- My family stayed one night at the super-exclusive Cliff House hotel in York, Maine.
- In low season, rooms go for $500 and up; in the summer, rooms can cost thousands of dollars.
- I was surprised at how kid-friendly and accommodating the hotel was.
Even though we’ve been living in Maine for years now, we’ve done very little to explore our home state. Our kids are 4, 2, and 2, and because of COVID, we had been a bit shy about venturing into the world. Having twins also makes every outing more complicated and requires so much planning, we’re sometimes easily discouraged to try somewhere new.
But I’m determined to make memories with the kids after two years of missing out, so I took my whole family to the Cliff House Hotel in Cape Neddick, Maine. When I told our close friends we were going, their reaction was “you’re not bringing the kids, right?,” because the hotel is known for its luxurious accommodations and activities. We don’t have any family to watch them, so we really had no option.
I admit I was a bit concerned that we were ruining a potentially fantastic hotel stay by bringing three toddlers, but as soon as we arrived, my fears were put at ease: It turns out this fancy hotel is incredibly kid-friendly. Because of that, we all had a blast.
The hotel is impressive
As soon as we got out of the car, my kids were ready to explore and run around, and my anxiety kicked in because I didn’t want to disturb those who were relaxing without kids.
Almost immediately — as if they could sense my nerves — the staff gave goodie bags to all three kids and showed them a map of all the things we could explore on the grounds. This made me feel better; we were clearly not the first ones to bring toddlers here, and everyone was so accommodating.
To get to our room we had to walk across the hotel grounds. The buildings sit on top of a cliff, hence the name, and the views are spectacular. There are several terraces — some connected to restaurants, others near the hotel’s grab-and-go cafe — where people can eat, and one has a very popular hot tub that was always occupied while we were there.
The history of the hotel is also interesting: It was opened in 1872 by Elsie Jane, a mother of seven, who charged $6 a week per person, including all meals. It quickly became a favorite in Maine, until World War II shut the hotel down so it could be used as a military base to keep 24-hour watch for Nazi submarines. It has since been impeccably remodeled, with 186 guest rooms and 40 suites.
It is very kid-friendly
When we arrived at our suite, we found it to be very spacious. It had a king-size bed for the adults and a separate room with bunk beds for the kids. We requested a pack-and-play from the front desk, which was delivered within 15 minutes of our arrival at the room. Our room had ocean views, which kept the kids entertained as they watched the waves crash against the rocks and the seagulls dive for fish, while we unpacked.
Our bed was so comfortable and smelled incredible — I wanted to never leave it. I probably had my best night’s sleep in years. I was told by everyone who knew we were going to try out the hotel’s bathrobes, which I now highly recommend also. I’ve never felt anything so soft in my life, and I want to buy one for home.
There are several restaurants in the hotel. We opted for Nubbs for dinner because it seemed like the most casual option, and with its big screens and loud music, we hoped that would muffle the sound of our kids in case they screamed. That didn’t happen, as they were engaged with their goodie bags. The food was so delicious, they each ate an entire meal — which toddler parents know can be rare. We also weren’t the only parents of little kids in the restaurant, which gave me extra peace of mind.
For breakfast the next morning, we went to the Tiller, which is definitely fancier. I felt like we had made a terrible mistake when we walked into a beautifully carpeted room with fabric chairs. The server quickly whipped out kids’ menus with crayons, which kept them entertained while we waited (only a short time) for our food. The kids’ pancakes were so delicious, I almost wished I had ordered from their menu.
There are tons of things to do in the hotel
While it’s usually a popular summer destination, there were still plenty of things to do, and we had a blast during our stay. On our first night after dinner, we sat with the kids around a firepit that we had all to ourselves and then star-gazed in hammocks.
After breakfast, we voted for our favorite carved pumpkins, which the staff had created days prior, and it kept the kids intrigued for a good 30 minutes. After that, we went swimming in the indoor pool, which we had to ourselves.
Then we found there was a crafters’ market, hosted by Makers of the US, in the hotel ballroom, which happens once a year. We basically did all of our holiday shopping without even planning it. This was the only activity that overwhelmed the kids a bit, because they wanted to touch everything and buy all the stuffies. There were also Halloween movies playing throughout the day, painting classes for all ages, and adult-only activities like yoga.
We ended our stay by eating lunch outside, taking in the view, enjoying the ocean breeze, and trying to make sure the seagulls didn’t steal our food. And by the way, if they do take your sandwich, the hotel fully comps you another meal.