Chicago has a ton of buildings to marvel at. For example you can see: the Avenue Pumping Station, Chicago’s home Insurance Building, The Merchandise Mart, Marina City, the John Hancock building and the Buckingham Fountain. To ensure a perfect stay, you can choose within these five boutique hotels with distinctive and charming features.
Public may leave behind the velvet-rope aspect of the first generation of boutique hotels, but it holds onto Schrager’s trademark expressiveness, that emotional investment that makes a hotel feel like more than just a machine for lodging. Here a little design (by the likes of Yabu Pushelberg and Gabellini Sheppard) goes a long way. The spaces are theatrical, but subtly so, less like art installations and more like stylish backdrops for guests’ memories. It’s a timeless style that seamlessly blends the classic and the contemporary — this building’s got plenty of architectural history, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Pump Room restaurant boasts an impressive collection of black-and-white celebrity portraits.
Thompson boutique-hotel has equal parts classic, eye-catching modernism, luxe yet attainable comforts, and inviting, magnetic public spaces, where travelers and locals meet and mingle over a cocktail or a meal. The look is sharp and fairly sunny, the vibe is hip but not exclusionary, and the details are thoughtful enough to remind you that hospitality is best handled with a personal touch. The best rooms look out over Lake Michigan, but the city view’s far from shabby, and all are framed by the Thompson’s typically sharp interior design.
Something richer than the average boutique, and more stylish than the typical luxury hotel — that’s the idea behind the James. The rooms are swanky, in a restrained way, furnished with familiar designer pieces and rescued from the edge of minimalist boredom by an edge of decadence — vast TV screens, rich fabrics, top-flight entertainment centers and lush modern spa-style bathrooms.
The Talbott Hotel, on Chicago’s Gold Coast, is a throwback to another era, in this case the 1920s, a time before multinational hotel chains, superstar designers, indeed decades before the very invention of the concept of the boutique hotel. This classic recalls the era when this was the capital of the West. However, it’s been renovated since then, which is good news, but fortunately none of the character of the place has been sacrificed: it’s still a hybrid of old Chicago charm and pan-European sophistication, thanks to a collection of hand-picked antiques.
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The newest incarnation of the Lincoln puts a slightly tweedy, slightly irreverent, almost collegiate spin on modern hotel design, and it’s a style that feels right at home in the Second City. The hotel’s 184 guest rooms are parceled out within the horseshoe-shaped building to maximize lake views. Interiors feature a quirky selection of works from local artists (including Jeff Koons–inspired squirrels) to enhance the cheery, laid-back atmosphere. This is a truly Midwestern take on the urban boutique — rather than overwhelm guests with aggressively cutting-edge décor, it’s content to remain understated in its stylishness.