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Enjoy a taste of travel without the stress


Family check-in might not be this chill, but you get the gistFamily check-in might not be this chill, but you get the gist — Photo courtesy of Library Hotel Collection

When I was younger, I used to think bravery was something akin to jumping out of an airplane. Now I know I was wrong.

Bravery is traveling with a one- and a three-year-old.

I need to inform you that I have an absolutely lovely family. There are no other people on the planet I would rather be quarantined with, but COVID has made my little ones a little too used to the comforts of home. As a travel writer, I used to be itchy for a new location and a new story.

Now, I just needed to get out of my own house.

As variants swarm, travel still feels uncomfortable at best and downright scary at worst. How could I scratch my must-leave-the-house itch while remaining safe?

Enter the hotel staycation.

If you’re anything like me, prior to 2020, the hotel was merely a resting place and dumping ground. The city in which the hotel resided was what mattered. The sights. The people.

In 2021, it is far more common to want little to do with crowds.

So I packed up my boys, got the car loaded with toys and went to Hotel X in Toronto. I arrived to a beautiful lobby that appeared clean enough for my one-year-old to crawl on the ground while I fumbled for my credit card.

I swear, I used to be cool. I used to not have stains on my shirt at nice hotels. But here we were.

Hotel X is a perfect location for a staycation, even in pandemic times. It isn’t too bustling, it isn’t right in the heart of the city, but is just close enough to the Big Smoke that you can gaze out of your floor-to-ceiling windows at a beautiful urban view. Rooms are spacious, suites more so if you can hack it, and bathtubs are deep enough to warrant fun for the whole family.

Views like this are very typical at Hotel XViews like this are very typical at Hotel X — Photo courtesy of Library Hotel Collection

The room service is a pretty small menu and several attempts informed me that there was no sense of urgency to get the meal to our room (over an hour and a half to get a pizza and sandwich). Perhaps urgency is very 2019, but anyone with small children understands the need for plain pasta – stat. We became acquainted with Toronto’s coolest restaurants through meal delivery apps and had them delivered to the front desk. Easy peasy (and faster than that room service).

The pool of your – and your kids' – dreamsThe pool of your – and your kids’ – dreams — Photo courtesy of Library Hotel Collection

The rooftop pool has a view of the city that could inspire Darren Star to write a Canadian spinoff of “Sex and the City.” Two-hour bookings can be made in advance to secure a spot with lots of social distancing. The lounge chairs feel like they’re kissing the sky; gloriously spacious after months of being told how small we need to make our lives.

The earlier hours are designed for parents who need to contain childhood energy. It seemed to be all mom and dad staycationers the morning we attended. My kids exhausted themselves in their water wings. My husband sat on the lounge chair, dreaming of a day where he could have free time.

Kids in adorable bathrobes? CheckKids in adorable bathrobes? Check — Photo courtesy of Library Hotel Collection

We rented a video game console to play in the room. You can also rent fitness equipment (or both, if you are the kind of well-rounded person we all aspire to be). There are plush robes and slippers for the kiddos. Cue the “Awww” and prepare to send the grandparents a photo.

We booked the Screening Room to watch Disney Plus, and it was the first time my three-year-old had ever sat in a darkened movie theater. (“Why is it so dark?” he screamed, making me grateful that we were indeed alone.) We played hide-and-go-seek in the business center. We raced cars in the hotel room. We read books on lounges. Hotel X did the job. It was, for one weekend, enough to feel like we had received a taste of the different.

Travel is different now. It will be for awhile. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a true break from all of the headlines and the to-dos and the frustrations. We can find a way to get a taste of travel, until we are ready to dip our toes into more.

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