Last weekend, my family had a winter staycation at the Hilton Anatole. I had been wanting to visit this hotel for a while since it has special family activities in both the summer and winter. Did the hotel live up to its hype?
History and Arrival
The Hilton Anatole is located just north of Downtown Dallas. It’s quite a large hotel complex with a few atriums and a large tower sitting on 45 acres.
The Hilton Anatole has an interesting history. It opened in 1979 with 1000 rooms as the Loews Anatole. A few years later, the hotel built a large tower expansion with more rooms and amenities, bringing the total number of rooms to over 1600.
In 1984, the hotel served as the Reagan-Bush headquarters for the Republican National Convention in Dallas. In 1995, Wyndham took over managing the hotel, and it became the Hilton Anatole in 2005.
We arrived about 2:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon to a tastefully decorated lobby that was deserted. Woohoo, no line at the reception desk!
The tower and atrium areas had many interesting and fun backdrops for photo ops. I would describe the vibe as grand and elegant with an Asian flare.
We had booked a deluxe corner room for 42,000 Hilton Honors points. Our room was located in the tower, and it was plenty large enough for my family.
The room had a small hallway with a closet and refrigerator, a sitting area with a desk, chair and sofa and two beds.
Since my kids hate to share beds, my daughter slept on the sofa and my oldest slept on an inflatable mattress we brought from home. We still had a lot of floor space.
From our window, we could see the outdoor sculpture garden and the JadeWaters pool area:
The Executive Lounge at the Hilton Anatole
Since my husband has Hilton Honors Gold status thanks to his American Express Hilton Surpass card, we were informed at check-in that we would have access to the Executive Lounge for drinks, hors d’oeuvres and breakfast. That was a pleasant surprise, because Gold status does not guarantee access to all Hilton Executive Lounges.
We headed to the lounge shortly after we arrived to check it out. There was plenty of seating:
And a great view of Downtown Dallas from the 25th floor:
That evening, we went to the lounge for hors d’oeuvres. The lounge had three hot dishes, chips and salsa, fruit, cheese and vegetables. My family was satisfied having this for dinner.
Despite being full, we came back for these yummy desserts!
For breakfast, the lounge had two hot dishes (scrambled eggs and sausages) as well as an assortment of breads, yogurts, fruit, cereal, etc.
We really felt spoiled by having access to the Executive Lounge!
Art at the Hilton Anatole
The Hilton Anatole has over 1000 pieces of art on display inside and outside. Check out the hotel’s dedicated art website to see the most popular pieces of art. You can also do a 1-mile art walk with audio tour or an art scavenger hunt!
I was most fascinated by this huge piece of the Berlin Wall:
After we checked out the Executive Lounge and some of the art in the hotel, we headed to the indoor pool. Of course we did! It was a decent size and had a hot tub.
One of the main reasons I booked a winter staycation at the Hilton Anatole was because of some special winter family activities at Peppermint Park in the outdoor sculpture garden. These activities cost extra, but I bought tickets on Groupon for just $15 each.
Unfortunately, as soon as 5:00 rolled around, it started to rain. I was worried that my kids would be bored at night and we would be sitting in our room with nothing to do since Peppermint Park would be canceled.
However, the Hilton staff moved some games inside to the Grand Ballroom and made sure that most of the family events could still happen. My kids decorated cookies, made a craft, and played games like ice fishing and snowball tic-tac-toe. Kids earned tokens from games to redeem for prizes like plush animals and light-up rings.
The choo-choo train even came inside!
The highlight of the hotel’s entertainment for my family was the marionette puppet show put on by Geppetto’s Marionette Theater. The theater has a permanent home inside the Hilton Anatole and changes shows a few times a year. That night, we watched a special Winter Wonderland show.
It. Was. Hilarious.
Seriously, it was way more entertaining than I anticipated. Kids were squealing.
Here is Olaf from the Frozen movie:
After the show, the puppeteers allowed kids to try out the marionettes.
Later in the evening, we watched a movie in the ballroom. Hilton Anatole provided pillows, blankets, popcorn and lemonade. My daughter fell asleep on the floor!
Based on our experience, I recommend Peppermint Park winter activities for kids ages 10 and under. Since we were rained out from the outdoor activities, we have the option of coming back to the hotel in better weather with our same tickets, which is a great option to have!
Note: The Hilton Anatole also offers breakfast with Santa for an additional charge, but we did not participate. My daughter visited with Santa in the hotel lobby on Saturday night during Peppermint Park, and there was no line at the time.
The Verandah Club Fitness Center
If you’re into working out, the Hilton Anatole is great. The Verandah Club Fitness Center is 80,000 square feet!
It has an indoor lap pool and a hot tub:
A basketball court with an elevated walking track:
A large cardio and weight room as well as a spinning room, aerobics room and squash courts:
My husband enjoyed the Verandah Club the next morning while I took the kids to another round at the indoor pool.
The hotel also has a smaller 24-hour fitness center with ample equipment.
During our visit, we did not experience the spa or any of the five on-site restaurants and bars.
Final Thoughts and Comparison to ICE!
My entire family had a blast at our one-night winter staycation at the Hilton Anatole. We were all impressed by the grand elegance of the décor throughout the hotel. The Executive Lounge access was an unexpected boon for us, and the family activities were perfect despite the rain.
Compared to ICE! at the Gaylord Texan, the family activities and ambiance at the Hilton Anatole are much more low-key. The entire hotel is not nearly as crowded as the Gaylord, and the activities are much simpler than the elaborate ice sculptures and snow tubing hills at the Gaylord. The activities at the Gaylord have more of a hustle and bustle feel and in my opinion are a better fit for older kids and teens. The two hotels are night and day different in winter, but I’m glad we’ve experienced both.
I am curious to try out the JadeWaters water park at the Hilton Anatole during the summer. Maybe we have another staycation at the Hilton Anatole in our future!
Using Points to Stay at the Hilton Anatole
My husband applied for the American Express Hilton Surpass card when the sign-up bonus was 100,000 points. He got free Hilton gold status with that card as well as a free night at almost any Hilton that will come at his card anniversary date.
The sign-up bonus for that card is currently lower. Since American Express will be launching new Hilton cards in January 2018, I recommend waiting until January to see what the new sign-up offers are.
Have you stayed at the Hilton Anatole?
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Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.