#CTLTravels To: Weekend in Detroit


Last weekend I spent a little over 24 hours in Detroit. While it was a quick trip, I still managed to get quite a bit done in the city. Shopping, dining, experiencing the holiday market and ticking off a stay from my 'hotel bucket list' I accomplished everything that I set out to do.
Ontarians border the US and two of their major cities, Buffalo, New York and Detroit, Michigan, which explains why you see so many Ontario license plates in these two places. I grew up spending time crossing into the US border to do a bit of shopping. Not much has changed for me, and for many others! If you return to Canada 24-48 of crossing the border, you can bring up to $200 per person without paying customs/duties. If you stay for 48 hours or more, that amount increases to $800! (check this mini guide for more information including alcohol limits)

Now that Target has left Canada, I frequently cross the border just to pick up essentials for the home and no trip to the US is complete without a stop at Trader Joe's. Over the years, I have found more reasons to visit Detroit than just shopping. In fact, my last few trips to Detroit, shopping was the last thing on my mind! The city is booming and shedding it's former image. It is quickly becoming the place to site-see, sampling regional fare and take part in one of the oldest market's in the United States! 

My weekend in Detroit was tacked onto our Chicago trip. We thought this would make a great stopping place between Chicago and home and we really wanted to stay at the Cadillac Book Westin Hotel, which has been on our hotel bucket list for years! I was also using this opportunity to meet up with a friend, Robin from the blog The Dress Decoded and the Instagram account @Robinvancrabb. We've followed each other for a while now and it was great to finally meet in real life! 

Since we were staying at a Westin property we upgraded our room to the Club Lounge. The Club Lounge goes back to my days of business travel. I was always upgraded to Club Lounge with Starwood Hotels and I really got used to having snack and drinks in the evenings and hot breakfast set out early in the morning. We saved by having our breakfast and all the tea, coffee, bottled water and soda, included in the price of the room. When you upgrade they put you on the 23rd floor that has some of the best views in all of Detroit. It was lovely sitting in the Club Lounge and watching the Detroit River with Starbucks coffee (oh, forgot to mention that part!)

We got to Detroit at noon on Saturday and headed back to our home at 5 pm Sunday. We ate like Kings and Queens in Chicago so for our time in Detroit we tried to be a little more laid back. We ate dinner at the Detroit Beer Co. and the bill was very reasonable, even after sampling two different beers a piece. The next day brunch/lunch was at The Dime Store. Another reasonably priced meal. I would recommend this spot and I'm pretty sure others would as well. It was very popular and because they don't take reservations, try to get there before your tummy starts to grumble (we waited 30 minutes for a table of three). 

Visiting Detroit during the holidays is great because you will find so many attractions for free! I'll cover more in the "Attractions" heading below, but trust me, there is a lot to see and do for free in the city. 

I removed the heading of "Where I splurged" because the hotel happened to be our big ticket item. The room, which we booked with Expedia again, cost $351 Canadian and that includes upgrading to the Club Lounge. Overnight valet parking was an additional $35 US. Told you it was a splurge! 

As much as we travel (and frequently stay at luxury properties around the world) I don't think I will ever loose the excitement of having the valet take our bags, load them onto a luggage cart, and take care of getting them to our room. It's such a small thing but as a mom, I am really always used to doing everything myself! It such a luxury to have someone else help. The valet's at the Westin were incredible. They loaded bags and helped me get everything together (they helped me find my mitten in the trunk because it fell out of my bag) and helped us get checked in. Our car was whisked away for safe keeping and our bags were delivered within 10 minutes of getting to our room. 

Check in was lovely. Our Westin member gave us some recommendations for the evening and made sure that the points for our stay were credited to my Starwood Loyalty account (since I forget to add that during booking). 

The room had a spectacular view of downtown Detroit with one of the Christmas markets just below. While this hotel stay was all about the history of the building and the view for AMH, the big draw for me was the bed. I fell in love with Sheraton beds while frequently visiting Montreal for work, so much so that we a Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed a few years ago! I just knew that the Westin Heavenly Bed would be just as great, and it was! I even posted a picture on my Instagram and had someone comment that they too bought a hotel bed! I always have the best sleep when I visit hotels (it has a lot to do with not getting woken up three times a night by two large Bernese Mountain Dogs!) but it's also to do with how comfortable the bed is and the bedding. Oh to curl up in a hotel duvet in a bed you didn't make. Add to that luxurious robes and spa quality bath products with giant bath tubs for soaking, it's pure heaven. Even if for only one night. 

One a cold a windy night, it sure was nice to come back to our hotel and head for the pool area. The Westin offers a large heated swimming pool and hot tub that could seat 10 of your closest friends. AMH and I spent a little time here but I did find the hot tub to not be as hot as I was hoping (probably had a lot to do with that I was freezing from being outside for hours beforehand). 

Early in the morning I got up and was craving my morning tea. I threw on last night's clothes and quickly made a tea in the Club Lounge, and took a few photos of the breakfast offerings to show AMH when he work up (what a time we live in!) After enjoying my tea in my room, and taking a shower, we both headed to the Club Lounge for breakfast. I had scrambled eggs with a sausage and a small bowl of hot oatmeal and fresh fruit with far too many cups of Starbucks coffee, and AMH enjoyed bacon, a bagel and one cup of coffee (I have no idea how he runs on only one caffeinated beverage).

Check out was just as easy as check in, actually it was quite entertaining. The lady who manages to valet car booth had a little romance going with AMH and when I got there she said she was going to keep him and that he wasn't leaving the hotel. Shameless flirts the two of them! Then, as we walked out the side entrance to pick up our car, a whole throng of people were standing behind a velvet rope with binders and pens in their hand. I thought I have become famous overnight! Ha! Actually, it was the New Jersey Devils they were looking for. The hockey players actually stayed on our floor that night and I am pretty sure I ran into a player while getting my morning tea. I'm sorry to say that I don't follow hockey very closely so I'm not quite sure who he was, but you could tell he was a professional athlete just by his size. 

Overall, AMH and I were very impressed by our stay and had a lovely time. The architecture is just beautiful and the lobby was all decorated for the holidays. If we get the chance to stay again, we will. But, there are a few other hotels in Detroit that we really want to try too! 

If you are headed to or near Detroit this holiday season, make sure to visit the Christmas Market that is right downtown. The markets have over 30 local vendors selling Christmas gifts. You can find everything from handmade ornaments to clothing.

I always recommend that you rent a pair of skates and head out onto the rink. Even if you are not the best skater, the scene is what you really want here. Think about it. If you're skating, you have to stay off your phone and actually look around you! You'll see the giant illuminated Christmas tree, the decorated huts, outdoor fireplaces and even Santa himself might make an appearance.

This year the new addition to the downtown festivities is the Cadillac Lodge, a heated hang out that is decorated like something out of an L.L. Bean catalogue! There are cozy chairs and couches with pillows and blankets everywhere. Sit for a while and grab something to eat or hang out with some friends and take photos, which is what we did!

Take a stroll on Woodward Ave. and do a little shopping. Fashion designer John Varvatos, a Detroit native, has a shop in the Wright-Key Building at 1500 Woodward. You will find many brand name stores are moving onto this street and spotting a Warby Parker store reminded me that I am overdue for a new pair of glasses (I'm kind of in love with these).

On our way out of town we stopped at the Eastern Market, one of the oldest in the country. Here we found a large indoor and outdoor farmers market and shops on the streets nearby. At the market I was introduced to a new vintage clothing seller, The Lowry Estate, out of Farmington. I bought a red winter coat while AMH wasn't looking. I can't be trusted around vintage jackets, they just don't make them like they used to! I love the classic cuts, prints and colours. Today when I head to a store all I see are black jackets. Black clothing is not really my thing.

The real reason we stopped at the Eastern Market was to visit the Detroit City Distillery. Here we sampled and purchased a bottle of bourbon to enjoy around the holidays. The place has a really cool vibe inside with dark leather and exposed brick walls. They offer a lot more than just bourbon so if you enjoy a spirit or two, this would make a great place to visit.

There is so much more to do in Detroit, which is why I find myself returning so often (Here's my Detroit City Guide that I wrote back in 2015!)

Well this will be an easy one. Nothing! We saw everything we wanted to, ate at some great restaurants, met up with a friend and spend a good amount of time at the skating rink and Christmas Markets. 

Well...okay so I would change one thing. I would have liked to have *finally* visited the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. Every time I am visiting Detroit this seems to slide to the bottom of the list. Next trip I am putting it to the top and making sure it's the first thing we do! 

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