A quick stroll from Gold Coast's high-end boutiques from fashion labels like Escada and Burberry, the sophisticated yet comfortable Ritz-Carlton Chicago unveiled its $100-million facelift in 2017, a process that took 18 months. Just like its brand, the classy hotel specializes in showering guests with attention, and its rooms are spacious, with walk-in closets, separate dressing areas and only the best in adornments. A fitness center, indoor pool, spa services and tony Italian eatery are all under one roof.
Families are totally welcome at the hotel--and that includes the pool. Kids can even request a child-sized bathrobe in the room.
Mimicking Old Hollywood grandeur, the rooms' cream, platinum and black tones stay true to the Ritz-Carlton's brand. Picture windows beautifully frame views of Lake Michigan or the city skyline. In-room DVD players, plus smart TVs that can access your Netflix account, make "movie night" posh.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The top floors (rooms are on the 15th-30th floors) may sound nice for the Lake Michigan and city-skyline views but not when the wind blows, an odd feeling if you're not used to bunking in a skyscraper.
Marble bathrooms are well-lit (and a lighted make-up mirror keeps you looking good) and stocked with designer toiletries as well as thick, plush robes and slippers.
Don't just dash through the 12th-floor lobby--decked out in a glam 1920s decor theme--because it's loaded with museum-quality art, including works by Roy Lichtenstein and an art installation hovering from the ceiling built from Czech glass.
If you like to swim laps, this is your pool as there are four dedicated lap lanes.
Services that you'd expect at a spa are the bulk of treatments--facials, massages and body wraps--but what sets the 11th-floor spa apart from its downtown-Chicago competitors are the steam and sauna rooms, plus a dedicated salon space for manis and pedis.
If you can squeeze in a weekday visit to the spa, the savings are huge, such as 20% off manis and pedis on Wednesday. You'll also avoid the crowds and get more personalized service.
Work out with a view of Navy Pier at the 24/7 fitness center that spans 2,700 square feet. A lengthy line-up of fitness classes ($20) are offered daily, whether you're into yoga, hip-hop dance or a mini boot-camp experience.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Yes, the property is family-friendly, but not in the fitness center. Kids must be 16 years old to take a class and cannot be in the pool without an adult.
New with the renovation, Torali serves indulgent pastas made in-house plus plenty of surf and turf options with an Italian bent.
YOU SHOULD KNOW If you're already facing sticker-shock in Chicago's toniest zip code and at one of the city's most expensive hotels, don't succumb to the Club Lounge access: it's $200 per day and only includes free snacks and drinks.
There's no need to rent a car because within a few blocks you have all that you need in terms of shopping (remember, Water Tower Place is connected to the Ritz-Carlton Chicago), restaurants and bars. Museums are either within a 15-minute walk or 20-minute ride. Buses (146, 147 and 151) running up and down North Michigan Avenue provide easy access to anywhere you want to go in the Loop.
Try the more casual cousin (salads, burgers and charcuterie platters) to Spiaggia's fancy dinners at the newly reopened Cafe Spiaggia (6-minute walk) under the same roof, run by James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano. Oprah's former chef whips up amazing brunches at the farm-to-table focused Blue Door Kitchen & Garden (15-minute walk).
Kick back with a pint of Guinness at the two-story Kerryman Irish Bar & Restaurant (15-minute walk) or dip back into 1920s Chicago over martinis at the famed Redhead Piano Bar (15-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
While part of the upscale Ritz-Carlton brand, this property's recent renovation comes with nice perks like a lap pool, spa, restaurant and two bars. Rooms are spacious and spa-like, creating a retreat within the city. The location puts you in the heart of the Gold Coast, a block off Michigan Avenue and a short stroll to the lakefront, too. To reach museums, theaters and other attractions is a trip of no more than 20 minutes in either direction.