We’re mid-way through summer, and families across the country are embarking on new adventures while others are returning. Regardless of where you are going, or what type of adventure you are on, where you stay is, in my mind, one of the most important decisions you can make ahead of time.
Recently, my family took a little road trip up to Seattle, which is about a 3-hour drive from where we live in Portland, Oregon (although it often takes 4-5 hours to get there, thanks to traffic). We’ve stayed at hotels right in the heart of the city before, but because we wanted to do a little family sightseeing in Seattle as well as a little wine tasting in Woodinville, Washington, we were intrigued by the idea of staying somewhere in-between. The Hyatt Regency Bellevue is a lovely upscale hotel located in Bellevue, Washington (15-20 minutes outside of Seattle) that offers families a manageable middle ground: it’s a city hotel that typically caters to business travelers (they host numerous conventions, conferences, and business meetings), but also offers some wonderful amenities for families.
Rooms & Suites
The Hyatt Regency Bellevue also offers a variety room sizes and suites. Standard rooms usually average $159 per night. We stayed in a Studio Suite (average rate: $209 per night), which is perfect for families of four. The room has a bedroom that contains a standard bed and a sliding door with wood slits offers some privacy, splitting the bedroom and the main sitting room, which contains a pull-out bed. The furnishings were upscale without being too stuffy. There was enough space for our two kids (ages 6 and 9) to roam about and for us to lounge. The bathroom was a nice size, although in the suite we stayed in, there was minimal countertop space. We had ample surface space throughout the rest of the suite, however, including a little alcove with a large mirror and vanity desk.
The Hyatt Regency Bellevue just started a new Kids’ Passport program. The booklet contains fun menu items available at some of the on-site hotel restaurants, some fun local family spots, a list of the games and movies available at the front desk for checkout, and coloring pages. Inside the passport is a section with several areas of the hotel listed and the kids can visit those sections and have hotel staff either sign, stamp, or leave a sticker on the passport.
It’s a fun activity to keep the kids busy and excited, and allows families to explore to hotel. In the end, once kids have completed all or most of the passport, they can turn it in to the front desk for a prize.
Our kids were so excited about the HUGE selection of awesome DVDs and games the hotel had on hand that families could check out. If you have a family movie night like we do that is part of your weekly routine, it’s nice to be able to give the kids a sense of the familiar by continuing the routine while traveling. Sometimes at hotels, we’re pretty disappointed in the DVD selection, but not at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Our kids were highly impressed with the movie selection! We were also impressed by the variety of board games available for families. We enjoyed a few rounds of Connect Four.
Swimming pools are a top priority for hotels for my kids, and they were pretty happy with the pool at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Families will love that the pool actually has kids’ pool toys, such as kick boards and pool noodles, on hand for the kids to use. The only downfall is the location of the pool: you have to walk through the hotel to the connecting building, past conference rooms (wave to the business people in suits) in order to get to the pool and fitness room. However, they do have full locker rooms with shower, lockers, and changing areas right next to the pool and fitness room, so you can get dressed and dry off before heading back to your room.
Food, as you may know by reading this blog, is a top priority for me and my family in choosing a hotel. We usually will not stay in a hotel that does not offer an onsite restaurant, or at the very least, room service from a neighboring restaurant or a full hot breakfast. When you’re traveling with kids, sometimes it’s a hassle to try to figure out where to eat, how to get there, and then take the time to travel to and from the restaurant. This is where hotels that typically cater to business people tend to shine. The Hyatt Regency Bellevue offers several on-site restaurant options, has a Tully’s Coffee in the lobby (try the Intense Dark Chocolate Mocha — it’s amazing!), excellent room service options, and is perfectly situated next to several dozen amazing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late dining spots all within a block or two.
We had the pleasure of being Chef Jon Bishop ‘s guest for breakfast at Eques one morning during our stay, and were delighted at the breakfast and brunch menu items. The restaurant even has a large area to the side where two televisions played Saturday morning cartoons while we were there.
The buffet options feature traditional breakfast items such as bacon, sausage, eggs, bagels, toast, and so on, as well as fresh local flavors such as the gorgeous smoked salmon tray (pictured below, left).
My breakfast pick at Eques is the Dungeness Crab Benedict (pictured below, right), which is served over a crunchy-on-the-outside/tender-and-flaky-on-the-inside black pepper and chive buttermilk biscuit instead of the traditional English muffin, and topped with a sweet pepper jelly that brings the whole dish together so wonderfully. The biscuit substitution is an excellent choice, in my opinion, and I will be trying that the next time I make eggs benedict at home!
Another popular favorite is a stack of tiramisu pancakes (featured below, left). That’s right: tiramisu pancakes! Topped with chocolate shavings and served with chocolate covered espresso beans, the rich batter of the pancakes and the sweetness of the mascarpone cream truly make this an indulgent dessert-for-breakfast start to your day.
Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed the seasonal French toast offering while we were there (pictured below, right), which was made with Brioche toast cooked perfectly crunchy on the outside and topped with a rich, sweet blueberry compote. I could have eaten a huge plate of that french toast.
We’re not done yet, fellow travelers. This is a family show, and of course, the Hyatt Regency Bellevue offers a little something special for our youngest adventurers: Princess Pancakes (pictured below, left) and Superman Pancakes (pictured below, right). Filled with chocolate chips and topped with a confetti of slightly sweet yummy little treat toppings, these pancakes are adorable and delicious for kids of all ages.
For grown-ups, the hotel offers a good selection of spa services, reliable WiFi, free weekend parking in the hotel garage, valet parking, and professional, friendly staff who are always smiling and willing to answer your questions and help you in any way they can. There is an airport ticket computer right next to the front desk so you can check into your flights from the hotel, and they also make check-out easy with computerized terminals available at the concierge desk.
I think the location, price, service, and amenities that the Hyatt Regency Bellevue has to offer make it an excellent option for families traveling. One thing I personally loved about our stay was that we actually felt like we were on vacation at the hotel: it’s quiet, serene, calming, even though it’s right in the middle of bustling shops, businesses (Microsoft has a building across the street), and restaurants. It was upscale enough to make us adults feel like we were lounging in the lap of luxury, and fun and exciting enough for our kids to feel extra special and totally at home too. If you’re traveling anywhere within a 20 minute drive from Bellevue (Seattle & Woodinville, which is wine country, are both around 15-minutes away), I’d suggest checking out the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Tell them Urban Bliss Life sent you, and then immediately make reservations at Eques for breakfast. You won’t regret it.
What do you look for in a family hotel have you and your family been on this summer?
Disclosure: Thanks to the Hyatt Regency Bellevue for treating my family to a wonderful hotel experience during our road trip. All opinions are my own.