This massive property in the heart of the Loop underwent a $215-million renovation in 2014, but the lobby's wow-worthy ceiling mural preserves the original splendor. Guest rooms, which are more modern than glitzy, have a boutique-hotel feel. This is the longest continually operating hotel in the United States. It's also the place where brownies were invented in 1893, thanks to socialite Bertha Palmer's sweet tooth.
Tip: Enjoy afternoon tea in the lobby to experience a scene ripped right out of The Great Gatsby.
Jewel tones and plush, velvety fabrics drive the decor in each of the nearly 1,700 rooms, with even the Standard rooms a spacious size compared to other Chicago hotel rooms.
Want to splurge? Book an Executive Level Room and get free breakfast in the lounge plus evening drinks and snacks.
Timeless black-and-white design is in all baths, regardless of the room category. This includes white-marble flooring and shower walls, along with black-and-white framed photos.
A great spot to linger with your laptop or sip a drink at Lockwood Restaurant's bar (not just a bar but also with armchairs), the lobby's crystal chandeliers, frescos and gold accents everywhere are serious eye candy. It's also a nice reprieve from a chilly Chicago winter day.
The pool is within the hotel's three-story Health Club, on the eighth floor. Seating (arm chairs with cushions) is more comfy than your average poolside vibe.
One of downtown Chicago's most poshest spas, The Spa at Palmer House spans 9,000 square feet with a treatment menu that includes salon services, massages and facials. Spa junkies will love the Vichy shower and hydrotherapy tub.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The spa isn't just about pampering: a new offering is tanning services.
State-of-the-art equipment in the 5,000-square-foot spa is joined by class spacer. Personal trainers are also available.
Potter's Chicago Burger Bar serves, just like it sounds, nine signature burgers named for Windy City neighborhoods along with craft cocktails, shakes, salads and fries. Lockwood is the more glamorous cousin, offering a prix-fixe menu, all-day dining and more of a romantic atmosphere at night, although groups of any stripe are welcome, except maybe not restless children. Much of the food at Lockwood is locally sourced, including honey from the hotel's rooftop hive.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Stunned at Chicago's menu prices? Potter's Chicago Burger Bar keeps things frugal--but tasty--with burgers costing between $12.50-$14.
Cocktails and glasses of wine in the bar at Lockwood may be pricey but worth it at least once during your stay so you can people watch and soak up the hotel's extensive historical restoration.
Chicago's craft-scene is growing. Taste for yourself from any of the 13 "local beers" served at Lockwood's bar.
Public transit as well as your own two feet and, on chilly days, an Uber driver, are your best bet due to the hotel's central location to museums, restaurants and shopping in the Loop. Leave the car at home and don't splurge on a rental car as valet parking charges $79 per night.
Latinicity (5-minute walk) is a Latin-themed food hall that opened in 2015 with eight food stations, plus an all-you-can eat Sunday brunch. The Gage (5-minute walk), just around the corner from the hotel, serves upscale comfort food for lunch and dinner like fish and chips or Idaho rainbow trout in lobster sauce, and boasts one of Chicago's most extensive wine lists. Happy hour (late-night bites and drink specials) kicks in at 8 p.m.
Chicago's rooftop scene is hot--even in winter. Cindy's (5-minute walk) in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is open year-round with spiked potions and elixirs that continually draw the cool crowd. Hearkening back to the Al Capone days, Brando's Speakeasy (7-minute walk) evokes the 1920s with nightly karaoke and an impressive menu of retro-tinged martinis and cocktails.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Staying true to its historical roots but not charging an arm and a leg for overnight stays, Palmer House Hilton is a great example of a smart-luxury hotel with all you need under one roof (spa, gym, restaurant and bar). Service is impeccable, but not stuffy, and entering the lobby makes you feel like royalty, or at least coaxes you to step into 1920s glam.