ESHChicagoOutstanding features:  Pizzeria in the hotel, complimentary travel size toiletries, good herbal tea in the room, Phillip the concierge.

Space + location + free food = great family vacation hotel.  My teen son and I were invited by Embassy Suites Hotel on State Street in Chicago to see their newly renovated property that sits in the middle of everything there is to do in downtown Chicago. The family-friendly Embassy Suites Chicago might be just what the doctor ordered.

DestinationReviewThe design is referred to as legacy because the architects maintained the open atrium in the center of the building as well as their focus on plants and water.  Breakfast is included in your stay as well as the manager’s reception, which means free drinks and snacks at the end of a long day of sightseeing. Or you can take a dip in the indoor pool or work out in the gym, although both are a little small for the size of this hotel.

Space

Some of the rooms in the newer Embassy Suites Hotels have a side-by-side configuration. Legacy hotels, however, maintain the front-and-back layout where you walk through the living room to get to the bedroom.  All of the rooms still offer that much-coveted space that families love – a living room with a pull-out sofabed (or a large, comfy twin bed), kitchenette with fridge, sink and microwave, bedroom with a sink and vanity and two large flat screen TVs.

I only had one of my kids with me on this trip and we still used all of that space.  He set up camp in the living room in case he decided to stay up late and watch a movie.

Location

Staying in the center of all the downtown action just makes a family vacation better.  Less time is wasted commuting and navigating.  More time is spent sightseeing and doing.

Embassy Suites on State Street is within walking distance of great shopping, Michigan Avenue, the John Hancock Building, Water Tower Place, the El, Al’s Famous Beef and Portillo’s Hot Dogs, Pizza Uno, and much more.  There is a free trolley nearby to take you from the hotel to Navy Pier if you don’t want to walk it.  The hotel is short cab ride to the Willis (aka Sears) Tower, Buckingham Fountain and the Shedd Aquarium.

Food

omelet_eshBreakfast at Embassy Suites has a generous variety of foods including a cook-to-order omelet station, yogurt, fruit and Japanese foods station with miso soup, seaweed salad and tofu.  The bagels, zucchini bread and English muffins were just beyond the Japanese bar.

The cocktails and appetizers at the manager’s reception were just as generous: mixed drinks, beer, wine, a signature cocktail, and sangria.

Don’t eat too much at the manager’s reception because you won’t want to miss Pizzeria Via Stato, the hotel restaurant.  It was recommended to us by a local (our cousin) and he was right. We tried the special ham and peas Pizza of the Week. Delicious.  Any of the pizzas would be good because of the authentic thin Italian crust. Plus you can charge the meal to your room (and earn more Hilton HHonors Points).

The free food is a huge cost savings to a family like ours. For us, the savings on breakfast alone can add up to more than $60.  It’s worth waiting in line for.

Speaking of lines, expect there to be one during peak season.  We waited more than 45 minutes for breakfast on our first day. The hotel manager said that happens when guests are less than honest about how many people are staying in their room. If they think only 1,000 people are staying, but 1,600 show up for breakfast, it can be a logistical challenge. The hotel addressed the problem the next morning by setting up several breakfast stations. Our wait was a much more reasonable 15 minutes.

Free Wi-Fi for all HHonors Diamond and Gold members, as well as the business center computers in the atrium.