For EXPO Chicago 2018 (September 27–30), we’re providing an online edition of Whitewaller. For those traveling to the city, we’re sharing tips on where to see art, eat and sip, and stay. Below, we’re sharing our roundup of top hotels to enjoy while in town.
Chicago Athletic Association
The Chicago Athletic Association hotel, across from Millennium Park, opened as a 241-room luxury boutique hotel after a two-year restoration in 2015. The thriving space, spanning over 17,000 square feet of event and meeting space, provides a multitude of lively spaces: Cindy’s, a rooftop restaurant; a Game Room full of complimentary recreational sports, such as billiards, shuffleboard, and bocce ball; two stunning ballrooms on the hotel’s 8th floor; and the former Athletic Association gym—completely transformed into a nearly 4,500-square- foot multipurpose space. As prominent sports families once founded it as an athletic association, the hotel’s sports-driven heritage continues to be celebrated while offering outstanding restaurants, ballrooms, and lounges.
Whitewaller recommends: Stopping by Chicago’s second Shake Shack, located on the ground floor.
Created by Sydell Group and designed in collaboration with Roman and Williams, Freehand Chicago is the second iteration of the brand. Opened in 2012, the hotel is home to innovative design, thoughtful food and beverage offerings, and craftsman-inspired details on every floor. With both private and shared spaces for guests spread over 452 beds and 215 rooms, the hotel also offers two penthouses and Café Integral by César Vega.
Whitewaller recommends: Enjoying after-dinner cocktails at Broken Shaker.
Located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, The Gwen welcomes guests to a sweeping 51,000-square-foot space with 311 rooms. In addition to 1920s- and Art Deco-inspired details by Simeone Deary, the elegant DiamondRock Hospitality hotel showcases artistic aspects of and inspired by Gwen Lux—the female sculptress, responsible for works on the façade of the building, who the hotel is named after.
Whitewaller recommends: Sipping the Gwen Lux cocktail at the fifth-floor terrace lounge, Upstairs at The Gwen.
Taking its name from Robey Street, The Robey is an 89-room hotel stretching over two historic buildings: Tower Rooms, with the Landmark Queen, Urban King, Corner Suite, and Panorama suite, as well as lobby and roof spaces; and The Robey’s 20 multi-bed Annex Loft rooms and multifunctional hall, including the Double Queen Loft, Queen and Twin Loft, and Queen and Bunk Loft.
Whitewaller recommends: Swimming in the pool, taking advantage of the complimentary bikes, and coffee and cookies in the lobby.
After a complete renovation last year by renowned designer Kara Mann, The Talbott has reopened as an international destination in Chicago. With exceptional guest rooms, meeting spaces, and a fitness studio, the hotel also offers bold food and flavors at 20 East and The Patio at 20 East.
Whitewaller recommends: Asking the concierge about local fitness, culinary, and shopping discounts on behalf of the hotel.
Since 2013, the Thompson Chicago has welcomed visitors to a sophisticated and cool 247-room hotel with top-tier facilities and amenities. Along with Tara Bernerd-designed spaces, a complimentary car service, and a 12,225-square-foot event space, the hotel also offers a loft-like lobby and Nico Osteria—a rustic Italian restaurant from One Off Hospitality Group. With culinary bites from Chef Bill Montage, the restaurant also offers treats from Pastry Chef Leah Omilinsky.
Whitewaller recommends: Not overlooking The Secret Stairway, with original murals from local and up-and-coming graffiti artists spanning over five floors, in partnership with Chicago Truborn.
Ace Hotel Chicago
Ace Hotel Chicago has invigorated the city with modern amenities and cultural activations—all for locals and guests alike. The hotel’s 159 rooms are complemented by: the in-house restaurant, City Mouse; the rooftop bar, Waydown; the garden rooftop event space, Prairie; the 1,992-square-foot space, Mahoney; a fitness center; and a gallery space. In addition, each room features art in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Whitewaller recommends: Taking photos in the classic photo booth.
FOUND Hotel Chicago
Located in River North, FOUND Hotel Chicago was a new addition to the city’s hospitality scene in late April. Under the new brand FOUND Hotels, it is the first of several launching around the country, with both private and shared rooms. With an aim to accommodate backpackers and business travelers alike with unique design, the hotel also offers creative food and beverage concepts with Delilah, The Nice Guy, Blind Dragon, and Poppy—all in partnership with L.A.-based hospitality group, The h.wood Group.
Whitewaller recommends: Sipping cocktails at Blind Dragon by Bar Director Justin Campbell.
The Peninsula Chicago
Since 2001, The Peninsula Chicago has treated visitors to an internationally-acclaimed space with 339 rooms. All are equipped with marble bathrooms (including a shower and a soaking tubs), a desk with a scanner and printer, tablet technology, a Nespresso machine, a window-side dining table, complimentary phone calls, same-day laundry service, a 24-hour fitness facility, and The Peninsula Spa—perfect for unwinding at after an unforgettable day. In addition to room service, the hotel also greets guests to several savory dining options, overseen by its Executive Chef Toni Robertson, including: The Lobby, Shanghai Terrace, Pierrot Gourmet, and Z Bar.
Whitewaller recommends: Reserving the 3,000-square-foot Peninsula Suite, equipped with a private terrace and Jacuzzi.