Chicago is no stranger to opulence. The glittering boutiques of the Magnificent Mile and Oak Street district, the fine-dining at Oriole, Everest or Aliena…and that’s without even mentioning the glorious hotels. Complete your stay in the Windy City with style at one of these luxury hotels.
Sitting on the rooftop sipping a cocktail while the surrounding buildings turn fiery orange in the setting sun, you may give yourself a quiet pat on the back for your choice of accommodation. Having set up shop in the city’s trendiest neighborhood, Ace Hotel confirmed the reputation of the West Loop as the place to be in Chicago. Rooms are made up of exposed concrete, blonde-wood desks and utilitarian throws, while common spaces are packed to the brim with lively travelers meeting and mingling in anticipation of the night ahead.
Housed in a piece of Chicago history – a tower designed by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe – you know The Langham is going to be special before you even step inside. Every little detail has been paid the utmost attention here; bathroom glass can be made opaque at the touch of a button, and Chuan Spa amenities take hotel shampoo to another level. The service of the hotel matches its spectacular locale; staff go the extra mile to make you feel like an honored guest, and if you stay in a club-level room you’ll even have your own personal butler – how’s that for fancy?
If your idea of luxury pertains to the facilities on offer, then The Peninsula shouldn’t fall short of expectation. Housed on the 19th and 20th floors of the building, the wellness center truly feels like a little slice of heaven perched above the Chicago streets. Swim a few laps in the half-Olympic-length swimming pool with the soaring cityscape providing the backdrop, then allow yourself a little pampering with one of the many spa treatments on offer. Dining is another worthy reason for staying here – the 1930s supper club-inspired Shanghai Terrace serves Cantonese food under the twinkling lights of Chicago every evening.
The outstanding customer service starts the moment you book at Waldorf Astoria Chicago, when you are passed on concierge information for any pre-arrival requests or queries you might have. When your check-in day finally arrives, you’ll quickly notice the interior design is every bit as impressive – with art deco-accented 1920s influences found throughout. The award-winning spa is the perfect place to let the outside world slip away for a moment – the ivory-colored space has an ethereal feel to it that will leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Originally opened in 1910 as the tallest building in Chicago, The Blackstone has played host to a storied number of guests over the years, including Marilyn Monroe and Al Capone. Ask around and you might hear a tale or two about its heyday – still evident in its early 20th-century decor. However, the hotel has been renovated and modernized over the years so you can rely on there being plenty of modern comforts. There’s also an extensive collection of over 1,600 pieces of art, rivaling many of the dedicated art museums in the area.
Housed in an art deco building, modernized with a glass skyscraper annexing the original terracotta facade, the Viceroy is a testament to modern-day architecture. While it could seem incongruous, the newer tower seems a perfect match for the original structure. Interiors reflect both elements; gilded and furnished with 1920s-era furniture, yet with added geometrical elements and technological touches that bring it into the 21st century. Soak it all up with a cocktail by the rooftop pool at sunset.
The Hoxton is the height of luxury for the millennial generation; think rooftop pool and bar, uber-cool-yet-understated decor and a range of drinking and dining options that attract both locals and guests in equal measure. Perfect for foodies, not only does the hotel put you in Chicago’s best gastronomical neighborhoods, it’s also a dining destination itself. Rooftop Cabra serves up hearty Peruvian fare under the twinkling city lights every night, while ground-floor Cira serves up modern Mediterranean cuisine. Nightcaps can be had in the basement bar – Lazy Bird – where the cocktail list and moody decor complement one another perfectly.
At this hotel, a certain Chicago sheen sits alongside the youthful flair that the W Hotel brand is so famous for, creating a winning combination of contrasts in character. The MSC Bar is a cathedral-like space, its cavernous surroundings offset by the enormous central bar reminiscent of a NASA-like space shuttle. Rooms are similarly modern in style, with whitewashed walls and LED-lit beds that seem as if they are floating – all just an easy elevator ride away so that you can beam yourself up to your room if you happen to indulge in one too many cocktails.
When it comes to contemporary luxury, the Nobu hotels are hard to beat. A relative newcomer to the city’s hotel scene, it brings with it Zen-like rooms that are minimalistic in style, yet highly detail-oriented. The utilitarian-luxe rooms may appear sparse at first glance, but ultra-high-end amenities include steam showers, private bars and traditional Japanese tea services to help bring even the weariest of travelers a sense of peace. Some rooms come with expansive city views through picture windows, which you can admire while tucking into an unbeatable room service spread from Nobu Restaurant.
Mad Men fans, watch out: the Conrad sports enough mid-century chic, scotch options and fitness facilities to impress even Don Draper. Each cardio machine comes stocked with a water bottle and fresh towel, though if you want to pound the pavement, just ask the hotel’s house car to drop you off anywhere within two miles (3.2km) for you to start your run. Don’t forget to order a custom whiskey cocktail from the Baptiste & Bottle bar – the drinks manager likes to style them out with flames and smoke.
Guests at the Fairmont can practically roll out of bed and into the main attractions of downtown: Millennium Park, Navy Pier and the magnificent Neo-Baroque Chicago Theater. While the decor is less design-centric than other luxury options, it’s the amenities that stand out: gym attire for borrowing, gourmet picnic baskets available to order and an 11,000sq ft (1.022sq m) spa with an exhaustive menu of facials and treatment rooms.
Though removed from downtown, the Hyde Park area is worth a weekend adventure, not least for the DuSable Museum – America’s first institution dedicated to African American history. The Sophy is a destination in itself, splashed with watercolor prints, individually curated fixtures and touchable textured cushions. Don’t leave before making a stop at Valois Restaurant, one of Barack Obama’s favorite breakfast spots.
The Hotel at Midtown’s location by an expressway on the westside of town makes sense once you realize that this 575,000sq ft (53,419sq m) wellness retreat is the destination. Guests are automatically enrolled into the Midtown Athletic Club with access to a spin studio, a boxing program designed by George Foreman, a Zen yoga studio with wooden tree sculptures and much more. Post workout, chow down on wagyu and beef heart meatballs at Chromium restaurant.
This boutique hotel is named after the architect of Wrigley Field, Zachary Taylor Davis. As you might expect from a hotel edging the Chicago Cubs’ home turf, there’s a strong baseball theme in the rooms with splashes of Cubs blue, vintage photos and even views over the field – at an extra cost. Non-sporty guests will appreciate the vintage whisky cocktails at Mordecai, and Southern-style barbecue from Smoke Daddy.
The Viceroy is less a hotel, more the cover star of an architectural magazine. Inside and out, it sparkles like a cut gem; metallic headboard art and triangular chaise lounges complement the glittering, angular facade. Sip a poolside craft cocktail at the rooftop lounge, Deveraux; the menu changes seasonally, but expect unconventional additions including cactus fruit and Génépy alpine liqueur.
Wrigleyville’s other main hotel is a little further from the field and less design-forward than the Zachary, but it offers great value for money with homely suites and passes to the neighboring 40,000sq ft (3,716sq m) Fitness Formula Club. The emerald-accented lobby has a fireplace for enjoying a mug of tea and cosy post-game discussion, while the helpful concierge can assist with reservations at the area’s many restaurants.