Past meets present at these new and revamped hotels in the Windy City.
Between notable openings and large-scale renovations at some of the city's best hotels, downtown Chicago is now peppered with no less than seven exciting new places to stay between the Gold Coast and the Cultural Mile. At each, the roots of Chicago's rich architectural history and community-centric culture intersect with its unmistakably Midwestern hospitality. Checking in, you'll find stellar service, standout restaurants, and of course, plenty of Instagram-worthy views.
For its latest property, Viceroy disassembled and painstakingly restored the former Cedar Hotel, a 1920s-era brick-and-terra-cotta structure. Above, it erected a gleaming new 18-story glass tower with dramatically angled floor-to-ceiling windows, so guests can enjoy sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the city’s skyline from many of the 180 rooms. But the biggest draw may be the restaurants: at Somerset, James Beard Award nominee Lee Wolen turns out upscale comfort food like duck-leg gnochetti, and at the indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge, Devereaux, the daiquiris flow freely.
To book: viceroyhotelsandresorts.com; doubles from $305
This boutique-hotel-hostel hybrid is modeled after one of the city’s traditional field houses — indoor recreation centers for those cold winters. No detail has been overlooked, from the second story’s floor-to-skylight assemblage of vintage sports equipment to the basement game room’s custom slot-car tracks. It’s the type of place where everything’s got a story — which the super-friendly staff is happy to tell. Private rooms and shared hostel-style dorms are available, and groups will love the apartment-like suites with bunk beds and mini kitchens.
To buy: fieldhousejones.com; doubles from $75
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago
Following a $100 million, 18-month renovation, this 434-room icon (which was managed by Four Seasons until 2015) has fresh energy and a renewed sense of place. It all starts in the 12th-floor lobby, which has shed its dated décor in favor of a modern design that’s meant to evoke Chicago’s architecture. The space now houses a buzzy bar, a café, and a dramatic, Lake Michigan–inspired mobile. Other new amenities include a club lounge and an expanded spa and fitness center where you can gaze out over Navy Pier from the treadmill.
To buy: ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $329
Steps from Michigan Avenue, Conrad Hotels debuted a 287-room property in November 2016. The 20th-floor lobby welcomes guests with midcentury-inspired décor — plush, burnt orange furniture, warm beech wood, and bronze finishes — but smart amenities like virtual check-in and keyless room entry are decidedly 21st-century. The rooms are models of intuitive design with Nespresso materials and personal refrigerators cleverly tucked away in the cabinetry, and guests can text the hotel staff with needs and questions. Even the restaurants are teched out: at the bourbon-centric Baptiste & Bottle, there’s a virtual reality cocktail experience on the menu for serious whiskey enthusiasts.
To book: conradchicagohotel.com; doubles from $325
The Blackstone, Autograph Collection
Set in a 1910 Beaux-Arts building, this downtown stunner is equal parts hotel and gallery, with more than 1,600 works by local artists on display. Noteworthy pieces include hand-cut-stencil paintings by David Soukup and Michael Hernandez de Luna’s fake stamp sheets. In addition to the art, this year’s $12 million refresh brought a more modern look to each of the 335 guest rooms. That’s not to say that the hotel’s past has been forgotten: the lobby still has its original crown molding and brass-paneled elevators, and in-room notepads are printed with doodles left by former presidential guests, including JFK and Teddy Roosevelt.
To buy: theblackstonehotel.com; doubles from $189
Ace Hotel Chicago
Given the brand’s track record and millennial clientele, it should come as no surprise that Ace chose to open in a renovated turn-of-the-century cheese factory in the emerging Fulton Market District, right across from Google’s Chicago offices. In the 159 guest rooms, styled by Commune Design, you’ll find an uncluttered sense of comfort: warm, handwoven textiles, steel-pipe furniture, and the company’s signature turntables. And though the hotel is within walking distance of some of Chicago’s top restaurants (such as Roister and Girl & the Goat), don’t overlook City Mouse, the lobby restaurant, which serves burgers and a killer brunch seven days a week.
To buy: acehotel.com; doubles from $249
The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Just north of the river, the Gwen offers a prime location for shopping — Michigan Avenue is just around the corner, and a Nordstrom-anchored mall is a mere sky bridge away. This year’s multimillion-dollar remodel is accordingly stylish. Each of the 311 spacious rooms and suites has been outfitted with sleek, gilded furniture, granite-lined bathrooms, and custom murals that mirror the building’s exterior sculptures, carved by the Chicago-born artist Gwen Lux in 1928.
To buy: thegwenchicago.com; doubles from $199