Chicago Travel Guide
While its tipping envelope initiative continues to dominate the headlines, Marriott's introduction of a healthy vending machine at its Chicago O'Hare airport location has been much less controversial. Earlier this month, it jumped on the bandwagon of a Chicago start-up called Farmer's Fridge, which creates healthy options using local ingredients, puts them in a jar, and delivers them to vending machines throughout the city.
Yep, healthy food in jars, which can be recycled back into the vending machine after the meal. There's approximately 12 of them in Chicago, and Marriott plans to test out the concept for the next five months at O'Hare. It seems like a great fit for an airport hotel, with plenty of guests on the go, many arriving late at night and departing early in the morning when hotel restaurants may not be open. This, in theory, gives them an option that's healthier than a fast food restaurant or a candy bar from a typical vending machine. We've certainly been there.
We haven't swung through to try it for ourselves, but are very curious to see how travelers respond to it. We're also interested to know if the food's any good, so drop us a line if you've tried it. As for what's on the menu, here's the full list of the items inside, which range from $3 to $12 dollars in price:
The property has 40 bedrooms, three restaurants (all open to the public), a private cinema and a retro-styled gym with a vintage boxing ring and aerial yoga classes. Soho House is also located on a back street in the West Loop neighborhood behind the hottest restaurant precinct in town. (Since you can clearly work off whatever you ate the night before, there's no reason not to take a few steps to some of the eateries found on Randolph Street.)
Take a look around a "Medium" room at the Soho House Chicago
Looks like starting crazy rumors about themselves wasn't enough.
Virgin Hotels are now printing those rumors--on doormats--and dropping them off at other competing hotels in Chicago. Here are a couple of snapshots of the upcoming hotel's cheeky brand awareness campaign.
We've actually seen this sort of campaign before when CitizenM parked a stretch limo plastered with ads for their new Times Square hotel in front of luxury hotels. We like the doormat idea better but would it have hurt you, Virgin, to put an opening date on the doormat? #canthardlywaitanylonger
[Photos via Virgin Hotels]
That old saying, "Three's a crowd", clearly never bothered Kimpton Hotels who have had not three, but four hotels in Chicago for quite some time. And now, the boutique brand is working on their fifth hotel for the Windy City. Fifth!
Kimpton recently purchased a historic office building in the Central Loop neighborhood. Built by architect William Le Baron Jenney in 1894, the building was previously known as the LaSalle-Monroe Building and before that, The New York Life Building.
Kimpton will renovate and refurbish the property to open by early 2016. The hotel will have 281 rooms, 9,500-sq.ft. of retail space on the ground floor, a restaurant and bar and a top floor ballroom with views of LaSalle street. We're guessing that means the Starbucks and Subway, shown in the photo above, will probably move out.
New York-based architect Gensler and Los Angeles-based design firm Beleco, will work with Kimpton's senior VP of design, Ave Bradley, to create a "locally appropriate" style.
And of course, all the Kimpton amenities that we love will be in play like free WIFi for Karma members, complimentary wine hour for guests and fun animal-print bathrobes.
Meanwhile, we hear that Kimpton will make yet ANOTHER new hotel announcement very soon, regarding a new hotel in the South. Our sources say it will be in Palm Beach but a Kimpton spokesperson would not comment on that. We'll just have to wait it out then.
The Soho House Chicago has been open for a week now and since we're still, um, working on our Chicago travel plans, we thought we'd do a cursory check of recent internet reactions.
The hotel surprisingly lacks a TripAdvisor page, so we're unable to find out the nitty gritty details of like quirky elevators or loud vents or issues with WiFi. But here's what we've gleamed about the new hotel from both the mainstream media and the (probably more important) social media:
New York Times: There's a custom, on-site boxing ring coming soon.
New York Post: Nine different products from Cowshed line the showers.
Eater Chicago: Go inside the Chicken Shop and Pizza East, both London-based restaurants that have spun off to Chicago.
Chicago Mag: The "ultra-indulgent" treatment from the Cowshed Spa is actually just a pedicure.
We told you back in March that the Soho House Chicago would be opening in August and well, wouldn't you know? The Chicago spinoff of the London members-only club--with hotel rooms attached--is actually opening next month, on August 11 to be exact.
Located in the West Loop nabe in an old warehouse that was once home to the Chicago Belting Factory, the Soho House Chicago will now offer 40 rooms, ranging in sizes Small, Medium and Medium Plus.
The small rooms, which are going for $240 a night on opening night, start at 300-sq.ft. and include free WiFi; complimentary tea, coffee and homemade biscuits; and Cowshed products in the bathroom. The website also says a hair straightener will be included with the hair dryer. Score one for the curly-haired ladies out there.
The Medium rooms offer 450-sq.ft. of space while the Medium Plus rooms bump up to a generous 650-sq.ft of space with a bathtub in the bathroom. (The other rooms only have showers.) Rates for these rooms are going for $350 on opening night. Sadly, there are only illustrations of the rooms online and not real photographs. Hopefully, we can get some of those for you to peep real soon.
It's not a rare 1961 Ferrari GT California but it is pretty sweet.
Thompson Chicago has revved up their offerings for hotel guests, thanks to a new partnership with Lexus.
Guests can ride around town in a sleek Lexus IS 350 convertible or a ginormous LX 570 LUV--luxury utility vehicle--without any mileage restrictions, i.e. no one telling you the ride is only good for a one-mile radius from the hotel. The rides are complimentary and feature a pre-programmed navigation system with addresses to Chicago landmarks and nearby road trip destinations outside of Illinois. But of course, you'll still rely on Google Maps anyways.
Guests can also choose to ride in the house car, which is an LS 460 L flagship sedan, driven by a personal chauffeur and equipped with complimentary bottled water, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot functionality.
Rates next weekend at Thompson start at $429 a night so having the use of a Lexus during your stay makes that a little more bearable. And if you already own a Lexus, you can book the Thompson Chicago through the Lexus Drivers Site and get a $100 hotel credit which can be used towards dining and drinks at the hotel's Salone Nico or Nico Osteria.
Possibly not the scrub selection
First it was massage with beer. Now it’s with bourbon. Are Four Seasons trying to tell us something?
First comes the scrub: a wicked scrub of brown sugar, ginger, pecan and Kentucky bourbon. Then, once your pores have been suitably boozed up (and back bacteria slaughtered by the bourbon), comes the massage – not just any massage, but one with hot stones.
Does it get any better than a bourbon scrub and a hot stone rub? Indeed it does. The treatment ends at the bar: not the poncy spa bar, but the actual hotel bar, Allium, where you’ll sample its signature single-barrel bourbon. Presumably you’ll be expected to change out of your robe for this part.
Sleeker. Sexier. Sassier.
Those are the three words used to describe the freshly revealed design of W Chicago Lakeshore after a massive renovation that made this beach-side stunner even more stunning.
Forking over about $38 million dollars for a much-needed refresh of the 520 guest rooms and suites, corridors, and even building exterior, the only hotel that overlooks Lake Michigan is once again the hotspot for visitors. And for locals too thanks to a few new restaurant and lounge offerings.
The Virgin Hotel Chicago announced their new executive chef last week and with that announcement we also learned a little bit more about the very mysterious Virgin we're dying to sleep with.
Chef Rick Gresh comes to Virgin after a 7-year stint as Executive Chef at David Burke's Primehouse restaurant at The James Hotel, which was deemed "Best Steakhouse" by Chicago Magazine in 2013. He's been cooking in Chicago for nearly 20 years and puts innovative concepts and local sourcing at the forefront of his approach to cooking. Here's what he said about joining Team Virgin:
“I am thrilled to join Virgin Hotels and inspired by their dedication to exceptional, locally sourced food,” says Gresh. “With six unique concepts under one property, this project will mark a landmark moment in Chicago’s F&B landscape, and I am very excited to be a part of the team.”
Yup. Read it again. He really did say SIX F&B concepts.
What will those be? We can only guess but it will include at least the hotel's main restaurant, probably the rooftop, possibly a bar menu, hypothetically a small cafe and maybe, room service? But that's only five concepts. Dammit, Virgin. You're killing us here. Guess we will have to wait until September when the hotel opens to find out.
In the meantime, here are 6 things we already know about Virgin Hotels.
[Photo: Virgin Hotels]
According to European folklore (and Metallica) a late night visit from The Sandman brings deep sleep and dreams. Which is a lot less creepy than the name implies — because frankly, “The Sandman” also sounds like some kind of serial killer summoned by chanting his name in the bathroom mirror. Just saying.
Luckily (or not, depending on your predilection for heavy metal and horror movies) it’s the former, shuteye-inducing Sandman paged by the new “Sleep Menu” available at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago. The menu offers complimentary rentals of simple aids like ear plugs and extra blankets, plus a humidifier and a sound machine full of sleep-inducing background noise: Thunder, white noise, babbling brooks and whatnot. (Ask nicely, maybe they’ll upload Lady Gaga’s latest. ZING!) Drop a little extra dime, and you can get anything from a relaxing eye mask to chamomile tea, a Hot Toddy to a bottle of “Relax” brand wine.
And of course, you’ll be resting your head in the same Hard Rock where music stars like Cyndi Lauper and Boyz II Men have recently caught some Z’s. Guy Fieri too, but we weren’t going to mention that. We’re going for sweet dreams, not high-cholesterol nightmares.