This 1927 hotel has had a number of identities—including a 1970s stint as the Playboy Hotel and Towers under owner Hugh Hefner. These days the guest rooms--often at an affordable rate compared to other Gold Coast hotels--sport a gold, beige, plum, and espresso color palette and the property caters to families as well as couples. The luxury here extends to the service: guests can put their shoes outside the door at night and they'll be shined by morning, free of charge. Downtime is well spent in the Martini Bar, which offers seasonally inspired cocktails and live jazz piano most nights, or at NiX, a farm-to-table restaurant that celebrates seasonal ingredients.
Each room is stocked with a coffee and tea maker, minibar and chic red-and-cream decor that includes a padded headboard that's great for reading in bed. There are also three suite categories if you want to spread out even more, with the largest being the 1,400-square-foot Knickerbocker Suite. Framed black-and-white photos of Chicago--paired with gold, green, fuchsia and maroon accents in the furnishings, linens and pillows--are a nice touch in all rooms.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The Standard Room is just like it sounds--standard. The 276-square-foot room is very small. Upgrade for only $20 more a night with the Superior Room, which includes an armchair and side table plus 100 more square feet.
Rooms are cloaked in ivory and ebony marble, plus dark-wood accents, for a very urban aesthetic. Fixtures in the shower have been modernized.
The lobby is staffed with a concierge eager to give tips for dining, drinking and shopping in the area. A mezzanine level and chandelier hanging from the soaring ceiling (casting a soft glow at night) makes the lobby appear bigger than its actual size.
Although the fitness center is small--and doesn't boast bird's-eye-views from floor-to-ceiling windows like some of downtown Chicago's grand hotels--everything you need in terms of equipment and machines is here. And access is included at no extra cost to the room rate.
The NiX is the hotel's bistro-style restaurant, its chefs sourcing ingredients from regional farms whenever possible. Only breakfast and lunch are served--no dinner. Fare ranges from, at breakfast, light options such as granola and smoothies to heartier selections (breakfast pizza or eggs benedict) and then, at lunch, highly customizable options like the DIY burger, a vegetarian-only small-plates menu and ethnically fused small plates such as chicken "pho" meatball lettuce wraps.
Step into the 1920s at the hotel's Martini Bar, serving--of course--martinis with cool names like "James Bond," along with Chicago craft beers on tap. Wine lovers can choose from 30-some selections.
Due to the Gold Coast location, you definitely don't need a car to travel to museums and cultural attractions (most are within a 10-minute drive north and south, also along the lakefront). To reach the Lincoln Park Zoo, just take the 151 bus north from North Michigan Avenue, or the 146, 147 or 151 buses south toward the Field Museum. Lyft and Uber drivers are always around. The nearest L stop is the Chicago stop, a 10-minute walk from the hotel at Chicago and State.
Get another taste of 1920s bar life at the Coq d'Or inside The Drake Hotel (3-minute walk), where live jazz often fills the space. Rush Street is a bar-lined street with no shortage of watering spots, and most of Chicago's dance clubs are in River North. One example: Studio Paris Night Club (10-minute drive), with resident DJs and open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Offering rates that seem like a bargain compared to their Gold Coast contemporaries, this hotel also hosts a restaurant and cool 1920s-themed martini bar. Rooms are bright and contemporary, and fresh off a facelift. The location is key as you're within a 10-minute ride--and, often, just a few blocks' walk--from bars, restaurants, museums and performing-arts theaters.