You know you’re on a family vacation when you accidentally attempt to brush your teeth with Desitin in the morning (diaper rash cream). That was on Saturday morning in the master bath of my lovely duplex loft suite at the Hotel Monaco-Alexandria. My toothbrush was ruined but luckily I had packed two. Despite the toothpaste mix-up, our first road trip with baby Ella was amazing. We went back to my hometown in Maryland to visit friends and family, but stayed in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.
Initially, I was worried about taking Ella on a 5-hour car ride at 11 months, so I bought one of those attachable carseat toys. LIFE SAFER (until we got stuck in traffic on the way home and she kicked it off her seat, LOL bad temper…). We also attached it to her stroller and to her highchair at restaurants. #Genius.
From highway rest stops to restaurants, multiple times I heard from children, “Look, it’s a baby!” Confused, I looked around and then realized they were pointing at Ella! I never realized kids liked babies so much. Maybe I was like that too but I don’t remember. I am so used to children in NYC and my town who are not fazed by anything–a baby gorilla in a clown outfit could walk by them and they would just yawn and turn their attention back to their iPad.
That brings me to an odd encounter at The Majestic restaurant in Old Town (BTW, this place has their original, working 25 cent phone booth!) where a male waiter wouldn’t stop looking at Ella. Granted, she was staring him down like she does with EVERY new person she encounters, so it often goads people to react but usually men smile and then walk away. Not this one…
“Hi there!” he said. “You’re cute. How are you?” Ella smiled back while sitting in her highchair.
He continued, “I can’t stop looking at you!” and then he walked off to take care of tables. Minutes later, he returned and started talking again, “You are just too cute. Do you want a job here? How about a hostess? Yes? You can work at the front. How much are you per hour? $10?” Ella didn’t respond because she can’t talk yet.
“Okay, $15? No? Wow, you’re tough. Okay $20 an hour! I better stop talking to you now. This is probably starting to sound inappropriate! You’re just so cute! I can’t stop staring at you!”
Chris was getting annoyed and I was thinking, um…yes…please stop. People are going to assume you’re asking her rate for sexual favors, which wouldn’t bode well for your future career! It reminded me of when we interviewed a potential nanny who said she wanted to “put Ella in her purse”. Anyway, it’s better than people getting annoyed that you have a baby in tow at a nice restaurant, right?
Great Family-Friendly Hotel
Finally, I must say that we are forever spoiled now for all future family vacays. Having Ella sleep downstairs in the pack and play (borrowed from hotel) on the first floor of our duplex Monaco Loft Suite while we slept upstairs was AWESOME. When we entered our room, they had the cutest chalkboard with a snack and a special note for Ella. Chris and I enjoyed the deep soaking Fuji tub with lavender bath salts each evening, and I even had time for yoga in the AM before leaving Sunday (each room comes with a yoga mat and you can ask for a yoga turndown service!). Although I couldn’t drink any wine, I appreciated their nightly happy hour and the spirits menu at their restaurant Jackson 20 was impressive–I love old fashioned cocktails!
Many people don’t think of Kimpton Hotels as family-friendly, but some really are! As soon as they saw that I was pregnant and had Ella with me, they asked if I needed an extra fridge in my room. Their heated pool, open year-round, hosts dive-in movie nights and the gym has hula hoops which gets some cool points. No one freaked out at Jackson 20 when they saw our baby in tow (or the aftermath of her dinner on the floor!). Lastly, it’s nice to stay in a hotel that has a sophisticated decor with your kids. Their global bazaar meets civil war era decor with antique sconces and asian-inspired furniture is fun to be around. See photos from my trip and exploring Old Town, Alexandria below!