On weekend nights the Peninsula's soaring lobby-level restaurant—aptly named the Lobby—becomes a sweet fantasia, centered on an overflowing chocolate buffet. Guest rooms are pretty sweet, too, with plush pillow-top beds and bedside consoles that control both the TV and the \"do-not-disturb\" light. One of three American branches of the venerable Hong Kong–based chain, Chicago's Peninsula Hotel features a rooftop lap pool enclosed in a Zen aerie with stunning views. Make time to enjoy the property's fitness center and award-winning spa or just linger over a traditional afternoon tea.
Don't just dismiss the Lobby as a "lobby." It's actually a Michelin-star restaurant.
Elegant to the last thread, each room's crisp white custom Pratesi linens (on top of pillow-top mattresses), navy accents and floral wallpaper doesn't look dated at all--instead, it's very modern. Pets are welcome, for a shockingly low rate of $50 (per pet) for the entire stay, so long as they weigh 30 pounds or less.
YOU SHOULD KNOW It's tempting to sign up for one of the hotel's Peninsula Academy "experiences" (private shopping or Cantonese cooking class) but you might balk at the cost. "Chicago by Air and Sea" runs $1,600 per person.
Black-granite countertops in the bath and a TV that's viewable from the bath tub make this a spa-like bath on many levels. Bathrobes and slippers are available in all rooms. Baths are stocked with L'Occitane toiletries.
From the street level, you zip up five floors to the lobby, which makes this high-ceiling space with gold relief everywhere feel like a private sanctuary. Afternoon tea is served here but so are cocktails by the fire and daily breakfast, lunch and dinner (substituting brunch for Sunday's lunch).
Surrounding the pool, on the 19th floor, are 20-foot tall walls of windows that coax in natural light. Even if you don't plan to wet, just reclining by the pool (the furniture is very comfy) is a treat. If you like to swim laps, then you'll love the pool's length (half the size of an Olympic pool).
Spanning the 19th and 20th floors, the hotel's spa is such an experience that to spend time here only for a massage or facial just doesn't cut it. The pool area spills out onto a Sun Terrace with chaises for one of the best (and secret) views of the city skyline.
Machines in the 24/7 fitness center are paired with a view, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The gym isn't solely for hotel guests. Memberships to the public grant access to the spa and fitness center, too, something to keep in mind.
Dinner at the Michelin-starred Lobby includes fine delicacies like Wagyu beef, duck breast or lamb loin. Shanghai Terrace capitalizes on the brand's Asian beginnings with elevated Chinese food (probably the fanciest in Chicago) and French cuisine is the specialty at Pierrot Gourmet, open from morning to night and mimicking a Parisian bistro.
Bars in the Lobby are a must, especially if you enjoy rare Scotch and whiskey, or even a good old-fashioned martini. A "bar bites" menu is perfect for sharing. Some of the cocktails at Shanghai Terrace are prepared with sake, for a fun twist, and the names for all are inspired by Asian culture, like Lychee, Bamboo and Orchid.
Right off of North Michigan Avenue, the hotel is surrounded by shopping, restaurants and cafes. Hop on the 147 or 151 bus along Michigan Avenue to travel to the Loop or downtown. You can also take an Uber or Lyft, which are prominent in this part of Chicago.
Stan's Donuts (7-minute walk) will blow your mind with the oddball (but delicious) varieties. RPM Steak is an Italian-esque steakhouse from celeb couple Bill and Giuliana Rancic.
Three Dots and a Dash (14-minute walk) is popular with locals for its Tiki drinks and easily staves off a cold evening in the Windy City. The Boarding House, in River North, owned by a master sommelier, boasts an impressive wine list and comfort-food-driven entrees.
WHY WE LIKE IT
One of only three Peninsula properties in the States (others are throughout Asia plus Paris), checking in here is like stepping into another city, with Shanghai dining, feng-shui decor and nothing short of glam (including the chocolate buffet). The staff's friendliness keeps the place from dipping into pretentiousness. You've got all you need under one roof for a fab vacation: spa, two restaurants (one of them Michelin-starred), fitness center and amazing public spaces filled with gorgeous art.