Lewis the Duck welcomes younger guests to Homewood Suites by Hilton

Some hotels consider their pool to be the only way to entertain younger guests. Homewood suites by Hilton takes welcoming kids one step further by being the only chain in the world to publish a line of children’s books.

The books revolve around the adventures of an adorable wood duck called Lewis. In the books, you join Lewis on his trips. Not only are the books really well written and illustrated – they are also educational. In the first book, “Lewis the Duck and his long trip”, kids learn about hotels and how to locate a Homewood Suites (look for the duck!). In the newest book, “Lewis the Duck goes to Canada”, kids learn about our neighbors to the north.

The books are available in the “Suite Shop” at Homewood Suites properties, or online at the fantastic Lewistheduck.com. At that site, kids can also play a Lewis the Duck game or create their own Lewis luggage tag. The books cost $7.99.

One cute fact I learned – the books are written by the global head of Homewood Suites brand management – Bill Duncan. As we mentioned earlier this week, Homewood Suites are a great pick for families traveling with kids, and being able to read to your kids from a Homewood Suites may make their trip even more enjoyable.

Large suites and a sweet breakfast – Gadling reviews the Hilton Homewood Suites Downtown Chicago

When it comes to hotels, we like to review all kinds of properties here on Gadling – special hotels that have a little something extra to offer, and the kind of hotel we’ll all end up using sooner or later. The Hilton Homewood Suites chain is one of the latter.

The chain offers affordable all-suite accommodations designed for extended stays. Of course, this doesn’t rule out using the hotel for a single night. In fact, I personally prefer all-suite hotels over boutique or upscale properties, simply because I enjoy space over luxury.

In this review, I spent the night at the Chicago Homewood Suites, located right in the middle of the action in Downtown Chicago. The property offers 233 rooms all just minutes away from Michigan Avenue and some of the best shopping and dining options in the city. This particular Homewood Suites property is rated 6th best in the city by Tripadvisor, which is extremely impressive considering the properties it is up against.

The hotel does not have its own parking garage, but there are several multi-level garages next door, under one minute from the front door of the hotel. The hotel does offer valet parking for $42/night, which is just $10 more than the self-drive rate for the garage.

Check-in and lobby

The hotel lobby is located on the 6th floor, though staff are stationed on the ground floor to help with luggage. The check-in procedure was quick and efficient, with no surprises. In the lobby area, you’ll find a fairly large public space with chairs and a fire place, a small store selling refreshments and the breakfast buffet and dining area.

The store sells you usual assortment of snacks, beverages, gifts and toiletries. Since all rooms feature a microwave and stove, the store also sells basic food items and meals. Purchases can be charged to your room. The hotel offers a fitness room and large pool (on the 19th floor), as well as several meeting rooms.

The room

Bedroom area – the room was just the right size, offering a sink area, closet and dresser with flat panel TV.

In-room kitchen. Because Homewood Suites properties are designed for extended stays, rooms come with a fridge, stove, microwave and dishwasher. Everything you need to use the room as a “home” is present – pots, pans, silverware and other utensils.

On the fridge is a menu listing the evening meals being offered. These meals are offered for free, and the selection is surprisingly decent. During my stay, the meal consisted of meatball subs with onions and peppers. It obviously won’t replace a home cooked meal, but at the end of a long day it is nice to not need to worry about cooking or trying to find a local restaurant.

Both rooms offer a flat panel TV, though none of the programming was in HD. Thankfully, the multimedia connection panel lets you plug your own device in. The panel offers HDMI, VGA and composite inputs, which means you can easily plug an iPod/iPhone or laptop into the TV and watch your own movies.

The desk was spacious, and offers two open outlets along with a wired network port. The hotel offers free wired and wireless Internet, and the speeds were not bad (around 1.6mbit on the wired connection).

Decent Neutrogena amenities in the shower, along with some really good water pressure – a huge plus.

The room is well laid out, and it comes with efficient climate control. As in most hotels, the humidity is an issue, but that can be fixed with a damp towel or your own humidifier.

The 2 room suite is large enough for four people – two in the bedroom and two on the sleeper sofa. There is even enough room for a rollaway bed or crib, which means it is perfect for families traveling with kids. With the sofabed unfolded, there is no room to walk to the thermostat – a minor inconvenience that requires climbing over the bed.


The complimentary breakfast was a very pleasant surprise – unlike many free breakfasts, this Homewood Suites had a very decent selection of foods on offer. Fresh baked waffles, corn beef hash, bacon, potatoes, eggs, cereals, yogurt and more. The breakfast area and dining room were kept very clean by the hotel staff.

Final thoughts

Rooms at this Homewood Suites go for around $150 (average rate) – which is a huge bargain for a downtown hotel, especially since dinner and breakfast are included. I left very impressed and very well aware why this hotel ranks so high on Tripadvisor.

For an affordable hotel the Homewood Suites delivered everything I look for in a hotel – a good bed, good bathroom, good climate control and a clean friendly environment. The hotel is just minutes away from all the downtown shops.

Disclaimer: Hilton arranged the reservation for this review, but the opinions are 100% my own.

Hilton January: buy now save all year

The end of the holiday season doesn’t mean all the discounts are gone. So, while the big box retailers begin to reset their prices to “normal,” Hilton is extending Christmas cheer through the end of January. The hotel chain is offering cuts of up to 33 percent on weekend rates in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. The brands included are Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites (keep in mind that not all properties are participating, though).

As long as you book by the end of the month, you can secure the discounted pricing for any Friday, Saturday or Sunday stay throughout the rest of the year. So, instead of scrambling at the last minute for Valentine’s Day, birthday or anniversary presents, get it all out of the way now. This could really take the headache out of gift-giving this year.

[Photo by Sue E via Flickr]

New family friendly blog aims to make travel much easier

This week, Hilton and their Homewood Suites brand unveiled SuiteTrip.com. The site is filled with family friendly travel tips and advice, and writers come from some of the best family travel sites on the web (you’ll notice two familiar names if you regularly read Gadling). Other writers come from The Vacation Gals, Trekaroo and Travel Savvy Mom.

For me (as a dad and a writer), it is refreshing to see a hotel chain do more than just the usual “we need to be on Twitter” mentality.

The site also moves beyond trying to turn a blog into a hidden advertising portal for the hotel chain.

All the content on SuiteTrip is applicable to any hotel, and any trip. Though as someone who regularly travels with a toddler, I know from personal experience that Homewood Suites provide a good value with enough room to keep a three year old entertained.