Detroit as a vacation destination may seem like comic fodder, but the city is enjoying a renaissance that suits family travelers. To court the family market, a hotel needs luxury family friendly accommodations. The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit fits the bill, with an ideal downtown location and amenities that make every guest feel the love.

Family friendly Detroit; spend time at the DIA

It’s easy to find a family friendly Detroit hotel, and easy to fill a couple of days touring the city. This is the mural at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Motoring in to Motor City

On our way to see my in-laws in Cincinnati, my husband, daughter and I picked up a Jeep in Detroit for the drive. Since we had to return the car to Detroit, we decided to spend a couple of days exploring the old and new in Detroit.

I was a little worried about driving a Chrysler to a Cadillac hotel. But it turns out the Book Cadillac is not named for the General Motors luxury car line. It was actually named for Antoine De La Mothe Cadillac, the founder of Detroit. The hotel, built in 1924, was the tallest hotel in the world in its time, and after years of decline, was renovated and restored to its former glory by Westin.

Family friendly Detroit, with a stay at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit

Yes, Detroit is family friendly! And the Book Cadillac Hotel is the perfect place to stay

This means the hotel now features a spectacular Italian Renaissance facade and thoroughly modern interior. It also has those heavenly Westin beds (they truly are spectacular) and a fitness program that loans you workout clothes for $5.

Reason 1 the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit is Family Friendly: The Pool

Book Cadillac hotel Detroit pool

Book Cadillac hotel Detroit pool – definitely family friendly. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Sure, lots of hotels have indoor pools. But this one is gorgeous and inviting, with lounge chairs, thick towels and a hot tub. There’s plenty of room to splash around, the air and water temperature are ideal and the pool opens at a family friendly 6am, so if your little ones wake up early, they can get their ya-yas out.

Reason 2 the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit is Family Friendly: Connecting Rooms

hotel Detroit room

Our oversized room at the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Connecting rooms are necessary for the sanity of the family and the set-up here is great. There’s a master door, with two separate rooms off it and if you need connecting rooms, you can use just that door, and have two full rooms. We were just in one room, but couldn’t hear our neighbors, so if you have to retire early to get the kids to sleep, you can have your own space.

Reason 3 the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit is Family Friendly: an Executive Club

I am a huge fan of club lounges, where you can get a free breakfast and evening snacks. If you book a club room, or are an SPG Platinum member, you have access to the 23rd floor lounge, which also has a great view of Windsor, Ontario, just a short ride away. (Alas, I was not allowed to leave the country in the Jeep, and I didn’t have my passport with me anyway.)

Reason 4 the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit is Family Friendly: the Dining Choices

Detroit has a surfeit of great places to eat: we went to a hip vegetarian restaurant near the museums, a great coffee shop with inventive food and a shared plates restaurant run by a James Beard nominee. The chef was formerly at one of the Book Cadillac’s restaurants, Roast, and we would have tried it, but it was too meat heavy for us vegetarians.

But there is also 24 Grille, with lots of local products, a coffee shop with sandwiches and a sit down restaurant with full breakfast and lunch. In a historic area of the hotel, you can see that the hotel used to offer children’s menus at its restaurant with special menus for kids at different ages, which makes a lot of sense; a 2-year-old has different needs than a 9-year-old.

Reason 5 the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit is Family Friendly: the Location

family friendly detroit

How to embarrass your kids; take a silly photo. At the Henry Ford Museum. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

The Book Cadillac is just a few blocks from the waterfront, where there is a carousel and fountains in warm weather. For winter pursuits, the Campus Martius park has outdoor ice skating.

And the People Mover and Q line streetcar are both close, perfect for kids who love to explore alternative means of transportation. The streetcar begins operating this spring, and you can ride it to the museum district, home to the Michigan Science Center, Detroit Institute of the Arts, and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The elevated People Mover circles downtown and costs just 75 cents a ride.

On our way to the airport, we stopped for a few hours at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. You could spend a day or three here, particularly when the historic Greenfield village opens for the season. There is also a Ford Rouge factory tour.

Reason 6 the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit is Family Friendly: Green Choice

Do you change your sheets and towels every night at home? You can make a green choice and get $5 off food each night you decline housekeeping (not the night you leave, obviously). So you can teach your kids a little eco-responsibility. They can hang a towel, make the bed – and get money towards food. You can also use the incentive to get more Starwood points.

family friendly Detroit

A Shinola bike in the lobby of the Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit: old meets new. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

And if you are inclined to give up your car and switch to a bike, there’s a shiny new Shinola bicycle displayed in the lobby. The Shinola factory is also near the midtown museum district. Ride the streetcar and drool over these bespoke, Detroit-made bicycles.

What Works for Families

  • Just about everything: see above

What Doesn’t Work for Families

  • Needing to use a key card to access your floor can confuse adults. We saw several in the elevator stabbing at numbers with no success. I understand why a city hotel uses this, but it can be even harder for kids.

Note: I was the guest of Visit Detroit, which paid for my hotel. Chrysler loaned me the Jeep.