Disney. The word evokes feelings of elation, financial remorse, magical memories, and very long days. We decided, over our children’s “fall break” to attack Disneyland for one day. However, in doing so – and acting as a single parent on that vacation – I decided that I would prefer to stay in accommodations that would give me the same sense of wonder and self pleasure that a Disneyland resort hotel might give to the children.
Outside of the borders of the “happiest place on earth”, there exists a myriad of branded hotels that cater to conference guests and families looking for options other than resort-priced fare. I opted to cast my line, further out, to find something special…something elegant yet inviting to a family of four. I found that “something” at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, merely 30+ miles from Disneyland.
The hotel was listed as the #1 attraction in Riverside, a city that hosts a lovey array of museums, parks, a performing arts complex and a, albeit vintage, theme park: Castle Park (1976). Having resided in Santa Barbara for a number of years, I felt something familiar upon pulling into Valet. The historic landmark, originally built in 1876, now occupies one city block of space in downtown Riverside, a behemoth of Mission-Revival style architectural beauty showcasing accents of Spanish influences in every nook and cranny of it’s grand wings, courtyards and chapel. Following a $55 million extensive renovation over seven years time, the Inn reopened to the public in 1992. Thanks to the private owners (Mr. Duane R. Roberts and Mrs. Kelly Roberts), the resort continues to hold its status as Southern California’s “Crown Jewel”…an experience and denotation recognized by countless world leaders, celebrities and OUR FAMILY, as self-described discerning travelers from Aspen, Colorado.
We entered onto the grounds thru a warm, and Fall-like runway, with pumpkins and hay bails bringing that familiar autumn feeling to the 90+ degree, California day. The children were immediately immersed into the elegance and grandeur that the Inn evokes. Acting much less posh than their surroundings, they sprinted in and out of new hallways, peeked into restaurant entrances (a whooping 6, in total!) and “oohed” at the collection of artifacts that the hotel hosts, including Spanish cannons, statues of dragons, and two special year-round guests: Napoleon & Josephine, the beautiful and captivating macaws who, if your lucky, will converse with kids and adults, alike.
We checked in and swept up our keys to the recently opened Kensington Kelly Suite, a fairytale getaway for a family preparing for Disney’s onslaught of princess-dome and magic. However, this extravagant suite truly delivered a royal experience in its castle-like ambiance that, upon entrance, immediately QUIETED our children, a feat certainly appreciated, and often unachievable, by this parent!
The suite is a dedication to the Roberts’ granddaughter and commemorates three generations of their ownership in the Mission Inn. It is adorned in pink, black and gold, accented in polka dots and stripes, and delivers a royal, yet playful, atmosphere. A quaint sitting area boasts a tea set; a fireplace warms the hearth and heart, and a set of French doors leads to a private patio perfect for an afternoon of French fries and white wine (a moment of bliss following the heightened excitement of residing in such adornment for the evening)!
The hotel’s staff generously supplied a Kensington Kelly Doll for each of my girls, as well as Sleeping Beauty eye masks and darling how-to-be a princess books, for the sweetest of sleeps that night. Working for, and against me, were added treats from Casey’s Cupcakes – a delicious on-site confection boutique that delivers the most dainty and beautiful creations by a Cupcake War contender, Casey Reinhardt, who looks, herself, to be cut from the cloth of the Kensington Kelly Suite! Over-the-top perfection.
Within the lavish comfort of the Kensington Kelly Suite come amenities for the big and small. Suite packages for the Royal Queen and Princess (of which our cupcake delivery and princess dolls were included), in-room spa packages and additional enhancements including an afternoon tea (not to be missed!!) were all highlighted in an elegant menu of services. We sighed in disbelief that our stay wouldn’t include one meal in all of the restaurants on property, each catering to a variety of tastes and, for the most part, appropriate for families of varied ages.
We did, however, partake in the most lovely of all high tea experiences, catered to children of all ages. The tea was served in the hotel’s main restaurant: The Mission Inn Restaurant. Recently recognized as a “Top 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in America” by OpenTable Diner’s Choice Awards, the adjacent Spanish Patio is an al fresco dining spot surrounded by the bell tower, Anton’s Clock and Glockenspiel, a collection of bells from missions throughout the United States, and a circular tiled fountain. In fact, it is possible to have the fanciful tea served in the Kensington Kelly Suite! But, sitting in the courtyard amongst many a ‘civilized’ dining groups played a part in the whole sophisticated occasion. What a treat!
My personal regret was not having had the time (less a cancellation of Disneyland was possible) to be consumed by the 7,000 square foot, Tuscan-inspired Kelly’s Spa, a Condé Nast Award-Winning indulgence which would need to be savored at the next visit. To be certain, the spa also caters to their youngest guests (4-12 yrs) by offering facials and nail treatments, while adorned in cozy, signature robes and grand tiaras. And, why wouldn’t they?
It was a visit to relish and remember quite fondly, a piece of paradise to be reserved by itself or in conjunction with a trip to Disneyland. An experience that leaves you relaxed and wanting to return for the princess, or princely, treatment that only the Inn, and their special Suite, can deliver. We will certainly revisit the historic landmark and take part in more of the ‘pomp & circumstance’ that it, and its people, bring to each visit. Because, we should all be treated like royalty “once upon a time”…Mom and Dad, included.
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS DINING
Holiday Champagne Brunch (Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Thursday, November 22nd & December 25th, 2018 | 9AM – 2:30PM
Adults – $69.50* | Children (5yrs. – 11 yrs.) – $28.95* | *Inclusive of tax and gratuity
Children 4 years old & under are complimentary
Sunday Champagne Brunch With Santa
November 25th – December 23rd, 2018 | 9:30AM – 2:00PM
Adults – $47.50* | Children (5yrs. – 11 yrs.) – $24.50* | *Plus tax and gratuity
Children 4 years old & under are complimentary
Note: No other menu is served at this time
Holiday Dinner Buffet
Every evening, November 22nd – January 6th, 2019 | 4:00PM – 10:00PM
Adults – $42.95* | Children (5yrs. – 11 yrs.) – $19.95* | *Plus tax and gratuity
Children 4 years old & under are complimentary.
Clothing by Wild & Gorgeous (United Kingdom)