9 holiday-themed hotel stays your family will love

The holiday season means excitement, traditions … and stress. So when you think you’ll go completely crazy if you hear “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” one more time, or you’re sick of “texting” Santa about your child’s latest infraction, these 11 Chicagoland hotels come to the rescue with special offers created just for this most wonderful time of the year.


Swissotel Chicago


When: Nov. 27 to Dec. 31


Where: 323 E. Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $329


Where does Santa hang out when he’s not at the North Pole? The Swissotel’s Santa Suite, of course! The suite features an apres ski, Swiss chalet theme this year. Exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays, the Santa Suite includes Santa Days Dec. 7-22 where an elf guides families through the suite to meet Santa. There will be holiday wish list stations, face painting and crafts, plus chocolate bar and gourmet food offerings ($15 each, kids under 2 free). A portion of proceeds benefit SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. New this year is a special holiday breakfast with Santa, Pancakes and PJs Dec. 14 in the penthouse ballroom. The hotel packages include Elf-Decorated rooms, a special holiday amenity and access to the Santa Suite.


The Whitehall Hotel


When: Through Jan. 2


Where: 105 E. Delaware Place, Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $169


The Home Alone package includes a themed room with holiday decor, Home Alone and Home Alone 2 DVDs, two Turtle Dove ornaments, a mini bar stocked with cookies and M&M jars, and a framed photo of Buzz’s girlfriend. Plus, room service for two with a “Little Nero’s Pizza” (served in the same box as the movie), Mac n’ Cheese, Pepsi and an ice cream sundae.


Fairmont Chicago

When: Through Dec. 31


Where: 200 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $180.


The new Elf on a Shelf package brings a holiday tradition to another level. It includes an Elf on the Shelf hidden in every guest room, which features two double beds. For an additional charge, the Fairmont delivers cinnamon and paper for a letter to Santa.

The Peninsula Chicago


When: Nov. 23 to Dec. 31


Where: 108 E. Superior St., Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $1,200 for a junior suite


Jack Frost can happily nip at your nose while you glide around The Peninsula Sky Rink, which features festive music and snowflake lighting (and hot beverages and snacks!). The 2,100-square-foot outdoor skating rink is open daily, with proceeds ($20 adults, $10 kids) going to two Chicago children’s charities: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Hephzibah Children’s Association. A holiday splurge might be its Children’s Holiday Tea events with Mrs. Claus, including a holiday lunch, an afternoon tea, classic holiday stories read by Mrs. Claus, a visit from her hubby and a goodie bag of treats to take home. Available Friday, Saturday and Sundays, Nov. 29-Dec. 22. $125 adults, $110 kids 3-12, plus tax and gratuity. This year’s Merry and Bright Chicago family package includes in-room holiday decor including a gingerbread playhouse, holiday welcome gift, family passes to Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science and Industry, free skating and drinks for four at The Sky Rink, chocolate bar for four and in-room Christmas movie library.


Great Wolf Lodge Illinois

When: Nov. 29 to Jan. 5


Where: 1700 Nations Drive, Gurnee


Cost: Rates start at $199


From daily snow showers in the lobby to seasonal activities – PLUS the 84-degree indoor waterpark! – this year’s Snowland theme at Great Wolf also features an all-new Frosty Fest. Expect interactive games (Reindeer Antler Toss for example), family dance parties to holiday hits and a hot cocoa bar in the lobby. Santa arrives after Thanksgiving to meet with the kids. A limited number of decorated Snowland Suites are available to put everyone in the holiday mood. It also is partnering with Make-A-Wish Foundation and selling special holiday-themed wolf ears to benefit critically ill kids.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago


When: Through January


Where: 160 E. Pearson St., Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $239


Make the Ritz-Carlton Chicago a home away from home with its Home for the Holidays package this year. Stay cozy in one of the rooms while gazing at the beautiful Chicago cityscape. Kids are treated to cookie decorating or stocking decorating ($30 per child). Pick sweet treats from a candy cart that makes a stop to your room. Valet parking and a hotel credit of $100 to be used towards a holiday event of your choice. Take in a holiday afternoon tea Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 22, $35 per child under 12, $65 adult. It also offers a Christmas Day buffet, $55 kids 5-12, $168 adults.


InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Hotel 


When: Through the holidays (hotel package through March 31)


Where: 505 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $137


The hotel is rolling out the red carpet for the holidays, offering guests a “milk and cookie hotline” for in-room treats, a two-story Santa’s Workshop that includes a toy-building area for kids, visits with Santa and dive-in holiday movies in the hotel pool. Up the family bonding time with the hotel’s themed package, the “Snuggle is Real” with pillows for fort-building, unlimited movies, a build-your-own cookie set, plush toys for the kids (or wine and spa credit for the adults) and more.


Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way


Where: 3630 N. Clark St., Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $229


New this year is a special Winterland Package including an overnight stay, ice skating rentals and passes, souvenir hats and gloves and hot toddy. Gallagher Way offers Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville, the ice rink, a huge holiday tree and Santa’s workshop, plus a variety of classes such as wreath decorating, holiday movies and curling lessons. Don’t miss Hotel Zachary’s Breakfast with Santa Nov. 30-Dec. 22 and Teddy Bear Tea Nov. 30-Dec. 29. Reservations can be made at Resy.com.


Loews Chicago

When: Through March


Where: 455 N. Park Drive, Chicago


Cost: Rates start at $189


Banish cabin fever and “Get Snowed Inn” at Loews this year. The package includes hot cocoa and a decorate-your-own cookies kit made by the hotel’s Pastry Chef, one in-room movie per stay, valet parking, a tent and campfire set for kids to enjoy during their stay, and two signature cocktails per stay for parents to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. Reserve the package Nov. 15-21, Dec. 15-21, Feb. 7-12 and March 5-10 to get two free tickets on the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. This year, as part of its “Loews Loves Families” program, the hotel has created special Sugar & Spice Hot Cocoas for December.


Eaglewood Resort & Spa


When: Nov. 29-Dec. 30


Where: 1401 Nordic Road, Itasca


Cost: Rates start at $179


Head to Itasca’s Eaglewood Resort & Spa as the 106-acre property is transformed into an enchanted land. The “Unwrap the Magic” package will be sure to bring the holiday cheer with story time and hot cocoa with Santa’s helpers, holiday crafts, bowling in a retro bowling alley, and a yummy holiday breakfast buffet.


Pheasant Run Resort


Where: 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles


Cost: Rates start at $209


Head to St. Charles for this holiday one-stop shop. On Sundays in December, kids can get their holiday wish lists ready with Breakfast with Santa ($12.95 kids 6-12, adults $24.95, kids under 5 free) and visit his workshop and decorate cookies. Or take in a show, “Holly the Elf Saves Xmas Eve” Dec. 6-8 or “Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical” Dec. 11-22. The family fun overnight package runs year-round.


Follow Cheryl’s family adventures at O the Places We Go.


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