From classic hotels to hip boutique properties, Chicago has many great hotels to choose from. Our recommendations include:
The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: At 12 S. Michigan Ave., this hotel, opened in 2015, is a wonderful renovation of the former Chicago Athletic Association that was established in 1890. The building was completed in 1893 and was designed to resemble the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy. The club disbanded in 2007. The two year restoration started in 2012.
Shake Shack, on the first floor, occupies the space of the club’s Turkish baths. The second floor, contains the Drawing Room, The Milk Room (named after the place where the members drank “milk” when it was a prohibition-era speakeasy), the Game room and the Cherry Circle Room that was the club’s original men-only dining room,, which won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2016 for best restaurant design. I remember great meals there in the 1980’s. Cindy’s Rooftop is the new rooftop bar and restaurant, that has wonderful views of Chicago’s Millennium Park.
Hampton Inn: Hampton Inn has recently taken over the famed Art Deco building that was built in 1928 and was the former home of the Chicago Motor Club. It has a three-story lobby, which contains a new, 67-seat cocktail bar overlooked by a John Warner Norton original, 29-foot-wide road map mural. It has original light fixtures, Art Deco flourishes plus an original, 1928 Ford Model A overlooking the lobby. The hotel has 14 floors with 143 rooms. 68 E. Wacker Place.
If you are a Kimpton brand fan, they have four Chicago hotels. The Palomar 505 N. State, Hotel Monaco 225 N. Wabash, Hotel Allegro at 171 W. Randolph and The Burnham at 1 West Washington, in the historic Reliance buildng from 1895. Their restaurant is a good pre-theater destination.
Right in the heart of the Loop is the new, contemporary Hyatt Centric at 100 W. Monroe. It is in the middle of the business and theater districts with great shopping and restaurants within a short walk. It’s Cochon Volant Brasserie is a great new restaurant.
Recently opened in the Loop is Kimpton’s Gray Hotel at 122 W. Monroe. It is located in an historic building from 1894. It is home to the Steadfast restaurant, the Vol. 39 bar and the Boleo rooftop bar.
I also just found the Silversmith Hotel, a sleek boutique property at 10 S. Wabash a block from Millennium Park, The Art Institute and Michigan Ave. It is an easy walk to the theater district, shopping, Symphony Center and other Loop highlights and restaurants. It is located along the CTA El tracks, so I highly recommend asking for a quiet room in the back.
Recently, opened in the Loop is LondonHouse Chicago. Located along the Chicago River at 85 E. Wacker Dr. on the corner of North Michigan Ave., this is a part of the Hilton Curio Collection. Located in an historic building, this 452 room design hotel, has great style. The second floor lobby and bar is really outstanding and the rooftop bar and terrace has some of the best views in town.
The historic Blackstone Hotel is now an Autograph Collection Hotel and has been totally renovated. The rooms are sleek and contemporary. It is located along Grant Park at 636 S. Michigan and is close to theater, Symphony Center, the Art Institute of Chicago and other cultural activities. Their restaurant, Mercat a la Planxa is an excellent tapas restaurant where I have eaten several times. The hotel has an extensive contemporary art collection.
North Michigan Avenue and River North
At 203 N. Wabash, is the Virgin Hotels Chicago. This is a hip, contemporary boutique hotel with The Commons Club, a bar and restaurant, on the second floor and Cerise, a great rooftop bar on the 26th. It is located in the Loop in a great location near Michigan Avenue and public transportation. They also have the Two Zero Three on the first floor which is a coffee bar by day and wine bar by night.
The Langham is a stunning addition to the Chicago hotel scene. It occupies the first 13 floors of the historic landmark, IBM Building designed by Mies van der Rohe. Dirk Lohan, the architect’s grandson, designed the hotel’s lobby and furniture. Some of Mies van der Rohe’s designs were also used. According to the New York Times, the hotel has an extensive art collection as well with works by Juder Ledgerwood, David Klamen, Jaume Plensa and Anish Kapoor. The hotel is a great place for tea, or a drink in the bar overlooking the skyline of Chicago. The Travelle restaurant is also getting very good reviews. It is located at 330 N. Wabash.
Another good option is the newly opened Aloft Chicago City Center at 515 N. Clark with a hip lobby and good restaurant, Beatrix which is a neighborhood restaurant, coffeehouse, and meeting place. Also check out the Hotel Felix, at 111 W. Huron, which is a smaller boutique hotel. Troquet restaurant is attached for cocktails and dining. The Raffaello, at 201 E. Delaware, is a small boutique hotel in a great location a block off of Michigan Ave. Drumbar, their rooftop bar on the 18th fl. is really one of the best in town.
Further North is the Godfrey Hotel (127 W. Huron) and the Dana Hotel (660 N. St ate), both with great rooftop bars. The Wit Hotel also has a stunning rooftop bar. Located at 201 N. State, this is a great location for the Chicago Theater District. Since the Chicago El runs along the South side of the building, I would suggest asking for a room on the North side.
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel is a sleek, contemporary hotel, located just north of Millennium Park in Chicago’s New East Side or Lakeshore East, in a stunning building designed by Chicago architect, Jeanne Gang. 221 N. Columbus Dr. Their Filini restaurant is a very good spot and excellent for a pre-theater or pre-concert dinner.
The famous Drake Hotel from 1920, at 140 E. Walton Place, and the Palmer House Hilton are great landmark properties that are still good today. I first stayed in the Palmer House, as a child, on my first trip to Chicago in 1963. 17 E. Monroe. I recently ate at their Potter’s Chicago Burger Bar with friends in from Texas and thought it was a fun spot to eat in the Loop.
Luxury properties include the Ritz Carlton, the Peninsula, and the Four Seasons at 120 E. Delaware Place. The Ritz has been recently renovated with over $100 million spent. The lobby has been totally redone and now there is a new lobby bar, a new Italian restaurant and small cafe for coffee, tea and pastries. I was recently back at the Peninsula which is a lovely spot for afternoon tea.
The Waldorf Astoria is also a great luxury choice at 11 E. Walton. It was named the Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice for best hotel in the US in 2015. The recent addition of Michael Mina’s Margeaux Brasserie and lobby patisserie Petit Margeaux are welcome additions to the hotel and to the neighborhood. I enjoyed lunch at Petit Margeaux and am excited to try Margeaux Brasserie.
The Park Hyatt at 800 N. Michigan Ave. is a great property and its restaurant NoMI Kitchen is considered one of the best in town.
AC Hotel, 630 N Rush; Marriott’s new concept, Acme Hotel at 15 E. Ohio and the Freehand Chicago at 19 E. Ohio are all hip new options geared to a younger crowd. I loved the Freehand Miami when I stayed there 2 years ago. This is an upscale hostel with both shared and private rooms.
Ambassador Hotel: Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel which was the old Ambassador East Hotel is now the Ambassador Hotel. It is an attractive, contemporary hotel with a great vibe. The Lobby and Coffee Bar is becoming a local’s hot spot. The famous Pump Room is being taken over by Rich Melman and Lettuce Us Entertain You Enterprises. The photos featuring the celebrities from the original Pump Room are still there! 1301 N. State Parkway.
The Thompson Chicago: Formally opened at the end of 2013, this is a wonderful addition to the boutique hotel scene in Chicago. It has a sleek, contemporary lobby with a warm fireplace. The rooms have been totally redone from when it was the Sutton Place Hotel and are well-appointed, attractive and comfortable. The location is great for exploring the city and the staff extremely friendly. 21 E. Bellevue. Their restaurant, Nico Osteria at 1015 N. Rush, continues to get great reviews.
A block north of the Thompson Chicago at 1118 N. State is the new Viceroy Chicago. This is a lovely boutique hotel, with a beautiful lobby and common areas. They have a sleek, new restaurant, Somerset, by the Boka Restaurant Group, that is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends. It is a great new addition to the neighborhood. They also have an amazing rooftop bar, Devereaux, which features food and craft cocktails overlooking the Chicago skyline and small pool.
The colorful Indigo Hotel on the Gold Coast is a good location for taking public transportation, walking to restaurants and shopping and exploring the lakefront. I longtime friend is in process of renovating the property and re-branding it. I will keep you posted on the progress.
Opened in mid-2017 is Joie de Vivre Hotel’s totally renovated Talbot Hotel at 20 E. Delaware. It is a sleek, boutique property in a great location. The also have an attractive cafe and bar, 20 East where I just enjoyed a great brunch with a local friend.
I just heard about The Publishing House Bed & Breakfast which is a 11 room, luxury B&B in the heart of the West Loop. It is right in the middle of some of the best restaurants in town.They have four sizes of rooms, depending on your budget. 108 N. May.
Opened in 2017, the ACE Hotel Group has opened the new Ace Hotel Chicago in the Fulton Market District in the middle of the neighborhood with some of the best restaurants in the the city. The 159-room property has a sleek design using glass and concrete. Its signature restaurant, City Mouse, is a great spot to eat. Waydown, their rooftop bar has stunning views of the city while Stumptown Coffee Roasters has its first Midwest location in the lobby. I enjoyed a very good meal at City Mouse with local, suburban friends who loved the food and the atmosphere
The Hotel Lincoln: This is a good alternative to Loop, Michigan Avenue and Gold Coast Hotels. It is directly across from the Lincoln Park Zoo, near the Chicago History Museum and you can easily walk to restaurants, shopping and nightlife.
A wonderful new addition to the city is in the Bucktown neighborhood at the corner of North, Damen and Milwaukee right at the Blue Line stop. Groupo Habita from Mexico City has opened two properties in two historic buildings. The first, The Hollander, is a 20 room, high-end hostel, featuring shared as well as private rooms. It is good for singles, families and small groups. They have a coffee shop in the lobby run by Metric Coffee with a grab-and-go menu. A bike repair and rental shop is planned in the future. Next to it is the 69 room The Robey Chicago which has 69 rooms. It is aimed at independent and global travelers who appreciate great style and design. The Robey features 400-thread count sheets, WiFi and a swimming pool. The second floor lounge offers coffee by day and cocktails by night. Cafe Robey, is a French American bistro on the ground floor and there is a 35-seat rooftop bar overlooking the neighborhood which is open to guests and their friends. I loved the food in the restaurant and the view from the upstairs bar is amazing.