60610 Travel Guide
How would you like to test out the services of a J.Crew personal stylist? Specifically the ones at the Chicago outlet, over on North Michigan Ave?
Yes? Well, then it's your lucky day. Martini-loving Public Chicago has launched a new package called "Stay PUBLIC...J.Crew Style" that offer fashionista guests an integrated sartorial experience, including a free appointment with a J.Crew person stylist, a welcome gift, complimentary courier service back to the hotel, and/or free shipping to send your new duds straight home.
Rates for the package start at around $165/night. Which ain't no dollar sale, but for a decent room at a chic hotel plus the sagely advice of a certified J.Crew stylist, we've seen worse.
The site of a Mondrian...maybe
The hotel hype actually comes from a Crain's real estate article on the neighborhood saying that Mark Hunt and his M Development company might try again to turn the Cedar Hotel, a defunct hotel, into a Mondrian. M Development enlisted architectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz to draw up some renderings back several years ago for the possible Mondrian but the dreams of acquiring and adding several floors to the building were effectively killed by the economic crisis of 2008.
Now that those dark days are behind the hospitality industry, especially in Chicago where the boutique scene is burgeoning, the plans to rework the property into something hip and cool have returned.
Give up some kisses for all to see at the Lincoln Park lagoon this Saturday
When not on the receiving end, public displays of affection mostly rub us the wrong way. Obnoxious, trashy, slutty -- get a room already! And suddenly like some fairy godmother from the hotel gods, Ian Schrager's Public Chicago will appear this Saturday, August 11, to grant wishes to both the heavy petters and the hot-and-bothered onlookers.
That’s right, hookers -- give it your best shot and you could score a room at Public Chicago.
Since it opened in 2011, Public Chicago has been on a quest to create real public engagement, mostly by way of inventive public spaces (spaces we just so happen to dig). But the latest Public ploy takes engagement a step further by celebrating PDA with a spotlight, cocktails and dinner, and — finally — a room.
You've seen this photo of Public's re-imagined Pump Room, you know, the one that makes you want to go there NOW.
Ever wonder what Public Chicago used to look like in its former Ambassador East glory? We often do. Originally opened in October of 1926, the hotel has a long history of being the place to be well before it became Public. First a luxury haven for the upper echelon, the Ambassador later drew celebs in droves following the opening of the Pump Room in 1938. That interest definitely petered off in the years before Public opened (September 2011), but the point is that this hotel was once as hot as it is today.
Here's The Pump Room under the former Ambassador East umbrella. Yowza.
During a recent visit to Public, we dug around for more clues about the hotel’s past life and scored, getting our hands on a bunch of old images of the former Ambassador East. We couldn’t resist sharing so take a look and a gander down hotel memory lane. Of course, you won't miss Public's totally crushing design and might even start wondering what it means to be hot both then and now.
The hotel scene in Chicago keeps getting hotter. Last week, we pondered the location of the upcoming SLS Chicago and we've already got our hotel spidey sense heightened for Virgin Hotels and Soho House Chicago.
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We never once thought the rooms at the hot new award-winning Public Hotel in Chicago were too pricey (we stayed there on opening night for $135 and have recently seen specials for $100 a night) but it looks like hotelier Ian Schrager is staying true to his promise to make Public available to the public--because he's just announced the hotel's first ever ONE DOLLAR SALE.
For a 90-day period starting on a secret date, Public will offer three special guest rooms per night, each with a rate of just $1. Not $10, not $5, ONE DOLLAR.
Once the sale goes live, prospective guests have 48 hours to book a room for $1 within the 90-day booking period (meaning you can book your stay either 10 days or 90 days in advance.)
It is first come, first served so there is no time to think it over, text with your boyfriend, DM your roommate or ask your friends on Facebook if you think you should book it. You just book it. Right there, right away. And then you can use the savings to have a seriously gluttonous meal down at The Pump Room.
We sung Chicago's praises last week when we named it Best Hotel Scene of 2011, and with good reason! The city's in the midst of a renaissance, and there are so many hotels to visit there now it makes your head spin. But here's one to keep in mind if you're visiting over the next few weeks: James Chicago is offering majorly discounted rooms, available during an exclusive Insider Sale that launches tomorrow.
The booking window lasts from tomorrow to January 15, and is valid for any reservations through March 31. How do $139/night guest rooms sound? As luck would have it, James New York is also getting a piece of the mid-winter action, with discounted Queens starting at $259, and Corner Kings starting at $339.
Maybe it's the turn to cold weather or maybe it's just the pressure of the upcoming holiday season, but we've been bellying up to more hotel bars than normal lately, and consequently becoming far snobbier about the cocktails we're ordering. What to do after you're already over the usuals? Well, ask the bartender what's good, of course.
This last weekend, pre-Pump Room dinner with friends at the Public Chicago, we did just that and the bartender immediately recommended the "Pump and Circumstance," which had until recently also been their most popular drink, before the basic Cosmopolitan regained the top spot. The Pump and Circumstance, he clarified, is concocted with gin, lemon, egg and a special syrup they make in-house, using lavender and Earl Grey tea. Done and done.
The Public Chicago may still be quite the newbie on the hotel scene in Chicago, but it's already got the Gold Coast glamor down pat, as evidenced by the classic, non-fussy look of their very first lobby Christmas tree.
It's a simple affair to compliment the low-key lobby, and it's surprisingly placed a bit off to the side. Why? Because even the tree knows that the real highlight of the lobbyduring cold Chicago winterswill be the Library Bar's fireplace and the way it beckons guests up into cozier surrounds.
Having experienced the Public and its Pump Room when it was still the old Ambassador East, we can say that the Public at least carries on the building's tradition of being the place in the neighborhood for a bit of white-gloved hot toddy service, though these days those white gloves have morphed to little black dresses.
This month, the hotel made five artists compete for the chance to have their work permanently displayed somewhere inside the building—and then filmed a mini reality show to document the whole process! The end results: a mummified shrub, an abstract map of Chicago's grid system, and a Rio de Janeiro-inspired painting. To find out which one actually made the cut, see below!
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Ok, now that we've got that loaded introduction (Pump Room! Vongerichten! Schrager!) out of the way, onto the good stuff. Oh but first, to be fair, while JGV designed the menu concept, the chef hard at work in the restaurant is chef Bradford Phillips, an Indiana native whose resume includes NoMI at The Park Hyatt Chicago. Now, onto the food!
So we actually took a seat in the hotel's Library Bar on the other side of the lobby hoping to sip a drink and eat some food away from the Pump Room scene. (It was opening night so there was lots of backslapping going on and PYTs clogging up the bar.) But a hostess told us that while they would usually serve food in the bar area, that was not happening tonight. There were, however, some cancellations for dinner and she could seat us in the Pump Room instead.
Eeeee, we hesitated because we were dining by our lonesome. But faced with the possibility of not having tasted the Pump Room before checking out, we said, F it and followed the hostess to a table along the windows and overlooking the hubub in the middle of the restaurant.
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Yesterday on our latest hotel-hopping adventure, we landed at Chicago O'Hare Airport and caught a taxi cab into the city. When the cabbie asked us where we were headed, we decided to use the hotel's former name instead, "We're going to the Ambassador East Hotel in the Gold Coast, although it's going to be called something different now."
The cabbie nodded his head up and down in recognition at Ambassador East but once we got on our way, he asked, "What do you mean it's going to be called something new now?"
So we explained that the entire hotel had been renovated and was now going by a new name--Public Chicago. Our cabbie's reaction: "What? They couldn't come up with a fanicer name? That sounds like the poor house!" That had us chuckling in the backseat but we weren't laughing when we pulled up to the hotel.
The twinkling lights over the hotel's front entrance and the good-looking bellmen waiting in front had us gasping, "Gramercy Park!" Yes, just five years ago a taxi cab was dropping us off in front of another similar scene directed by the same man, master hotelier Ian Schrager.
But where Gramercy Park was cold and gothic inside, Public Chicago is warm and laid-back without sacrificing any of its high style and at the same time, achieving the perfect balance between affordability and luxury. In short, we like Public. A LOT.
For photos and video of Public Chicago, keep reading!