My husband and I first visited the (then Delta) Chelsea during our honeymoon. Since then we’ve stayed there many times over the years, but this was our first time staying with kids in tow. The Eaton Chelsea‘s tagline is Toronto’s Family Fun Headquarters and it’s spot on. It is one of the most family friendly places I have ever set foot in. For the moment we walked in the door our girls were made to feel welcome. From the kid check-in station at the front desk to the servers at the in-house restaurant, my children were consistently treated with patience, courtesy and respect.
Above and beyond that, there were so many fun (and free!) things for the girls to do on site! We stayed over the March Break so “Camp Chelsea” was in full swing, complete with trivia contests, bingo, movie night, face painting, a giant bouncy castle, and more. That’s just the stuff we found time to check out personally. Looking at the itinerary for the week I saw times outlined for everything from segway rides to magician shows.
My children’s favourite part was the room with the humongous inflated bouncy play area. In the same oversized conference room a table full of board games was laid out, Just Dance was playing on the big screen, and two ping pong tables were set up. There were also plenty of chairs peppered throughout the space for parents or pooped out kids to sit down. And this was just one room out of several, basically, they had an entire floor of the hotel dedicated to family activities.
We also checked out the Kids Centre. This is a permanent space located just outside of the family pool area. It reminded me of a daycare, or one of those Ontario Early Years drop-in centres. It was open and spacious, with plenty of different types of toys to play with. Parents are welcome to bring their kids to the centre and stay with them while they play, or for a small fee you can drop off for baby-sitting services (must be potty trained, ages three and up). Over March Break, and during the summer vacation, this is where the hotel’s day camp is held.
Just across the hallway from the Kids Centre, we discovered the Club 33 Teen Lounge. My husband’s eyes lit up when he saw this room full of pool tables, air hockey, foosball and arcade games. While he was a bit disappointed when I convinced him it was a “for teens only” spot, it sure did look like a fun space for the intended crowd.
In between family fun time we enjoyed downtime in our room. The Chelsea offers a “Family Fun Suite”, which is a two bedroom suite where the second bedroom is a child friendly space with bunkbeds. I think this is such an awesome concept and I have been day dreaming about staying in one of these suites since a first noticed them on the Chelsea website, well over a year ago now. However, the hotel is undergoing renovations so all of the family suites were either closed for remodelling or booked for March break. So sad, right?
So instead we stayed in two room suite where the second room was a business meeting space. The “board room” table made a great breakfast spot for my girls, where they enjoyed sitting and watching Treehouse while snacking on granola bars or dry cereal. The pull out sofa made a cozy separate sleeping area for them, leaving the “regular” hotel room space as our adults only sanctuary. Snuggle down and watch Food network until midnight while the kids sleep in the other room? Yes, please!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Eaton Chelsea is perfectly situated for exploring downtown Toronto. If you somehow feel compelled to actually leave the hotel you’ll find you’re within walking distance of dozens of great places to eat and shop. It’s also just a short walk to the nearest public bus stop or subway station, making all of the downtown core accessible within minutes.
During our stay, we visited both Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the Ontario Science Centre. For the Science Centre we took our car. While access via public transit was an option we opted for the 15 minute car ride and paying to park, vs paying to get a family of four on to a public bus and riding for 40 minutes with two young antsy kids. Paying for parking worked out to a few dollars less than taking the bus would have. If our car wasn’t available public transit would have been a perfectly reasonable option, with the nearest stop close by.
For Ripley’s we opted to take the subway. Riding the subway and walking through Union station was a treat for the kids in and off itself. Parking for Ripley’s would have cost a few dollars more than taking public transit and we would have missed out on the fun subway ride (not just for the kids’ sake, I actually enjoy having a chance to take the subway now and then). We were able to get advance tickets for Ripley’s by purchasing them at a 15% discount from the hotel concierge. This not only saved us a few bucks (around $15 saved, for our family of four) but also allowed us to skip the purchase line upon arrival. (Keep in mind the Eaton Chelsea has a long list of attraction partners that they offer discounted tickets for, Ripley’s and the Science Centre are just the tip of the iceberg.)
Overall, I found the Eaton Chelsea to be an amazingly family friendly spot. I have stayed there in the past, it’s one of my favourite hotels, so I expected it to be good but again and again I was surprised by just how darn good it was. When my kids are being catered to and having a good time, then I can relax and have a good time. That’s priceless.
Disclosure: My family was invited for a two night stay as guests of the Eaton Chelsea. As always my words and opinions are my own.