Ryan and I have been to Southern California together, just the two of us, many times. But we’ve never taken the kids before (thank you, grandparents), until now. For our big family vacation this summer, we decided on a Disneyland focus with some other Cali experiences sprinkled in. I was not about to fly all the way to Los Angeles from Houston and ignore my favorite spots. I mean, yay for Disneyland, but come on. There’s so much to see in SoCal. I wanted to squeeze in as much as possible.
So we set off on a Saturday morning with 4 suitcases, 2 backpacks and 1 goal – to have a safe, happy trip as a family.
When we arrived in L.A. our first stop was at the car rental pick-up. In past trips we used a smaller car rental company. So the super duper long line at one of the big name places wasn’t something we were used to. But we lined up, handled business and picked up our Jeep Wrangler. One of the things I talked about in my How to Travel Fabulously post was having fun with transportation. We’ve never owned or driven a Jeep Wrangler before. It was big enough for all 4 of us. And it was fun. Perfect.
So it was now time to make the drive from LAX to Hollywood. And if you know anything about Los Angeles traffic, you know that it can take 60+ minutes to drive just 20 miles sometimes. It’s pretty wild. But again, we loaded up and handled business. When we arrived in Hollywood the first thing we noticed was ALL THE PEOPLE. Seriously – it seemed like all of the damn people in the world were there. Our past experiences, even at The Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is a very touristy area, were not near as crowded as this. But we weren’t going to be there for long, so no biggie. We had a tasty lunch at Mel’s Drive-In Diner, where they served Rowdy’s burger in a box that looked like an old-fashioned car, the curly fries were delicious and there was a pic of Lindsay Lohan eating there on the wall beside us. It’s a casual, kid-friendly spot with some Hollywood history, therefore was the perfect choice for us. After lunch it was time to take the kids to walk The Boulevard. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend spending lots of time on Hollywood Boulevard with children. But if you hold hands tight, ignore the funky dudes selling random stuff and stay between The Roosevelt Hotel and Highland, you’re good to go. 😉 You’ll see our stroll down The Hollywood Walk of Fame in the VLOG Episode called Family Trip to Cali Part 1 on my YouTube channel here.
When we’d had enough Hollywood (about 15 minutes into our walk – ha!), we went back to the Jeep and drove down Sunset to Beverly Hills. This allowed us to cruise The Sunset Strip with the kids, an adventure they didn’t understand or appreciate, but their parents did, so whatevs.
If you love the movie Troop Beverly Hills as much as I do, then you too may have dreamt of staying at The Beverly Hills Hotel back when you were just a kid (“Nefler, bungalow 4..”). My obsession with The Pink Palace continued on into adulthood and was only enhanced when Ryan and I had dinner at The Polo Lounge (the hotel’s main restaurant) back in 2005. I added staying there to my bucket list at that moment, and guess what? 13 years later…. IT HAPPENED. We rolled up to the iconic hotel on Sunset Boulevard on Saturday afternoon after a long day of traveling and walking The Boulevard 🙂 with 2 kiddos. We all walked up the red carpet entry into the lovely front lobby where a gentleman greeted me by my name (either they have magical psychic powers or that valet got the word to the staff inside very quickly that I had arrived). The staff at the front desk, including Jose and Andrew, were all very helpful. And when they realized that we would have a bit of a wait for our room to be ready, they not only offered to charge my phone for me, they also gave the kiddos VIP cards for them to get free drinks at the hotel any time they damn well pleased. Show my kids a cool, colorful plastic card that gets them free apple juice and you’ve hit the jackpot. So we explored some of the hotel then headed downstairs to The Fountain Coffee Room, which is a cozy little diner serving up delicious eats… and apple juice. After our juice break we were greeted by a friendly staff member named Brian. His conversation was just in time, because the kids were just starting to get antsy. He chatted with us and talked some about his 20+ years working at the hotel. I’m not quite sure what his official job is at the hotel. But if it’s talking to guests and making them feel welcome, he does amazing work. And just as that nice visit was ending, our room was ready.
Jose led us outside, through some of the 6 acres of lush gardens, to our room. It was cool and quiet and I could easily hear birds singing every step of the way. We passed a trickling fountain and walked up to a building that looked more like an apartment building than a regular hotel. I could already tell that this was not the standard room I had booked. And when we walked in, my assumption was confirmed. We had been upgraded to a bungalow suite, and boyyy was it sweet. It had a front patio with 2 chairs and a table, which is a total lifesaver when you’re traveling with kids (we like to head outside for a drink or two after the kids go to sleep). And the suite itself was larger than and much nicer than mine and Ryan’s first apartment. The spacious living room had plenty of seating and a fireplace. The kitchenette was stocked with dishes and a not-so-miniature mini bar. The bedroom was spacious with a comfy king-sized bed and an extra bed rolled in for the kiddos. Inside the lovely bathroom was a fancy toilet that would open automatically, flush automatically and even clean you up. The kids were fascinated by the TV mounted inside the bathroom mirror. And they even included 2 small robes that were the perfect sizes for Rowdy and Romy to lounge in.
Speaking of thoughtful gestures, the hotel gifted the kids with huge chocolate chip cookies and personalized notes written in chocolate syrup on their plates. And they gifted Ryan with a bottle of Maker’s Mark (he loves Kentucky bourbon) for Father’s Day. And if all of that wasn’t enough, just minutes after we got into our room a plate of treats was delivered that included a chocolate with part of my logo printed on it. You guys, when you splurge on the amazing hotels amazing service comes along with it. The facilities are absolutely wonderful, of course. But nothing can compare to being treated like you are truly a welcomed and special guest. I run several businesses, therefore I very much appreciate the effort and thought it takes to add special touches to things. And The Beverly Hills Hotel knows alllll about special touches.
Before we knew it, it was time to get dressed for our dinner at longtime Hollywood hotspot, The Polo Lounge, which is located right there in the hotel. Rowdy and Romy were excited about having a “fancy dinner” with Mommy and Daddy, and we were excited, too. We requested a table outside. Kids usually like eating outdoors. And even though I’m more of an indoors controlled environment type of gal, “outdoors” at The Beverly Hills Hotel isn’t your typical patio experience. Sure, you’re technically outside. But it doesn’t feel like it. The weather was cool and amazing. The decor is calming and lovely. And our booth was tucked back enough to give us a little bit of privacy. I was so happy to be back there after 13 years. And to have my kids with me made it even sweeter. We got the kids situated with some crayons, chose our food, got a bottle of wine and settled in for a nice family dinner. Look, dinner at The Polo Lounge isn’t practical for a family of four. With kids meals at $20 each and entrees at double that, you’re going to drop some cash, for sure. Plus, you certainly want to indulge in their famous soufflé, which is also $20. But, practical or not, it’s an absolutely lovely experience. You’re not just paying for the food itself. You’re paying for the excellent service (thank you, Douglas), the beautiful atmosphere and the magical vibe you feel when you think of all of the incredible Old Hollywood talents that have dined and signed deals there. Even though I think it’s totally worth the splurge, most of us grown-ups would prefer to splurge with food and drinks on ourselves than on our young kids that certainly won’t appreciate it as much. So here’s a little money saving tip if you’re dining there with a couple of young kiddos. First of all, they do serve a complimentary bread basket. So that’s gonna help a lot. Also, I noticed that the kids pizza that Rowdy ordered was a pretty good size. If your kids are little, you could probably get away with them sharing it and having some carbs from the bread basket. In our case, I didn’t even order my own meal, because I was trying to be mindful of calories when I could. So I ended up nibbling on some of Romy’s fries and also sharing some of Ryan’s fried chicken meal (which was delicious). That’s actually a good way to save on any travel dining experience with a family of four – order 2 kid meals and 1 grown-up meal and share. Another good reason to share when you’re traveling is that most of the time, you don’t have a place to take leftovers back to. So if you feel like it might be too much food to order a full meal for each person, don’t do it. Share meals and eat up every last bite so that nothing is wasted. Anyway, we ended our meal with the chocolate soufflé, which was so, so good. Then we set out on the short walk back to our room.
After we got the kiddos tucked into bed, we headed out to the porch for drinks. As I mentioned before, Ryan and I love a hotel room with an outdoor sitting area, especially when we’re with the kids. In this case, we also had a living room to go to, of course. But most of the time, all four of us are in one hotel room, and a hotel balcony is the perfect place for us to hang out after we get them to bed. But the cooler than normal weather outside was calling us. So we obviously chose the porch instead of the living room. It was so peaceful and perfect.
Sunday morning arrived. It was Father’s Day, and one of the first things I said to Ryan was that The BHH is a great place to wake up at on a special day. We gave him lots of love and a card and then I, of course, ordered room service. Y’all knowwww I love me some room service. That’s another detail you can watch on the VLOG episode about this part of our trip. You’ll see the kids watching the server set everything up. They love room service, too. I’m so proud. 🙂
Since we were going to be heading down to Disneyland and enduring more traffic and crowds after check-out that day, we decided to take it slow and hang out in our suite for the rest of the morning. The kids played and watched cartoons while Ryan and I sipped coffee and checked emails. Don’t you wish every morning started that way? Life goals.
Our short time at The Pink Palace was so great that none of us wanted to leave. In fact, soon after our arrival Rowdy said he wanted to live there. Is he my child or what? And when your kids aren’t even anxious to leave in order to get to Disneyland, you know its a great hotel. But we reluctantly packed our bags up, stopped by the gift shop where I got a cute pink hat, took some more pictures all over the property and loaded back up in the Jeep. In about 30 hours time we went from Houston to Hollywood to Beverly Hills. That’s what I call spending your time wisely! Experiences don’t always have to be lengthy to be special.
Goodbye, Pink Palace. I’ll be back.
Remember to watch my VLOG episode dedicated to this portion of our trip on my YouTube channel here. And please SUBSCRIBE to my channel!
Thanks again to the entire staff of The Beverly Hills Hotel for your excellent service, including those previously mentioned, plus Niki Nguyen and Brittany Williams.