In 2016 the hotel from Ian Schrager rebranded from Public Chicago to Ambassador Hotel. Walking into this 285-room hotel--inside a 1926 historical building with ornate crown-molding and other architectural details--is akin to entering an upscale nightclub (yes, even at daytime), mostly because the attractive employees look like fashion models. Even so, this hotel is the real deal, with stylish and spacious rooms; a restaurant and bar; and a cozy library-type lounge to enjoy morning coffee and pastries. Celebrity Suites are named for famous Chicagoans and public personalities who once stayed in the building, from Michael Jordan to Frank Sinatra.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Pets require a $75 one-time, non-refundable fee.
All rooms are filled with unique decor such as Millennial-pink and navy-blue shag throw pillows, black-and-white art that resembles the Rorschach test, and splashy brightly colored art, too. Custom lighting and ergo-appropriate desks are suitable for working. While suites are the creme de la creme, even the more standard rooms are spacious in size.
Need room to spread out? Some of the Loft suites include a pull-out sofa bed--but you need to put in the request. One-bedroom suites automatically include a pull-out sofa bed.
Custom corian sinks in the baths flaunt clean lines and tons of countertop space. A floating glass shelf above provides even more room. White subway tile on the walls is a timeless decor accent. Replica toiletries are right on brand with their minimal black-and-white packaging design.
The lobby literally gleams with the white columns, white floor tile and exquisite crown molding. Khaki sofas are a comfy welcome when checking in. Off to one side is the Library, a spot to relax with coffee or tea, or breakfast (plus weekend-only lunch).
A 24/7 fitness center is on the lobby level, perfect for combining with a walk or run outdoors.
Require more of a gym? Day passes to Equinox Fitness, which is a half-mile away, cost $25.
Booth One Restaurant--in the former Pump Room, which thankfully continues to channel 1920s cool--serves weekday lunch and nightly dinner. Framed black-and-white photos of celebs and musicians who once ate here, including Frank Sinatra, are hung on the walls. The dinner menu is rich in lobster (from carpaccio to risotto) but also features "cheeseburger twins" and filet mignon from Oregon, along with enough vegetable sides to cobble together a vegetarian meal. Food skews more casual in the Library--breakfast until 11:30 a.m. features coffee drinks and hot items like a breakfast sandwich.
Lunch is served in the Library Saturday and Sunday, a nice perk for weekend guests.
Cocktails at Booth One are a splurge, both in price and quality, including a Harvest Sidecar with allspice, applejack, Combier and spiced pear. A line-up of after-dinner drinks dials it back to the middle of last century with Golden Cadillac and Pump Room Grasshopper, just two of the options. Wine lovers will enjoy the curated selection of wines by the glass.
Lake Michigan's shoreline and green space is five blocks east of the hotel. Uber and Lyft drivers aren't difficult to locate. Many bars, restaurants, clubs and luxury boutiques are within walking distance of the hotel. To get to downtown, the Loop or River North, hop on the 151 bus at Lake Shore and Goethe. The hotel's $67 nightly parking fee is steep, when compounded by a multiple-night stay, and given the location, you really don't need a car.
For something different than deep-dish Chicago-style pizza, head to Happy Camper Pizzeria (9-minute walk) in Old Town, a super-casual pizza spot (with signature pies named after boy names, like "Tim," pepperoncini, pepperoni and marinara) that also serves brunch. Velvet Taco (5-minute walk), a Texas import, serves tacos until late, from meat-heavy renditions to the Nashville Hot Tofu.
Dance the night away at The Hangge-Uppe (4-minute walk) or, for a more chill vibe, sip cocktails at The Library (11-minute ride) among vintage-library decor.
WHY WE LIKE IT
If you're into clubbing and like to mingle with beautiful people then this retro-tinged luxury hotel is a smart choice. But its location wins out, too, as a hotel on a quieter street than you would find downtown or in the Loop. Rooms are spacious and the on-site noshing and imbibing are destinations in and of themselves.