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- A hotel room is nice but a whimsically themed suite is an experience.
- We chose the coolest, most unique hotel suites in the US designed with families in mind.
- Here's where you can sleep like SpongeBob in a Pineapple Villa or channel Eloise at the Plaza.
A plush, comfortable hotel room is a treat. But a whimsically themed, over-the-top suite is an experience, especially for families.
Picture the sense of glee when your kids realize they'll be spending the night in Spongebob's pineapple. These experiential, unique accommodations become part of the vacation rather than merely a place to sleep.
Immersive stays are gaining in popularity, too. Next spring, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will debut at Walt Disney World, a wholly themed, story-driven experience from the food to the accommodations and interactive role-playing. In the meantime, stay at the Plaza like Eloise, sleep next to Powerpuff Girls, or catch some winks in a Lego-laden locale.
I'm a travel writer who has extensively researched and written about elaborate hotels. I am always searching for elements that elevate a hotel in spectacular ways. In fact, it's the focus of my current book "Bring the Magic Home," coming out next year from Disney about themed living spaces. Here are some of the best places I've found.
Browse all the best themed hotel suites below, or jump directly to a specific area:
These are the coolest themed hotel suites for families, sorted by price from low to high.
Here's your chance to stay at the only Cartoon Network-themed hotel in the world. Located Next to the Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park in Lancaster, PA, this family-friendly hotel was once a Ramada Inn and a Continental Inn until all of its 165 rooms were completely remodeled to feature popular Cartoon Network shows.
In addition to regular rooms that feature a smattering of Cartoon Network motifs, there are bold offerings, like the colorful Powerpuff Girl Suite, and others modeled after TV shows like "Adventure Time," "Ben 10," and "Steven Universe."
Channel your favorite show through blankets, pillows, wall murals, and art. Suites have a separate bedroom with a master bath, and TVs features prominently, as you might expect: two sets of bunk beds each have their own 32-inch televisions connected to each bunk, and there is also a 75-inch television in the living room with custom Cartoon Network channels only for hotel guests. In addition, suites have a kitchenette and a dining table that sits six.
If you manage to cut down on screen time, the hotel also has large indoor and outdoor pools, a water play zone, an outdoor theater with a large movie screen, a game room, an interactive play area, and an arcade. They are also a variety of Cartoon Network-themed activities with crafts, scavenger hunts, and coloring in the Toon Room.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.Conestoga Wagons at Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging
Along with well-appointed RV spaces, yurts, and cabins, the Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging offers "glamping" experiences in Conestoga wagons that are great fun for kids learning about the Oregon Trail or American history.
The resort is located near Yosemite National Park making it a handy place to rest after a day of exploring and they come with air-conditioning, heat, a small refrigerator, microwave, a coffee pot, and aesthetic touches like wagon wheel tables and rustic wood bunk beds. While they don't have kitchens, toilets, or showers, they do have their own barbecues and picnic tables and shared bathrooms are available nearby.
For a more modern experience, retro trailers come with kitchens.
Even though most spend much of their daytime hours in nearby Yosemite, there's plenty to do at Yosemite Pines including a pool and a game area with a sand-based volleyball court, tetherball, bocce ball, and horseshoes. There is also a small playground and a petting farm with goats, bunnies, chickens, and a llama.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.Kid Cabin Suite or the Wolf Den Suite at the Great Wolf Lodge
The Great Wolf Lodge currently has 20 locations sprinkled around the country, from Anaheim in California to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. The concept of the Great Wolf Lodge is to offer an affordable family getaway featuring indoor year-round water parks, kid-centric activities, entertainment, and various dining options.
In addition to standard rooms, there are two types of themed suites, the Kid Cabin Suite and the Wolf Den Suite. Each sleeps six with a Queen bed, a sleeper sofa, and bunk beds. The Kid Cabin includes a partially enclosed sleeping area with bunks that looks like it is made of logs for a cabin within the room effect, and the Wolf Den features a cave-themed separate sleeping area. Both are roomy with rustic touches like nature art adorning the walls and coffee tables that look like a well-traveled steamer trunk.
Great Wolf Lodge's signature attraction is its huge indoor water park with slides, pools, and splash zones, and other activities include mini-gold panning, bowling, ropes courses, an arcade, story time, character appearances, family yoga, dance parties, and arts and crafts, which are all included as part of the nightly fee.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.Family suites at Disney's Art of Animation
Disney's Art of Animation resort at Walt Disney World is a popular choice for families looking to sleep within the Disney bubble on a budget. Disney's Art of Animation is one of the cheapest Disney hotels but is still very kid-focused. The resort pays homage to some of Disney and Pixar's most beloved animated films, which are represented everywhere you look, from the lobby to hotel room bathrooms.
Family suite themes at Disney's Art of Animation include "Cars," "Lion King," and "Finding Nemo." The "Cars" suite includes design elements such as a couch that looks like vintage car seats, dressers akin to a mechanic's tool chest, and a bathroom similar to a car wash. These suites are best for those who love these specific movies; otherwise, the experience might not be worth it.
The theming carries on to the pool areas, too. The Big Blue Pool, inspired by Pixar's "Finding Nemo," has over 308,527 gallons of water, making it the largest pool in Walt Disney World. Nearby, the Cozy Cone Pool is an eye-catching homage to Pixar's "Cars" with orange-cone cabanas.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.
The Roxbury at Stratton Falls and its sister property, the Roxbury Motel, offer a wide range of themed rooms and suites. Located about an hour west of Albany, NY, the Catskill lodgings are self-described as "if Alice in Wonderland married Willy Wonka and set up residence in Oz." And they are correct. The rooms and suites are wild, eclectic, and extremely elaborate.
While the Roxbury Motel has standard rooms starting at $95, families would be more comfortable booking something larger, filled with magic and fantasy, such as a Tower Cottage. Choices include the Cinderella's Gown-themed suite with an 18-foot ball gown doubling as a bedroom canopy and a giant pumpkin that leads to the bathroom, or Galileo's Gate, with an observation deck with a glass ceiling. The Crown of the Pendragons meanwhile has a secret shower, and the newest addition, The Faerie Forest, offers an extravagant two-bedroom suite with floor-to-ceiling trees, rock walls, a faux sky ceiling, and all sorts of pixie dust.
Whichever location you book you'll enjoy the perks of both, such as a pool, sauna, breakfast, and adjacent trail system that leads to a 50-foot waterfall.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.Lego Themed Suites at Legoland New York Hotel
The Legoland Hotel recently opened in New York's Hudson Valley as the last element of the huge 500-acre Legoland New York Resort. The hotel is adjacent to the Legoland amusement park making it especially convenient for families with Lego-obsessed kids.
The themed hotel suites elevate the Lego experience, too, with choices that include Kingdom, Lego Friends, Lego Ninjago, and Pirate elements. These rooms include a King bed, bunk beds, a pull-out trundle bed, and an entertainment unit. A variety of perks for little guests include a welcome treasure hunt and Lego bricks to play with in the room.
Other standout amenities include a complimentary breakfast buffet, nightly children's entertainment, character meet-and-greets, and a workshop with Lego Master Builders.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.Despicable Me Suites at Universal's Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
The Italian-inspired Loews Portofino Bay is a beautifully appointed resort that feels far from the busy, buzzing nature of Universal Orlando.
The hotel exudes an upscale vibe that parents will certainly enjoy with elaborate fountains, outdoor cafes, and serene spots to rest and relax. Though, that's not to say this isn't kid-friendly. In addition to tastefully appointed standard rooms, there are Despicable Me Kid's Suites that fans of the move will love.
These suites are large, about 800 square feet, and include a King bedroom and a separate room with two twin beds shaped to look like missiles straight out of Gru's Laboratory. The main wall features a massive mural of Minions with caution tape detailing painted along the room's edges. The parent's room, however, is much more grown-up, with an Italian vibe similar to the rest of the hotel.
The major perk of staying here is that guests enjoy Universal Orlando Resort benefits like the Universal Express Unlimited, which lets you skip the regular lines at various park attractions, as well as the "Breeze into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal's Volcano Bay," which allows you to enter those areas an hour before other guests.
Additionally, there are three pools, a bocce ball court, and numerous dining options.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.The Eloise Suite at the Plaza New York
Old-school elegance shines at the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York City. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this historic luxury hotel has been welcoming guests since 1907, including luminaries like F. Scott Fitzgerald and wife Zelda, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Beatles, and one of its most famous guests, Eloise, the gregarious heroine of Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight's beloved picture books. Eloise lived at the Plaza and fans of this fun-loving little girl will love the carefully curated Eloise Suite which brings her story to life.
The Eloise Suite, designed by the fashion designer Betsey Johnson, is an opulent show of pink and gold. A variety of Eloise touches feature prominently, from the bedspread to the wall art, and Eloise books, dolls, and clothing supplied to play dress-up. It's a one-bedroom King room but can be booked along with the adjacent Nanny Suite.
When booking the suite, guests receive thoughtful Eloise-themed perks such as tea for two at the stunning Palm Court, an Eloise gift bag, an Eloise robe, a welcome letter from Eloise, as well as sweets and goodies "chosen by Eloise" along with pink lemonade and other Eloise branded items.
It's one of many lavish suites at the Plaza, which also includes the Royal Three Bedroom Suite, the regal Fitzgerald Suite, and the Tower Suite with a 23-foot ceiling.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.The Adventureland Suite at the Disneyland Hotel
The Disneyland Hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of both Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure. It is the first-ever Disney hotel and gives off a retro vibe that is attractive to all ages, from the Monorail-themed waterslide to the Alice in Wonderland teacup seats in the lobby.
The hotel is comprised of three towers; one is home to a collection of Signature Suites, including a Fairy Tale Suite, a Big Thunder Suite, a Mickey Mouse Penthouse, and a Pirates of the Caribbean Suite. But one of the most inviting is the immersive Adventureland Suite.
The main living area of the Adventureland Suite is evocative of the study of a world traveler with library walls, a plush daybed, fireplace, rich woods, velvet upholstery, elephant lamps, and world globes.
The master bedroom features a canopy bed, a deep leather club chair, ornate rugs, and a claw foot tub. There is also a shower rock grotto with a foot spa, steam and rain showers, and sound effects that make it feel as if you are bathing in a tropical jungle.
Kids have their own room on the other side of the suite, designed to look like a safari tent and accented by art from the Jungle Cruise.
If you book this room, you'll want to maximize your time there. But if you do leave the suite, there is plenty to do. Disneyland and California Adventure are a short walk away, and the Disneyland Hotel's pool features a retro monorail waterslide, a splash zone for kids, and lots of lounge chairs. Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar is wildly popular for its tropical tiki drinks.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.The Pineapple Suite at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
Located 25 miles north of Punta Cana Airport, adjacent to Uvero Alto Beach, Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, is a family resort destination for fans of the network.
While all of the suites are well-appointed, the Pineapple Villa is in a class of its own. The 2,292 square foot loft-style villa boasts two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a pull-out sofa bed, private gardens, a private infinity pool, and loads of SpongeBob SquarePants references.
Enter through a giant pineapple to discover beachy decor with sea-inspired details, cheerful hues, and all the creature comforts you'd expect from a luxury suite. The villa comes with a private butler to take care of any needs, from food to laundry.
This sprawling resort is all-inclusive, and there are 10 restaurants, a water park that includes signature green slime, a lazy river, and swim-up bar. Kids can visit Club Nick with a variety of crafts and activities, and Nickelodeon characters like Dora and Boots, Shimmer and Shine, Skye from PAW Patrol, and SpongeBob SquarePants make regular appearances.
COVID-19 procedures are available here.FAQ: Themed hotel suites
What state has the most options for family theme suites?
Florida is the state with the most options from our list, including the Despicable Me Suites at Universal's Loews Portofino Bay and the family suites at Disney's Art of Animation. There are also other options like the Princess and the Frog rooms at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside or the Legoland Hotel in Orlando.
How big of a family can sleep in these suites?
Most of the suites on this list can sleep four, but there are a couple of exceptions. The Eloise Suite at the Plaza only has a king-size bed, unless you add on the Nanny Suite.
A few can sleep more than four like the Pineapple Villa at Nickelodeon Hotel, the Great Wolf Lodge's suites, and the family suites at the Art of Animation can sleep six. The Adventureland Suite at Disneyland can sleep five.
Which of these theme hotels are best for couples?
While most of these hotels, such as Great Wolf Lodge and Legoland Hotel, are distinctly designed for kids, there are a few that would make for a romantic getaway, too. The Roxbury and the Adventureland Suite at the Disneyland Hotel are both locations well-suited to a whimsical honeymoon or romantic trip.
Is it safe to stay in hotels?
At this time, the CDC states that domestic travel is safe if you are fully vaccinated. While the vaccination rates vary by location, the unvaccinated should continue to take extra precautions, including those 12 and under who aren't yet able to be vaccinated.
It is advisable that all travelers should continue to follow the CDC and local guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing, and using hand sanitizing.
All of the hotels that we've included in this list have cleaning protocols for the guest room and the public spaces to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.More of the most unique hotels