chicago Travel Guide
Chicago can now brag about being one of the few cities around the world to play host to three Hotel Indigos. These bragging rights can't officially start until the hotel opens after the winter thaw in 2014, though.
The Windy City will welcome the new hipster hotel that will take over the former Atlantic Bank Building along Chicago's most famous street, Michigan Avenue. The 101-year old building will be transformed into a 156-room hotel that, in true Hotel Indigo fashion, pays great attention to design while incorporating pieces of local flair. We would be surprised if being across from Millennium Park doesn't play a major role in design; the 'bean' is too cool not to.
This is no normal $30 million renovation since four additional floors will be added to the building creating a new, happening rooftop bar, and a restaurant managed by celebrity chef David Burke. With the bar on the top, the restaurant will take over the former bank vaults in the basement to provide a private dining experience. Just think of those killer views while enjoying a cocktail!
UPDATE: We initially had this Thompson property (the old Sutton Place hotel) confused with the hotel planned for the old Chicago Athletic building. Thanks to commenter hapmonk for pointing out our mistake.
Last we checked on the status of Thompson Chicago was back in December but six months later, there's not much to add.
Right now, the hotel's website is saying this:
Located in the heart of Chicago’s affluent Gold Coast, Thompson Chicago will represent the sophisticated luxury that the Thompson brand is known for. Positioned just steps from Michigan Avenue, boutiques on Oak Street, and downtown dining and nightlife destinations, the 246-room hotel will offer unparalleled views of Lake Michigan. Featuring bold interior architecture with rich accents by acclaimed British designer Tara Bernerd, the Thompson Chicago will also feature a new signature restaurant by One Off Hospitality.
In short, it will be very Thompson-y.
Initially, we had heard this hotel would open in December but now the website is just saying, "2013." What could this ever mean? We won't hold our breath but god, we hope it's sooner rather than later. And who knows? Maybe Thompson is also working on some killer WiFi network that's fast and reliable and totally free! Ok, that's asking too much. Sigh.
On the heels of our 2013 Hotel WiFi Report, we've got some very good news from the upcoming Virgin Hotels. The hip four-star hotels from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin company will be offering not just free WiFi in their hotels but "secure, reliable and fast" WiFi. Glorious!
Here's what Doug Carrillo, Virgin Hotels VP Sales and Marketing told us:
Virgin attracts travelers who like to mix business with pleasure, whether they are checking their inbox during a getaway or checking out new restaurants and local entertainment inbetween business. Like our sister Virgin companies, we at Virgin Hotels will offer guests a distinct and better experience at a great value and product innovations that aren’t bells and whistles but that will result in a productive and enjoyable stay. We already love our guests so much that we plan to give them all the tech amenities they need -- starting with wifi that is secure, reliable, fast, and free.
We called it one of our hotel openings to get psyched about back in February, and yet while The Langham Chicago will not open in May as expected, a July date is now on the books. And to whet our appetite while we wait, the hotel's Facebook page has been giving us plenty of photos to ogle.
Set within the Mies van der Rohe building - the famous architect’s last work - The Langham Chicago is right on the riverfront, and as we’ve pointed out, cozily next to Trump. Known locally as the IBM Building, it has been a Chicago Landmark since 2008. So what can we expect inside?
It looks like New York isn't going to be the only place with its own gay-themed hotel: The Out NYC, which debuted last year near Times Square, has revealed plans to open up a second location in Chicago by 2015.
Of course, they'll have to persuade the neighbors first. DNAinfo reports that developers from The Out Chicago will meet with locals later this week to review the proposal. Though, we don't think they'll face too many hurdles: the proposed location is in an area known as Boystown, home to gay nightclubs like Mini Bar and Sidetrack (the latter claims its address as "The Heart of Gay Chicago"), so…we have a feeling they're in the right spot.
Meanwhile, we hope The Out manages to get its act together this second time around. Having been one of the first guests to check into The Out NYC when it opened last March, we found the place eerily preschool-like, with neon green plastic grass, cheapo beanbag chairs, and funhouse mirrors everywhere. Not to mention, the rooms were teensy and the retro motel-style design offered an unsettling lack of privacy.
We're keeping our fingers crossed, though, that The Out Chicago will be a little more spacious and sophisticated. According to DNAinfo, the hotel will have 112 rooms, a rooftop bar, another KTCHN restaurant, plus a spa.
Easter Hotels / Peninsula Hotels / Four Seasons Hotels / Conrad Hotels / Kid-Friendly Hotels / Hotel Events / Hotel Decorations / → All Tags
Nobody does a holiday better than a hotel but the Peninsula Chicago has really gone out of its way for Easter again this year.
The luxury hotel on North Michigan Ave has decorated a MINI Cooper with bunny ears, a pink nose and whiskers and a poofy tail. The bunny mobile will ride around Chi-town with Peter Cottontail and the Peninsula mascot Peter Bear passing out candy and toy Peninsula bears (dressed up in their Easter finest) to kids throughout the city. So parents, if a car pulls up with a bunny and a bear looking to give your kid some candy, it's actually ok to let them.
Back inside the hotel, the Lobby restaurant and The Children's Lounge will feature children's activities and of course, an Easter egg hunt. Looking for a last minute room at the hotel this weekend? Rates start at $350 a night.
Well, apparently a few positive changes have been made since then, as the hotel's doorman made headlines this weekend after helping to rescue a baby.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a couple who lives across the street from the hotel panicked on Saturday night when their baby's lips turned blue and started having breathing problems.
But the situation took a turn for the better when Talbott doorman Dwayne Neff spotted them across the street frantically trying to hail a cab. Neff immediately came to their aid, flagging down a nearby squad car (an ambulance would have taken too long), which then sped the couple and their struggling infant to Lurie Children's Hospital. Long story short, the baby turned out fine.
Meanwhile, Neff the doorman, described by the Tribune as a "spiritual man," who "believes the baby's rescue was a 'divine intervention' because everyone was seemingly at the right place at the right time," is now emerging as one of the story's heroes, for his quick thinking and pragmatism. In many respects, he might have been the difference between the baby's life or death.
He told the Tribune simply:
"I could sense the panic."
All in a day's work, we suppose.
Signing over a check for $168 millions dollars to refresh their rooms, the Hyatt Regency Chicago has created a haven for the most tech-savvy travelers. The hefty cost is not just for new coats of paint and a few new pillows, it creates an oasis for those that need to stay connected from check-in to check-out.
Mimicking the check-in hall of the world's largest airports, Hyatt's lobby with offer guests plenty of ways to collect room keys and start the unpacking process. In addition to the traditional face-to-face check-in, the hotel will offer iPads to track your arrival. If you prefer to be a little less futuristic, self-service check-in kiosks will be available too. Of course, we just discussed whether customers want this kind of non-personalized service.
The largest hotel suite in the Midwest just got a whole lot swankier. The Conrad Hilton Suite at the Hilton Chicago recently finished a $1.8 million renovation. Yes, well over a milli was spent on this two-story suite overlooking Grant Park and Michigan Avenue. So we gots to know--what's in it?
For starters, the suite has its own Grand Salon with a fireplace, a dining room for seating up to 14 guests, a library with a pool table and a bar, and a private kitchen. The suite also got a decor makeover and now features a new color palette of "neutral tones with crisp white trim", dark parquet floors, a Carrara Gold marble fireplace, a cleverly disguised television that pops up out of a dresser via the in-room iPad, and an old-school grand piano.
The suite's three bedrooms each have their own bathrooms along with freestanding bathtubs, glass showers, private dressing rooms and their own night-cap bars. This suite is now fit for a king, or at least the president. In fact, the suite is often referred to as the "Midwest White House" and every president since Reagan has spent the night here.
No doubt the Conrad's renovation has only made Barack Obama's hotel choices when visiting his hometown a lot tougher. Does he stay in a two-story suite worth nearly $2 million or does he go with the suite named after him at the Fairmont Chicago? File this under Problems We Wish We Had. Sigh.
[Photos: Hilton Chicago]
Among Chicago’s — and possibly the world's — most eagerly anticipated hotel openings is Richard Branson’s first ever Virgin Hotel, originally slated for Chicago. But rumors are swirling that it’s not going to happen. We cringe and die a little inside whenever we hear it, but more than anything, we're just anxious to get to the bottom of things.
In 2011, Branson first announced plans to open the hotel in a 27-story Art Deco gem, the Old Dearborn Bank building located in Chicago’s Loop. Construction was set to begin in May 2012 with a tentative opening date of fall 2013.
Well, that got pushed to a more ambiguous late 2013/early 2014 opening. And then, just yesterday, Virgin CEO Raul Leal confirmed an early 2014 opening with Hotel News Now. So what exactly is the deal with this place?
The view of Wrigley Field's iconic Cubs sign would be a major plus from the would-be new hotel
Yes, some of us are Chicago Cubs fans (don't be a hater) and haven't been able to find a decent hotel, ever, in close proximity to Wrigley Field. Which would explain why news of the latest Chicago hotel planned for just outside of the beloved Wrigley Field ballpark has us more overjoyed than usual.
It was announced last week that the Rickets family, owners of both the Cubs and Wrigley Field, had plans to build a boutique Sheraton hotel on the lot across the street from Wrigley Field, a lot they purchased just last year for $20 million and upon which currently stands a McDonald's.
According to Crain's Chicago Business, the new hotel would "be a 'one-of-a-kind collaboration' designed to fit the neighborhood landscape and community.
"Holy Cow!" It sounds so good we bet even Harry Carey is rolling in his grave.
Inside the cozy, casual Balsan at Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Ever since chef Danny Grant left Ria at Waldorf Astoria Chicago last July (mere months after being named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2012, we've wondered about the future of the restaurant, which also closed in sync with Grant's departure for "reconcepting." Six months later, and the former Ria remains in an odd sort of limbo.
One would think the deserted dining space would weigh heavily on the shoulders of a hotel just named last year as the #1 Large City Hotel in the U.S by Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards. But as far as we can tell, no one seems to be in a hurry to do anything with Ria. An insider tells us it's currently being used for private events and meetings, and may remain that way indefinitely.
Another idea we caught wind of several months ago was transforming Ria into a partially-enclosed rooftop space, a great move given the Rush Street/Gold Coast views below. But no official word has been released yet from Waldorf Astoria.