Christmas in Chicago - Hotels

Old Oct 25th, 2022, 12:11 PM
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Christmas in Chicago - Hotels

Hi Everyone,

My wife and I are making our 2nd visit to Chicago the first week in December (also our anniversary). She very much gets in the holiday spirit each Christmas, but wanted to do something special since she lost her mom last holiday season. So I want to make this trip as festive as possible.

I'm looking for a nice hotel right downtown that, if possible, has pretty views of the city and especially areas done up for the holidays. I can't do the Four Seasons or Ritz, but can swing $200+ a night if needed. I've been looking at the Pendry and LondonHouse, for example - places like that. And what areas of downtown are really lit up? I know the Mag Mile likely is, but what about Millennium Park? Or the river?

And any holiday activities we should check out while there, open to ideas there as well. It's just the 2 of us, no kids.

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old Oct 25th, 2022, 01:20 PM
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When we return to Chicago where we lived for several years, we always stay at the Sofitel. Few rooms per floor, excellent service, a block off of Michigan Avenue. It is above your price range however.
The Westin on Michigan Ave may have good prices. The big Hyatt Regency on Wacker Dr may offer some special rates too.
A Christmas tradition in Chicago is having lunch under the huge Christmas tree in the Walnut Room, now in Macys st State and Washington, in the Loop. It formerly was a Marshall Fields.
The Lincoln Park Zoo hosts Zoo Lights which we always enjoyed. Walk on Michigan Avenue after dark to see Christmas lights, magical! The official city tree is in Millenium Park near Michigan Avenue and Washington Street.

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Oct 25th, 2022 at 01:27 PM.
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Old Oct 25th, 2022, 02:40 PM
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Have you looked at the Talbott Hotel. I have recommended that to people who visit me in Chicago. A cozy hotel especially in winter with a fireplace in the lobby. Just a couple blocks off Michigan Avenue. A couple of nice but not break the bank or too touristy restaurants near there are Mia Francesca (the Chestnut Street location) and Osteria Pastaio.

A great Chicago tradition is the display of Christmas trees around the world at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Also the Zoo Lights in Lincoln Park Zoo. Near there I would recommend Mon Ami Gabi for restaurant.

Enjoy Chicago!
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Old Oct 26th, 2022, 01:29 AM
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Hi! Have a look at Hotel Blake (an Ascend Hotel Collection Member). Looks like it meets your needs. It is the 19th-century building on historic South Dearborn. If you book a corner room, you'll see the best of Chicago: the Willis Tower, the Harold Washington Library Center, and Lake Michigan.
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Old Oct 26th, 2022, 05:06 AM
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Thanks for all the responses, this is what I needed! With the hotel, I'd like to keep it under $300 a night so if there's a splurge that hasn't been mentioned yet, don't hold back!
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Old Oct 26th, 2022, 06:07 AM
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Hotel Blake sold out unfortunately - looks nice!
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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 09:05 AM
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I love the Drake. Great location on Michigan Avenue. The Christmas tree in the Lobby is always great. Coq d Or in the Drake is a great place for a meal/drink/people watching and has live entertainment on the weekend. The Chicago Hilton Suites on Delaware is near the Drake and is nice.
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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 02:27 PM
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I like the Omni - wanted to stay at the Drake one visit but it was booked up and ended up at the Omni. Great bedroom, linens etc.
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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 03:00 PM
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It's been years but I loved staying at the Knickerbocker.
(removing the TA review link)
I imagine it will be beautifully decorated for the holidays. I'm not a Chicago expert but it's one of my favorite hotels I've stayed in. I'll ask my SIL who IS from Chicago to see if she has other suggestions.
An aside - I think I know you. Sending a PM. Met via film locations.
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Old Oct 29th, 2022, 12:59 AM
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I am in Chicago about every 3-4 years. Stayed last month at the Peninsula, the Ritz before that, the 4S, Trump and Sofitel. Thought the Sofitel was quite nice and a better deal for the money although not quite up to the level of the Pen, Ritz or 4S.
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Old Oct 29th, 2022, 11:07 AM
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Have a great time in my hometown!
I would target hotels as far north as the Drake, only go as far south as the river and as far west as Dearborn.
The hotels just south of the river, but right on it, would be nice, too. If I am understanding you right, you are aiming for the $200-$300 range. That could be challenging. London House has great views but would be more like $350, for a basic room, view prices going up from there. The Hyatt Regency could work at $220 for a room with a view. I have not stayed there.

Hotel parking is usually $60 -$75 a night so I would recommend not renting a car. If you travel lightly you can take the train in from either airport for $5. We usually take a cab over an Uber, the wait times at the airports can be long. Once in the city, I would get a CTA 1 day pass for $5 or a 3 day pass for $15. Most of what you would want to do would be walkable, but the buses are easy to hop on if it is cold or if you want to venture further out. I probably would not go on the subway these days, unless it is rush hour.

Chicago is a huge foodie town, the Fulton Market area is crammed with wonderful choices, but you definitely need to get an Uber to get there. I would probably get reservations soon if you have something special in mind for dinner. For drinks with a view, the 95th in the John Hancock or the the J. Parker on top of Hotel Lincoln are really nice. All along the river would be pretty, too.

The Christkringel Market in Daley Plaza would be fun, The lights along Michigan avenue are great! Zoo Lights are very pretty and tickets are only $5, but you should make reservations. The Walnut room in the original Marshall Fields for lunch was a great suggestion, my grandma took me there every year. If you go there, make sure to see the domed Tiffany ceiling. Have a great time!
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Old Nov 1st, 2022, 02:23 PM
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My favorite is at the lower end of the budget. I love The River Hotel. It is a block west of Michigan Ave on Wacker Drive, along the River. I have never had a room without a beautiful view of the river. I always ask and have never been disappointed. You might want to mention your celebration when you make the reservation. The hotel itself is beautiful but not flashy. The rooms are small but functional.

I think that all of the events have been mentioned. There is a Tiffany dome in the Cultural Center that is beautiful and on in the Macy's on State Street. The last time that I was there, I took a Holiday Light Tour. It was a trolley that stopped at the Lincoln Park Zoo to see the lights and the Christkringel Market in Daley Plaza via Michigan Avenue. I don't remember the price but it was very enjoyable. My favorite restaurant is Volare on St Clair street. Nothing to look at from the outside but the inside is beautiful and the food is amazing.

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Old Dec 12th, 2022, 08:57 AM
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Just got back from our trip - thanks again to everyone who offered advice.

We ended up staying at the Sofitel and enjoyed it. I liked that it felt small and wasn't crazy busy. I splurged for the "best view guaranteed" room on the 26th floor and got a nice view of downtown buildings and the lake.

The first day we walked down Michigan Avenue, toward Millenium Park, saw all the lights and what not. Also went to Macy's to see the tree, and the Christkringel Market in Daley Plaza. Since it was Saturday night it was a mob scene, so we left and came back a few days later when it was more manageable. We also peeked in the lobbies of the Pelfrey Hotel and the Chicago Athletic Association. It was Christmas on steroids!

Day 2 we went to the Art Institute of Chicago since Bank of America card holders got in free. We had already seen the major exhibits on an earlier trip so we went to the temporary ones, which were ok - glad it was free. Always nice to see the building though. Afterwards, we went to the Chicago Architecture Center for their snow globe exhibit, which was kind of lame. We had taken CAC tours in the past but didn't have time this go round.

Day 3 we had a Chicago Greeter (an official and free program I'd never heard of) take us on a walking tour of Old Town. Some interesting homes and churches, but not much else. We then did some shopping and dining in Lincoln Park before going to the LP Zoo Xmas lights. Despite being free ticket night, it was not overly crowded. Wish the animals had been out but I can understand why they weren't. Beautiful view of downtown Chicago from there.

Day 4 we went to Chinatown and Pilsen, where we went to the fabulous National Museum of Mexican Art. We then went back to Christkringel Market as stated before, and my wife really liked it.

Day 5 (on our way to Milwaukee) we did some shopping in the Ukranian Village.

I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting but we covered a lot of ground. Thanks again!

Last edited by cdominey; Dec 12th, 2022 at 09:02 AM.
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Old Dec 13th, 2022, 04:04 PM
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Thanks for reporting back on your trip to Chicago ; glad it was successful!
We love the Sofitel for the same reasons you listed. Its smaller size and excellent service make for a nicer experience.

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Dec 13th, 2022 at 04:10 PM.
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