friendly food at the hotel restaurant, Innovation

* Free parking

* Friendly, customer service-focused staff

What doesn’t work for families at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West

* No mini fridges in the rooms

Kind of a bummer, and it forced us to use an ice bucket to keep our cheese purchases from the Milwaukee Public Market cold overnight. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal.

* Can’t walk to anything

The hotel is right off I-45, and near some hospitals and corporate offices, but not much else. If you want to grab a quick bite to eat, or you want to see the sights, you’re gonna have to get in your car. Downtown Milwaukee is a 10-minute drive.

Room Cost

Prices start around $96 a night, but most rooms are in the low hundreds per night. Includes free WiFi, plus free use of the pool and workout room. TMOM Travel Disclosure

The Hotel

I realize “nice” is a subjective word, but that’s the word that keeps coming to my mind when I think of this hotel. Nice people, nice rooms, a nice pool, and a very nice overall experience.

While it’s not a giant pool, our brood ranging in age from 6 to 11 had plenty of space to swim and have fun. The water and pool area were clean, and the whirlpool tub was right next to the pool, so we could relax while still keeping a close eye on the kids.

On the way back up to our rooms, we stopped for an assortment of ice cream, candy bars and chips at the small 24-hour shop next to the lobby. As we paid for the items, the friendly hotel staff talked to the kids. We said goodbye to each other by name.

Free parking is one of the big perks of staying in the suburbs of a big city. Have you paid to valet park your car lately at a downtown hotel? It’s at least $30 a night. Here? No valet, but no charge.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The rooms are clean and updated at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West hotel.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
The rooms are clean and updated at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West hotel.

The Rooms

The one thing I value the most in a hotel is a clean room and clean bedding. Our room passed the test.

The beds and pillows were clean and comfy, the décor had been updated, and there were all the usual amenities including a coffee maker and a flat-screen TV. We didn’t try it, but the hotel’s restaurant offers handmade pizza delivery service to the rooms. I can see that being a big bonus for families tired after a busy day.

Another appreciated feature: individual reading lights that don’t light up the whole room.

Amenities

The hotel had all of the usual amenities you’d expect. The unexpected one was my favorite – a little tri-fold of TempleSpa products called “Sleep Tight.” The kit contained a generous-sized QUIETUDE Calming Mist, and two small packets of lotion. All three products smelled like a luxurious spa, and they provided me with a moment of calm after a busy day in Milwaukee with the kids.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The kids like the Friday Fish Fry in Innovation, the restaurant inside the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
The kids like the Friday Fish Fry in Innovation, the restaurant inside the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West.

Dining at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West

Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West’s restaurant, Innovation, is known for its Friday Fish Fry (a Wisconsin tradition). The secret, the hotel staff says, is the batter – and they were right. It was a light, perfectly flaky and non-greasy coating for the cod and walleye. It came with a choice of potato and corn. The restaurant was packed starting at 5 p.m., so be sure to make a reservation. Fish fries are on every menu in Wisconsin on Friday nights, so the fact that so many locals come here is quite an endorsement of the food.

We also had breakfast at Innovation, which was good food and reasonably priced – just $5 for the kids (and less for smaller kids) to load up on eggs, bacon, sausage and more at the breakfast buffet.