Built on the brushstrokes of artists, River North is dotted with countless art galleries that helped put the area on the map. Its creative community and heritage began to attract equally inspired restaurants, stores and bars, turning it into a hub for tourists in search of Chicago’s culture and best bites to eat. If you’re one of them, stay in one of these close-to-the-action hotels.
Kimpton Hotel Palomar Chicago
Courtesy of Kimpton Hotel Palomar Chicago / Expedia
Kimpton Hotel Palomar Chicago takes a luxury-fueled approach to its retro interior. Its 17th-floor indoor pool is surrounded by striped loungers, where you can recline surrounded by views of towering skyscrapers. Sable Kitchen & Bar is an ideal spot for a craft cocktail or a plate of pan-seared scallops. After days spent perusing the designer boutiques of nearby Magnificent Mile, the elegant rooms ensure relaxation with yoga mats and luxury Atelier Bloem toiletries.
Rising in the Roaring ’20s, this soaring structure saw life as an apartment block, laundromat and jazz club before it became the Talbott. Now, the restored building clings onto its storied past with luxurious velvet furnishings, golden accents and polished tiling. Flanking the lobby is 20 East, a restaurant where you can pull up an Art Deco-style seat for crispy brick chicken with yukon gold potatoes. Skip dessert and order a pint of Jeni’s ice cream to your room, in flavors such as Savannah buttermint and cream puff.
The Cubist-inspired facade of the Godfrey looks straight from the world of sci-fi. Luckily, the interior keeps up appearances with a cosmic collection of shiny chrome furniture, Saturn-style light fixtures and curved walls. When night falls, head up to the neon-lit rooftop bar and slide into one of the white booths with whale-tail-shaped awnings to try one of the CBD-infused cocktails. Rooms are sleek spaces with violet chairs, deluxe L’Occitane toiletries and a coffee maker for morning pick-me-ups.
A former office building revamped by renowned designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, Conrad Chicago is sleek sophistication dressed in warm earth tones. The lobby is home to an opulent hanging art installation and bourbon-fueled bar Baptiste & Bottle. If the season allows, head up to Noyane (“hidden roof” in Japanese) for killer city views, Japanese eggplant skewers and Pa Pa Sangria – a sake, vodka and passion fruit cocktail. You can also unleash some energy on the gym’s punching bag and crash in rooms with 65in TVs.
A short amble from Millennium Park’s mirrored bean, this boutique hotel rises among the designer stores of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. A fusion of burnished coppers and slates grays is found throughout, elevated by meditative statuettes and swooping woven wall hangings. Relax in its award-winning spa with a Hanakasumi treatment (which uses cherry blossom, rice powder and scalp massages to exfoliate and relieve stress) or in the purifying Himalayan salt sauna.
Moxy Chicago Downtown is brimming with character, from the dinosaur cookie jars in the bar to the lounge filled with board games and cushions stamped with pop-culture references. Peruse books and a vintage vinyl collection in the library, where you can recline in alcoves lined with rabbit-print wallpaper. Rooms are more subdued, with sleek wood furnishings and cracked-leather headboards, but a retro edge is added with rotary dial phones. The ones overlooking the inner circle have views of an edgy art installation, reminiscent of a 1950s nuclear town.
This hotel’s wrapped-in-glass structure rubs shoulders with the colossal Merchandise Mart and Navy Pier’s psychedelic lights. A rainbow-striped entrance leads you into a futuristic lobby with egg-shaped chairs and halo lights. Upstairs, rooms with far-reaching views of River North and signature platform beds are stocked with bespoke Bliss Spa toiletries. The gym is open 24/7 to suit all schedules, so you can fit in an early-morning workout before picking up a morning bun and latte from Beatrix.
Part contemporary gallery and part sophisticated hotel, this art-filled accommodation matches the luxurious flair of its neighboring shops and restaurants. You’ll be welcomed by kooky sculptures at the marble-top reception, before retreating to soothing off-white rooms with decadent golden detailing and complimentary Malin+Goetz bath products. Splash out on the 21c Suite for sweeping downtown views and a deep soaking tub. The hotel’s mesmerizing gallery is a must-visit while staying, stuffed full of otherworldly art and eye-popping portraits.