chicago Travel Guide
Well, Loews Hotels has done a good job of keeping this one on the Down Loew but not anymore. Take a look here at what's in store for the Loews Chicago.
We first got wind of a Loews Hotel in the windy city back in 2008. We're not exactly sure why this was put on hold but we're gonna go with epic financial fail of that year. But now the project is back on and should be ready to open in early 2015. Here's the 411:
Loews Chicago Hotel will be part of a highly visible 52-story tower located just one block north of the Chicago River and two blocks east of North Michigan Avenue. The hotel will have spectacular city skyline and lake views from the 400 new guestrooms (including 23 suites) and meeting spaces both indoors and out.
The hotel also plans on having a signature restaurant, a 24-hour fitness center, a 75-foot indoor lap pool and a rooftop lounge. We can't wait to get Loew up high in 2015. (Ok, we'll stop. Puns are done.)
[Rendering: Loews Hotels]
The 215-room hotel in the city's River North neighborhood is currently open as the Amalfi Hotel but it's undergoing a multi-million renovation and will officially reopen as The Kinzie in February. But aside from lounging in upgraded rooms and public spaces done by the Gettys Design Group Chicago, guests will also be getting quite the history lesson with their stay.
The hotel's namesake, John Kinzie, is often referred to as "Chicago's first civilian" who was involved in the city's first controversial murder (he was later acquitted) and then had some wild escapades during the War of 1812. During that time, he identified first as a British citizen (even though he was born in Quebec) and then was captured by the British for treason. Naturally, when he escaped British imprisonment somewhere in Nova Scotia, he quickly re-identified as a U.S. citizen and spent his last years in Chicago. His son later opened the city's first hotel and restaurant. The Kinzie Hotel now stands just blocks from where John Kinzie's original mansion once stood (the street is even named after him too.)
The Kinzie's new Double Cross lounge will be the most obvious homage to the man. Inspired by a silver piece Kinzie designed in the shape of a double-barred cross as well as for his "mercurial" reputation, the sixth floor lounge will be open from 5 to 8pm and will give guests an assortment of complimentary small bites and a cocktail to kick off their evenings.
Keep reading for more on the guestrooms at The Kinzie!
UPDATE Nov. 5, 2013: The hotel is now opening next Summer, not Spring as initially planned/hoped by everyone eager to sleep with this Virgin.
A while back we were stoked to find out that the Virgin Chicago, due to open next
spring summer, would have not just a rooftop bar but also a Virgin Clubhouse. Granted, we weren't exactly sure what would be in the Clubhouse, but if it was anything similar to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses found at airports around the world, we knew it had to be something cool.
But now the clubhouse may not even happen.
The hotel's developer, Lionstone, has pulled the information referencing the Clubhouse from their website. Boo. But fortunately, the rooftop bar and lounge remains. (They also pulled this rendering of the hotel's entrance which a Virgin rep told us was not accurate at all.)
One of our operatives skipped by the hotel the other month but the Virge was pretty well-covered up. Such a modest Virgin! But still, we hope it won't be much longer before we get some real news out of this joint.
HotelChatter Interviews / Hotel Bars / Chicago Hotels / Hyatt Hotels / Park Hyatt Hotels / Hotel Bartenders / → All Tags
Keeping with our series of bending the ear of our favorite barkeeps, we recently had the opportunity to find out what NoMI Lounge Manager and bartender, Kevin Beary, at the Park Hyatt Chicago thinks about the industry's preferred poisons.
HotelChatter: So, what's your bar-tending journey?
Kevin Beary: I started my hotel bar career at the historic Bellevue in Philadelphia and moved to the iconic Clover Club.
HC: NoMI is quite the destination in Chicago, with an ideal location and great reputation, what is your thought process when designing a new cocktail menu?
KB: A new cocktail list is like the first day of school. It's a little nerve racking but exciting at the same time. It allows me to be creative yet still stay true to the NoMI experience.
Hotel Hype / Freehand Hostels / Hotel News / Budget Hotels / Chicago Hotels / Sydell Group / Hotel Openings / → All Tags
The Freehand Miami
The Freehand Chicago will open in the old Tokyo Hotel at 19 East Ohio Street and according to Chicago Real Estate Daily will have 250 beds. Key word: Beds, not rooms. The beds will be split between private rooms and dormitory-style suites with four to eight beds in a room. There will also be an onsite bar, called Broken Shaker, and a café that hopes to bring in both international travelers staying at the Freehand and locals. (The existing sushi restaurant, Ginza, will close later this month after 26 years in business.)
The interiors will be done NY-based Roman & Williams Buildings & Interiors who did the original Freehand in Miami and who is also redesigning the Chicago Athletic Association which will turn into a hotel next year. You can read HotelChatter's article on the design duo here. Better yet, you can tour every inch of the Freehand Miami here.
Chicago Hotels / Hotel Openings / Hotel Construction / New Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Opening Rates / → All Tags
While we had hoped that the new boutique hotel, The Godfrey, would open in Chicago's River North nabe this year, it looks like we won't have to wait much longer in 2014. The Godfrey plans to open the doors to its crazysexycool cubist-influenced building on February 1st. (Fun fact: it's adjacent to Hotel Felix on West Huron Street.)
The hotel will have 221 guestrooms spread out over 16 floors with 27 of those rooms as one-bedroom Godfrey Suites. All rooms, designed by Gettys Design Group Chicago, will feature " calming tones and textiles juxtaposition with impactful uses of color and contemporary built-in furnishings." In other words, the rooms look rather modern but thankfully not scary futuristic or uncomfortable.
Amenities include a 46-inch HD LED television, complimentary Wi-Fi, plush bathrobes, L'OCCITANE bath products, a large work station, wet bar, iHome docking station and RFID key cards. Guests will be able to control the TV via their smartphone and access flight info from the TV too.
Oh and there will be complimentary WiFi in all guestrooms and public spaces. YES.
The James Chicago has always been a bona fide "cool" spot for boutique hotel lovers as well as "food enthusiasts" but now it's destined to be the place for (refined) drinkers with its new JIMMY Chicago bar.
A spin-off of the popular spot JIMMY at the James Hotel in New York, this Windy City Jimmy is done by the same partners, David Rabin, Larry Poston and Johnny Swet. While it doesn't have a killer rooftop location, it does have a semi-secret entrance.
JIMMY is located behind the new Burke's Bacon Bar, the sandwich shop from Chef David Burke. And yes, that's located inside the hotel as well. Here are some step-by-step directions to getting into JIMMY:
Enter through the side of the hotel, then walk to the back of Burke’s Bacon Bar thorough a small vestibule room lined with sparkling chrome ball chain curtains.
Once inside, you'll find a "jewel box of a cocktail bar" designed by Thomas Schlesser, reminiscent of the 1970s with earth tones, bronze surfaces, lounge chairs, a wood-paneled bar and sexy low lighting.
But what will catch your eye the most is the cocktail menu, which is inspired by cinema. JIMMY partner and NYC star mixologist, Johnny Swet, has hand-crafted each drink such as the Bondsman (apple brandy, vodka, lime, cranberry juice, agave and seltzer) and the Mexican Julep (tequila, watermelon, lime, agave and cilantro muddled in a silver cup with crushed ice.)
There's no doubt that Chicago has become quite the hotbed for new hotel action in the past few years. From trendy boutique hotels with a definite artsy edge to names that are synonymous with luxury. Fortunately, we got to lay our very own eyes on a new property that fits into the latter category; the Langham Chicago.
Langham opened in July in a 'soft opening' that elicited lots of "oohs" and "ahhs", including our own when we got a glimpse of what's inside the former IBM building along the Chicago River. To the untrained eye, many people wouldn't take note of the building itself, but design junkies will know the building to be the last of famed architect, Mies van der Rohe. It should also be known that the inside pays as much homage to the designer and his building and we couldn't be more wowed.
Full of little details from hanging Czech glass globes in the lobby, designed by London-based Richmond Group, hand-picked art pieces and the subtle tech-y nod to the building's former glory in Travelle, the upscale restaurant on the lobby level; it would be hard to check-in to this hotel and be underwhelmed. Each of the 316 rooms are so well thought out featuring high-end furniture, plush fabrics and sleek marble, in even the basic of rooms.
The Virgin Chicago gets photobombed by Trump Chicago
We'd be lying if we said we're not excited about any news that comes out of the Virgin Hotel camp and since our last stroll by the Chicago property, we're even more excited about seeing some hard-core construction going on.
There's already a lot of action going on in this particular Chicago 'hood with a few handfuls of hotels, a city college, and plenty of office space surrounding the Loop building. But with concrete barricades and construction workers cleaning up the Virgin building's vintage detail, this is the action we're most excited about.
We also spied Virgin-red tape securing every window as wells as a red fence and a giant red tarp at the top of the building. Alas, the scaffolding is a boring beige color.
Tom Stringer, who will reinvent the Talbott, also designed Grant Achatz's Alinea, shown here
Two more Chicago hotels—The Talbott Hotel and ACME Hotel Company—are taking steps to bolster the swank of their interiors. The news follows our recent announcement that the historic Chicago Athletic Association (CAA) is enlisting the services of the hotter-than-now Roman and Williams design firm and our peek at the new and fine rooms expected this October at Thompson Chicago. It has us wondering; is the Windy City turning a corner when it comes to hotel design?
More on that deep thought in a moment, but first, The Talbott and Acme.
An insider has shared that The Talbott has hired award-winning designer Tom Stringer to tackle a significant refresh of the historic hotel, including the lobby and all 149 guest rooms. Known in Chicago for his work on Grant Achatz’s Alinea, Next and Aviary restaurants, Stringer plans to honor the hotel’s old-world European charm while also modernizing the dated design. That means bringing the interior design up to speed with rooms that already feature advanced in-room technology amenities, namely Apple Mac Minis. It's all very good news for the hotel, which also saw the opening of Ryan Poli’s amazing Little Market restaurant in its lobby this past year. So with high tech rooms, a top Chicago restaurant and soon the updated design, Talbott will be sitting prettier than it has in years.
A few months ago, we gave you the scoop on the $168-million renovations undergone by the Hyatt Regency Chicago, including a lobby modeled after an airport (in a good way), face-to-face as well as self-service check in, and touch-screen hotel and city directories. The makeover also included a remodeling of the guest rooms, restaurants and lobby bar.
As you'll see in the photos, the entire lobby consists of two-floors of expansive, open space. The front desk and Big Bar are located on this perch, and below one will find Stetson's Modern Steak + Sushi, American Craft Kitchen & Bar and Market Chicago.
To give you an idea of the scope of this overhaul, we've gathered some before and after photos of the hotel. The big thing to notice in the lobby area is that the huge fountain has been replaced by the American Craft restaurant, and the common space has been made much more user friendly. Big Bar has done away with the orange-colored decor in favor of a sleek, modern marble shine.
Chicago Hotels / Thompson Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Hype / Hotel Opening Rates / Hotel Openings / → All Tags
Back in December, the old Sutton Place Hotel in Chicago shut down in order to get Thompsonized by Thompson Hotels. We admit, we were a little worried about when that hotel would open back up. But today our fears have been laid to rest. The Thompson Chicago will show off its seriously foine rooms on October 1.
We found rooms then starting at $263 a night for a 21-day advance purchase rate. Or you spring for a more flexible rate of $329. There's also an AAA rate of $312.55 which should save you some dollars. That rate takes care of a 320-sq.ft. king superior room with a city view, REN spa amenities, 24-hour room service, a fully stocked minibar with Dean & Deluca snacks and what appears to be a velour banquette in your room. Different but totally cool. We're also loving that bed too. And that artwork has us intrigued.