James Hotel offers, yes, family-friendly luxury

Sure, Chicago is family friendly, but the corner of Rush and Ontario? Well yes, if you’re talking about the James Hotel, a hip boutique hotel, now reaching out to families.

I was skeptical when we entered the lobby where suitcases serve as sculptural artwork. I was afraid my rowdy boys would, at worst, break something and, at best, be seen as a nuisance. I’m happy to report that my family, kids included, was treated graciously and with utmost respect.

Staff at the front desk are beyond polite. In addition to dispensing keys and handling luggage, we were given information on dining options, car service and hotel amenities. The James is one of few hotels that provides car service, complete with car seats and boosters. In keeping with their fun and funky decor, the car seats are decorated by designer Paul Frank.

The front desk is also where we received City Passes, good for admission to a host of city museums. The complimentary passes are part of The James Weekend Adventurer Package, available to families who book a stay by April 30, 2010. Given car service and admission to places like the Chicago Children’s Museum, John Hancock and the Field Museum, it would be easy to spend no time in your hotel room.

But the rooms themselves are quite wonderful, if not child-proof. My sons loved our suite’s “screening room,” filled entirely with a giant bed and cushions. After having the concierge deliver some of the hotel’s free family-friendly films, we all cashed out to watch Harry Potter projected onto an entire wall in Bose surround sound. “Mom, this is awesome!”

Given the hotel’s neighborhood, dining options are endless, but we chose to eat dinner at the hotel’s popular David Burke’s Primehouse. While not overly fancy, this upscale eatery specializes in a variety of high-quality, aged steaks, making my husband extremely happy. I can also attest to the quality of their salmon. Thankfully, the restaurant also offers a generously portioned children’s menu with pasta and chicken. Returning to our room after dinner to find complimentary cookies and lovely turn-down service was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

The James Weekend Adventurer Packages start at $279 per night.

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