While easy to avoid during winter months, Chicago turns a new leaf come summer, thanks to beachfront activities, vibrant street fests, outdoor concerts, and patios galore. The arrival of a host of new hotels that span price ranges and neighborhoods only makes that trip easier. From the history-rich to the modern-day newcomers, here are six new Windy City spots worth a visit.
The Conrad Chicago
Opening late July 2016
Technology meets style in this 20-story hotel in the city’s River North neighborhood. Guests can use a state-of-the-art digital key system to check in via their smartphone—although they may not want to miss doing it the old-fashioned way in the 20th-floor lobby, where they can catch a glimpse of the property’s two-story atrium. Visitors have the choice of three restaurants helmed by chef Richard Sandoval, including an American eatery (Baptiste & Bottle), a contemporary Japanese rooftop experience (Noyane), and a ground-floor Italian café (Il Tavolino).
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The Kimpton Gray Hotel
Opening summer 2016
Located in the former New York Life Insurance Building—one of the most historic structures in the city—this 293-room luxury boutique hotel retains plenty of the original building's grandeur. Guests can check out Latin American–inspired Lola Braza under a retractable glass roof on the 15th floor, or peruse the extensive selection of wines and spirits at Vol. 39 on the second floor. Beyond hotel doors, visitors need not travel far to get a taste of Chicago—the property is just footsteps away from Willis Tower, the Magnificent Mile, and Millennium Park.
Chicago Athletic Association
Roman & Williams is behind the dreamy design and overhaul of this Mag Mile property, which originally opened its doors for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Five dining options span its floors, including a retro cocktail lounge from Land and Sea Dept. (The Game Room) and a James Beard Award–winning fine foods concept (Cherry Circle Room). For a true spectacle, head up to Cindy’s, which offers unparalleled views of Millennium Park and biweekly fireworks during the summer. Offset all the delicious food and drinks with some calorie-burning activities, including jogging routes led by On Your Mark personal trainers and tandem bike rentals from Chicago-based Heritage Bicycles.
Virgin Hotel Chicago
Fans of Virgin Airlines are in store for an exciting stay at the brand’s first hotel, located in the city’s Loop neighborhood. Patented lounge beds with adjustable corner seating make breakfast in your pajamas easier than ever, but chicken and waffles and tres leches French toast at Miss Ricky’s restaurant might be reason enough to throw on some sneakers. If you like to travel avec animaux, this is the spot for you. In addition to pet-friendly rooms (appropriately guarded by faux canine figurines), the hotel has a Pet Birthday Party program, complete with a doggie bar, doggie bag, and birthday cake created by chef de cuisine Rebecca LaMalfa. Let the pet fetes begin!
Opening late May 2016
Nestled within a landmarked building built in 1923, this luxury hotel preserves the foundation’s Art Deco architecture, while also adopting a 1920s-inspired design throughout the 452 rooms from Simeone Deary Design Group. The building’s name pays homage to the celebrated jazz club it once housed, which hosted the likes of Ramsey Lewis, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans. Weekend rooftop revelers, rejoice: the property will also be home to Chicago’s first (and only) tri-level bar and rooftop terrace, because nothing at this showstopping property is done at a small scale.
Opening May 2016
Housed in the historic McGraw-Hill building, which was built in 1928 and rebuilt in 2000,this property is the newest member of Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ Luxury Collection group. Several Art Deco elements can be found throughout the property, including the exterior’s zodiac bas-relief sculptures created by famed artist Gwen Lux, who served as an inspiration for the hotel’s design. Sculpture is such an influence that an art and sculpture exhibit is on display in the lobby, a fifth-floor space for guests to unwind and enjoy full service from Circa restaurant and bar.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Chicago Guide