To kids, the hotel pool is everything. If you’re visiting Chicago and want a big, awesome pool for the kids, check out the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center.

Unlike the downtown Chicago hotels, where most pools are small, overcrowded, or too adult-oriented/spa-like, the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills – located in the upscale western suburb of Oak Brook Hills – has a huge, kid-friendly pool with games. It’s a nice hotel, too, located on a championship golf course. It’s about a half-hour drive to downtown Chicago (more if there’s bad traffic).

Photo by Jamie Bartoch For a family-friendly hotel with a great pool, go to the Chicago Hilton/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
For a family-friendly hotel with a great pool, go to the Chicago Hilton/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center.

 

Families visiting Chicago should consider staying in the suburbs. While yes, you’ll probably have to drive in traffic to get downtown during rush hours, you will get a lot more bang for your hotel buck in the suburbs. And a lot more family-friendly amenities.
Another bonus: hotel parking is free – an excellent value, since overnight parking at downtown hotels runs around $60/night or more.
I live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and another mom and I were looking for a fun “staycation” hotel for us and our kids (ranging in age from 7-12). The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills was a perfect spot.
Photo by Jamie Bartoch Even the hot tub is huge, and family-friendly, at the Chicago Hilton/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
It was only 50 degrees outside when we took this photo, so don’t rule out the hotel’s large hot tub in winter at the Chicago Hilton/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center.

The big “wow” factor for us were the giant indoor and outdoor pools. Around the pool is a giant Connect Four game, and coin-operated air hockey and video games. Inside the pool is a giant, large floating bowling pin that you can knock down with inflatable balls. The outdoor pool is equally huge. There’s a long, rectangular hot tub that runs the length of the pool. It was only 50 degrees outside, but the kids and I ventured out there and it was fantastic. The area was not well-lit at night, but that added to the fun for the kids.TMOM-disclosure-graphic

What Works for Families

The best thing about this hotel are the aforementioned indoor and outdoor pools. We spent almost as much time there as we did in our hotel room. They include some games, and there’s a little place in the lobby to buy an ice cream afterward. The hotel has free WiFi with an excellent signal. The rooms have large TVs with more than 100 cable channel choices, so there will be something for the kids to watch.
Near this hotel is Oakbrook Center, an upscale mall that currently is hosting a cool DreamWorks “Adventure to Santa” exhibit where you do all sorts of high-tech things – like a 4-D sleigh ride with “Shrek” characters – while waiting in line to have your photo taken with Santa (prices start at $40/family). The mall also has a lot of great restaurants. Some of my favorites are Wildfire and Antico Posto (both on the expensive side, but delicious food and good kids menus).

What Doesn’t Work for Families

There’s really no downside, other than you’re about a 30 minute drive (or more in traffic) to downtown Chicago. There’s no public transportation nearby. And the hotel is not within walking distance of anything.

Room Cost

Starting at $99/night.

The Hotel

Hilton Chicago/Oakbrook Hills is going through a property-wide renovation. They’ve just redone the lower level (the pool, meeting rooms, etc.). In December 2015, they’re staring a renovation of all the guest rooms, the restaurant and the lobby. Now, it’s a pretty typical but nice resort and conference center hotel. While we were there, a wedding was being held on the pretty outdoor patio that faces the golf course. The hotel isn’t just kid-friendly, it’s dog-friendly. Dog beds (and treats) are available.
Photo courtesy of Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills is a family-friendly hotel in the Chicago suburbs with huge indoor and outdoor pools.

Photo courtesy of Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills
The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills is a family-friendly hotel in the Chicago suburbs with huge indoor and outdoor pools.

The Rooms

We stayed in a suite that had two bedrooms, with a shared living room in the middle. It’s the perfect set-up if you’re going with 2 families. It was clean, comfortable and updated –  exactly what you’d expect for a mid-level hotel room. The pull-out bed wasn’t super comfy, but each room had enormous TVs.

Amenities at Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills

A restaurant and bar, a nice gym, large indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, hot tub, golf simulators, a championship golf course, and 150-acres of hiking trails. Snowshoes and sleds are available for use.
Photo by Jamie Bartoch For a family-friendly hotel with a great pool, go to the Chicago Hilton/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
For a family-friendly hotel with a great pool, go to the Chicago Hilton/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center.

Dining at Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills

The Chicago Cubs were in the playoffs during our stay – a big deal in this city – and the hotel was having a fun and family-friendly party at the hotel bar, where they were serving hot dogs and had the place decorated with balloons and Cubs flags. We opted instead for room service. It was fine and had a nicer-than-usual selection.

Special Packages this Winter

  • Now through Dec. 24, 2015 -“Shopping with Shrek Package.” Includes the DreamWorks ‘Adventure to Santa’ holiday experience at Oakbrook Center mall, breakfast for two, complimentary transportation to the mall, and a $25 mall gift card. Rates start at $114.
  • Dec. 1, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016, “Winter Wonders for Fido’ Pet Stay & Play Package.” Includes dog biscuits and designer treats, rooms with foam dog beds or cozy crates, water bowls, pet toys, meaty protein snacks, collar bandanas, and other seasonal surprises. The resort’s sprawling property is ideal for long walks. Complimentary leash collars and snowshoes, balls and Frisbees are also available. Package covers one dog that weighs up to 75 pounds, and is based on availability (larger dogs over 75 lbs will be considered by request only). Regular room rates apply, but a $50 pet service fee will be added.
  • Jan. 2-Feb. 28, 2016, “Winter Getaway Package.” After checking in, guests can explore the property’s 150-acres of  hiking trails, picturesque frozen ponds, and snow-laden trees. Snowshoes are available to loan and there are two sled hills. Then warm up next to a fire pit with S’mores and hot chocolate. Includes breakfast for two adults and two children, plus early check-in and late check-out. Rates start at $109

To book any of the packages, go to http://chicagooakbrookhills.hilton.com.

(Speaking of suburban hotels, another one I liked a lot was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Read the review here.)