The Elysian Hotel
11 East Walton St.
The 60-story Elysian is a Lucien Lagrange-designed throwback to 1920s-style elegance, with plenty of the sort of old school detail that most new downtown buildings lack. The hotel features 188 rooms on the lower 26 floors, with private residences on the remaining upper floors. Rooms (and residences) are pricey, but it is worth a visit to experience Elysian’s two restaurants: Ria and the more casual Balsan.
111 W. Huron st.
This River North boutique hotel is as cool as its namesake cat. Opened in 2009 in a 1920s building, the hotel touts its eco-friendliness, “inspiring natural elements,” and overall happy vibe. The combination equals a gentle, calm, quiet and clean respite from the bustle outside.
225 N. Wabash Ave.
The boutique Hotel Monaco has been around for a while, but the interior was revamped last year, with stylish, updated rooms that emphasize the hotel’s prime location (river view rooms are recommended). The hotel’s ground-floor restaurant, South Water Kitchen, serves room service, but there are plenty of great restaurants, bars and walkable scenery in the surrounding area to beckon guests from their comfy quarters.
505 N. State Street
In the middle of the action in River North, the Hotel Palomar brings a contemporary vibe and 261 stylish guest rooms. The hotel is ideal for year-round visits, with an indoor heated pool for winter, and a summertime sundeck. The Palomar also boasts a dining destination that has become popular among townies, Sable Kitchen & Bar.
JW Marriott Chicago
151 W. Adams
Sometimes an old building takes a while to realize its best purpose, and that seems to be the case with the new JW Marriott Chicago. Daniel Burnham would be proud of the recent $396 million renovation of his Continental & Commercial National Bank Building. The broad, sweeping facade and open first floor space are ideally suited for what is now one of the best hotel lobbies in the city, and the location is well-suited for accommodating business travelers in the relatively underserved financial district. The hotel also features a 20,000 sq. ft. spa and wellness center.
La Quinta Inn & Suites
1 S. Franklin St.
La Quinta may be a large national chain, but the accommodations at this recent addition to the financial district don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. It is also one of the most affordable hotels in the Loop, filling a niche for business travel on a budget. Amenities may be limited, but with a location like this, there’s plenty to partake of nearby.
Public Chicago (formerly The Ambassador East Hotel)
1301 N. State Pkwy.
Hotelier Ian Schrager, originally known as part owner of the infamous New York nightclub Studio 54, adds an impressive property to his portfolio with the opening of Public Chicago, formerly the Ambassador East. The opening date is set for September 12 of this year, and will coincide with the much-anticipated renovation of the Pump Room. As determined by an online vote last month, the legendary restaurant will keep its name, which is a good thing, considering the alternative was “Gold Coast Kitchen.”
201 N. State St.
When it opened two years ago, theWit became instantly popular among locals for its 27th-floor outdoor space, Roof. The building is recognizable by its “witty” yellow vertical streak on the State Street facade. Room rates are generally very reasonable, and its signature restaurant Cibo Matto has become a popular destination for pre-show dining before shows at the Chicago, Oriental and Goodman theatres.
Greg Wahl is a Chicagoan, a freelancer, a grad student, and a seeker of all things awesome & interesting throughout the city and beyond.