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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Prior to the pandemic, I stayed in at least one hotel every month, and as an avid travel writer, I never thought that my days of slipping under those crisp hotel sheets were limited.

There was the Waldorf Astoria in Dubai, where my porter filled my bathtub with hot water and bath salts to ease my jet lag. And there was the Limelight Hotel in Snowmass, Colorado, where the mountain was so close to my room that when I forgot my gloves, I simply popped back inside the hotel to grab them. And the coffee at The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery was so rich and delicious that I’d travel all the way back to New Orleans just to snag one more cup.
But when it had been 6 long months without room service, sans bustling hotel lobbies filled with fresh-cut flowers, without those amazing Sunday hotel buffet breakfasts . . . when I decided that I just must book myself into a hotel or I’d go crazy.

After hearing that the Peninsula Chicago Hotel had just hired a hygiene manager to take even more COVID precautions, I packed my bags and drove 20 minutes from my house to the hotel for a quick staycation.

The Peninsula has long been one of my favorite hotel brands, and I’ve always felt like they go above and beyond when it comes to just about everything. There were hand sanitizers throughout the hotel, and they smelled delish. In our suite, there were two new face masks for myself and my husband, along with two child-sized masks for our children. There were to-go hand sanitizers and hand wipes and the rooms were cleaner than my home has ever been.

Photo courtesy of the Peninsula

ALSO: Reward yourself with a hotel stay and we’ll reward you with Orbucks, good toward your next trip!

The Peninsula’s pool is our favorite amenity, and while it was still open, they made adjustments for COVID, which I appreciated. It was open twice each day for families, and we had to reserve our time in advance. There were two other families in the pool with us, and we were instructed to stay in our lanes. Literally: We each had our own lane. Instead of the tea, coffee and banana chips that were usually sitting in the pool and spa area, there were individual bottles of water.

Yes, I was aware that we were in the middle of a pandemic (the face masks that adorned every single person were a dead giveaway), but the hotel was still a hotel and it was just as luxurious as ever. I was instructed to let the housekeeping staff know when I’d like my room cleaned so that we’d never physically cross paths—and when I did, I came back to a room that was so spotless, I let my 8-year-old lie on the rug to play (I’m usually too much of a germaphobe for that).
New bathroom amenities made me smile, and they even put a few bottles of distilled water next to my husband’s sleep apnea machine when they spotted it. We felt utterly spoiled—and isn’t that what staying at a hotel is all about?

Oh, and there’s also the travel part. While we cut out flights to be extra cautious, we asked the Peninsula to arrange a local itinerary for us, complete with meals. They worked with Choose Chicago, the marketing team for the city of Chicago, to snag us reservations at Pacific Standard Time, Pizzeria Portofino and The Dearborn (make sure you try their fish and chips, which was the winning dish in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay). Each of these restaurants had outdoor patios. They even got us into the Art Institute’s Monet exhibition.

In an effort to avoid seeing people, I was nervous to venture out in the midst of a pandemic, especially when we’ve been urged to stay at vacation rentals if we must travel. But there’s just something about staying in a hotel that makes everything feel okay with the world, at least for a few days. And if the hotels can manage to keep themselves clean and safe, then the least we can do is to stay in them. It’s not such a sacrifice on our part.

Tagged: Chicago, Chicago, Colorado, Middle East, Midwest, New Orleans, United Arab Emirates

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Danielle Braff

Danielle Braff

Danielle lives in Chicago with her family, two cats and a dog, but she's constantly researching her next vacation. Check out her other articles at

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