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    Chicago

    Modern, dimly lit lobby

    Claridge House Chicago cuts ribbon open

    800 534 Hamish Kilburn

    The recent renovation of Claridge House Chicago, led by hospitality design and development firm The Gettys Group, is the latest in a series of boutique properties the firm has reimagined as residentially inspired “homes away from home”…

    Claridge House Chicago has cut its ribbon open to celebrate the reimagined interiors and newly launched brand.

    The Gettys Group has led the transformation of the 1920s hotel to unveil the 165-key Claridge House Chicago. The newly opened property features a design plan that is intimate, welcoming and in keeping with the neighborhood’s tony environs, ultimately evoking a contemporary Gold Coast Chicago residence.

    Oxford Capital Group enlisted The Gettys Group’s interior design team to lead the redesign of the property, which opened its doors in May 2018. The hotel’s prime Gold Coast location at 1244 N. Dearborn Parkway serves upscale leisure travellers, those visiting the city for business and locals seeking an elegant in-town escape.

    “Claridge House truly reflects the inviting atmosphere of the Gold Coast neighborhood,” says John W. Rutledge, founder, president, and chief executive officer of Oxford Hotels & Resorts, LLC and its parent company, Oxford Capital Group, LLC. “We wanted to create a place where both locals and those new to Chicago would be welcome, in one of the city’s most historic areas.”

    The 165 guestrooms, each uniquely inspired by a pied-à-terre theme, were curated to offer a sophisticated city apartment feel

    The property first opened in 1923 as the Claridge Hotel. It was renamed in 2005 as Hotel Indigo until this past May when it reopened as the Claridge House Chicago, paying homage to its historic past. Originally designed by Chicago architect Walter Ahlschlager, the initials “CH” and the Claridge name remain inscribed on the exterior of the 12-story building.

    The Gettys Group created a concept that was based on the property coming full circle and returning to its original name.

    “Our interior design team was charged with transforming the hotel’s look and feel into an intimate and curated residential aesthetic in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Ideally situated within walking distance from some of the city’s best shopping and dining, Claridge House delivers a sophistication that is as inviting as it is refined,” said Ben Nicholas, principal, The Gettys Group.

    The lobby features a custom chandelier comprised of silk-wrapped rings, which are a nod to the “coming full circle” inspiration. Custom millwork anchors the lobby with an elevated linear fireplace wrapped in marble and flanked in blonde oak with exquisite definition.

    Juniper Spirits & Oysters, the property’s new restaurant and lobby bar, offers guests delectably prepared seafood fare in a chic atmosphere designed to invite locals and travelers alike to sip, nibble and unwind.

    The 165 guestrooms, each uniquely inspired by a pied-à-terre theme, were curated to offer a sophisticated city apartment feel. Images of London were hung proudly in each room, reminding guests of the origins of the name Claridge.

    “We crafted Claridge House as a relaxed, yet refined space based on the property’s tagline, ‘Our House, You’re Home.’ It was important to our team that the design felt like an extension of the Gold Coast neighborhood,” said Ali Bacon, senior project designer, The Gettys Group. “The public areas exude a residential quality that encourages guests to congregate and relax, while the guest rooms provide the experience of a bedroom in a neighboring brownstone.”

    Reinforcing the hotel’s residential atmosphere, The Gettys Group’s interior design team installed accents and personal touches to the public areas with collected art and artifacts to emulate a living room at home. An art installation features travel photos from trips taken around the world that were gathered from hotel team members and the project team for the opening.

    A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday, July 26 to celebrate the reimagined space and newly launched brand.

     

    SOPHY Hotel, Chicago

    New boutique hotel, SOPHY, to open summer 2018 in Chicago

    974 450 Daniel Fountain

    SOPHY, the new 98-room boutique hotel in Chicago’s popular Hyde Park neighbourhood, is under construction and scheduled to open in summer 2018.

    Developed by SMART Hotels and managed by Olympia Hotel Management, SOPHY is located at 53rd Street and Dorchester Avenue on Chicago’s South Side, close to the site of the future Barack Obama Presidential Library, the University of Chicago campus and the Museum of Science and Industry.

    SOPHY will feature a bar, a restaurant with al fresco dining and a fitness centre. Designed as a four-diamond property and engineered to achieve LEED Silver certification, SOPHY will be a preferred hotel of the University of Chicago. The hotel is firmly rooted in the history of Hyde Park, famed as the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. In a neighbourhood in the midst of a dynamic revitalisation, SOPHY will play a central role. Earlier this month, Chicago was named the #1 Big City in the US in the Condé Nast Traveler 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards.

    Chicago-based GREC Architects is the project architect, with interior design from Stonehill & Taylor Architects of New York. The hotel is being built by William A Randolph of Gurnee, Illinois. SOPHY aligns with SMART Hotels and Olympia”s expertise in developing and managing independent, award-winning boutique properties that evoke a strong sense of place and become an integral part of the community.

    The name ‘SOPHY’ is rooted in the Greek word “sophia,” meaning wisdom and dedication to excellence through the pursuit of knowledge. It was inspired by the rich legacy of intellectual, artistic and cultural innovation that is part of the fabric of the University of Chicago and greater Hyde Park. Gospel music, science, mathematics, art and literature are the themes that will inform the hotel”s interior design. SOPHY will feature artwork from contemporary Chicago artists and design elements inspired by the World”s Columbian Exposition, including barn doors in the private dining space that use circular elements to suggest the world”s first Ferris Wheel, which debuted at the fair.

    The Robey Hall Hotel - Chicago

    The Robey Hall hotel opens in Chicago

    600 352 Daniel Fountain

    Artfully combining sophisticated minimalism with the industrial aesthetic of an early 20th-century warehouse, The Robey Hall puts guests at the heart of the action in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighbourhood.

    The hip younger sister property of The Robey offers up Modern American cuisine at the neighboring Café Robey, as well as rooftop cocktails with cityscape views at Up & Up and Cabana Club. High ceilings, exposed brickwork, and polished concrete floors in the 20 loft-style guestrooms are home to box-style beds in birch plywood and steel, while the open-plan lobby acts as a neighborhood hub with an ‘everybody welcome’ attitude.

    Originally opened as The Hollander, the property has undergone renovations to create a fluid extension of The Robey hotel, which is located in the adjoining Northwest tower. Housed in the former Hollander Fireproof Warehouse, which stands as a monument to Chicago’s industrial epoch, the structure’s industrial intentions provided French design studios Ciguë and Delordinaire with the inspiration for the hotel’s design concept.

    The Robey Hall’s 20 private rooms and suites all boast soaring 11-foot-high ceilings, as well as rough-textured brick walls. Beds rendered in crisp, blond-hued birch plywood and black steel are illuminated by Schoolhouse Electric bedside lamps and framed by custom-made folded steel shelving. Spanning between 260 and 390 square feet, each guestroom offers a sitting area, a workspace, and polished concrete floors.

    However, it is the communal spaces—complete with cement panel cladding, oak tables and touches of leather—that are the beating heart of the hotel. The hotel’s open-plan lobby lounge and bar H!Bar is dominated by a 27-foot-long wooden workbench by Delordinaire, and is also home to a Metric Coffee Co. espresso bar and bicycle hire shop in partnership with Tokyobike. A tucked-away neighborhood spot for Chicago natives and guest alike, the space is defined by design, curated house sounds, and vinyl. H!Bar and the Robey Lounge feature a progressive program of events and live music.

    From the ground up, the sixth-floor rooftop of The Robey Hall plays host to Cabana Club, a stylish poolside cocktail bar and sun deck with 180-degree views of the city’s skyline. The cocktail list of classic warmer-climes concoctions including palomas, caiprinhas, and micheladas to extend the summer vibes all year long, and is complemented by a selection of tostadas and skewers. Outside, a wood-burning fireplace and chilled-out soundtrack courtesy of regular DJ sets ensure that, at The Robey Hall at least, the Windy City has just become decidedly hotter.

    Chicago welcomes its newest mega hotel, Marriott Marquis

    Chicago welcomes its newest mega hotel, Marriott Marquis

    780 496 Daniel Fountain

    Big, tall, powerful and gleaming – the 40-floor, 1,205-room Marquis will be Chicago’s sixth-largest hotel when it opens on Sunday.

    After nearly two years of construction, Marquis embraces, perhaps even flaunts, its scope: Spaces are broad, the lobby ceiling reaches 30 feet, the restaurant serving three meals a day seats 400, and natural light floods in through floor-to-ceiling windows.


    In the era of boutique and lifestyle hotels, Marriott Marquis is sprawling and powerfully urban — albeit with the occasional boutique amenity, such as the ability to order room service on your phone and the art commissioned by 40 Chicago artists. Many of the pieces have QR codes for more information about the art and the artist.

    Chicago welcomes its newest mega hotel, Marriott Marquis
    The Chicago property marks Marriott’s seventh Marquis hotel in its portfolio. Each is located in a major city and has 1,000 or more guest rooms and at least 90,000 square feet of event space. It is the largest new hotel in the Marriott chain to open this year anywhere on the planet.

    Embassy Suites by Hilton - Chicago

    Embassy Suites by Hilton completes renovation of Chicago O’Hare Rosemont hotel

    850 566 Daniel Fountain

    Officials of The Dow Hotel Company (DHC), a leading national hotel owner/investor and operator, has announced the completion of the $10 million (£7.7 million) renovation of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport – Rosemont.

    The renovation focused on all aspects of the hotel, including guest rooms, public spaces and back-of-house areas.

    The renovation enhanced virtually all aspects of the hotel. Guest rooms received fresh soft goods, upholstered furniture and artwork. All guest baths gained new tiling, while some were converted to stand-up showers.

    Public spaces were completely redone, including alterations to the atrium, pool, fitness centre, lobby, elevators and employee locker rooms. The business centre was upgraded to Embassy Suites by Hilton’s Connectivity Zone with modern furniture. The two executive boardrooms received new tables, wood work, refrigerators and televisions.

    Exterior hotel improvements range from building enhancements to completely redone landscaping.

    The Blackstone to join Autograph Collection

    Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel joins Autograph Collection

    1000 599 Daniel Fountain

    Autograph Collection Hotels, part of Marriott International, has announced The Blackstone will join the brand’s diverse and distinguished portfolio of more than 100 independent hotels around the world on June 7, 2017. A hallmark of hospitality and history in the Windy City, the hotel shares the brand’s values of vision, design and craft and it’s ‘exactly like nothing else’ mantra.

    “The Blackstone has found its home as part of Autograph Collection Hotels given its rich history, exceptional design and iconic reputation,” said Julius Robinson, Vice President and Global Brand Lead, Autograph Collection Hotels. “Our one-of-a-kind hotels are known for providing differentiated, standout guest experiences, and we are thrilled to welcome global travelers and Chicago locals alike to this latest addition to our dynamic portfolio.”

    Following the hotel’s large scale architectural restoration of $139 million (£107 million) in 2008, this multi-million dollar renovation led by Chicago-based firm The Gettys Group refreshes the original work of renowned Chicago architectural firm Marshall and Fox, highlighting the early twenty-first century grandeur and craftsmanship while incorporating state-of-the-art technology and modern amenities. A Chicago landmark on the city’s Cultural Mile along Michigan Avenue, the hotel’s refreshed interior design carries through to the hotel’s 335 guestrooms and suites, which feature marble accents, plush bedding and dynamic textiles. Upgraded accommodations up the ante with unobstructed views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan spanning from Navy Pier to Soldier Field.

    “The Blackstone has long been the cornerstone of hospitality in Chicago,” says Kim Corrigan, General Manager of The Blackstone. “The opportunity to join Autograph Collection Hotels amplifies this same distinctly hospitable and cultural spirit coupled with the unique design elements of our architecturally-stunning property.”

    The creative spirit of The Blackstone is brought to life through uniquely-curated art pieces by more than 1,600 local artists placed throughout the hotel, including in the Art Hall, guest rooms and public spaces, as well as woven throughout various guest touchpoints including the bespoke room keys, in-room amenities, and more.

    A NOTABLE AND NOTORIOUS HISTORY IN THE HEART OF CHICAGO
    Living up to its distinction as the “Hotel of Presidents” for over 100 years, The Blackstone has hosted US presidents and foreign dignitaries, scandalous political and mob exchanges, a star-studded array of actors, and more than a dozen movie productions. In 1920, The hotel became known for the Smoked Filled Suite following the Republican Party leaders’ secret meeting to nominate Warren G. Harding as their candidate for president.

    Additionally, the hotel’s Suite of Presidents saw the likes of President Dwight Eisenhower watching his nomination for president from the room in 1952, and President John F. Kennedy preparing for DC negotiations on the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In turn, The Blackstone also became known as the location of Chicago gangster Al Capone’s barbershop, nestled below street level in a “barbershop” lounge that still remains today.

    The hotel honours these illustrious and notorious tales through “Back in the Day” Turn Down & Other Stories available in each room, encouraging guests to create their own history while staying at The Blackstone Hotel.

    theblackstonehotel.com

    autograph-hotels.marriott.com

    www.gettys.com

    Design Hotels - Sir Adam, Amsterdam

    Design Hotels presents six new members across four continents

    998 597 Daniel Fountain

    On a continued quest to discover the unique and inspired, Design Hotels has scoured the globe and selected six new member properties, spanning four continents.

    Complementing a curated portfolio of over 290 member hotels, the new additions epitomise the ethos and values that Design Hotels holds dear — from effortless living paired with mindful design to the regeneration of treasured buildings.

    Starting in Design Hotels’ home city of Berlin, Provocateur — a collaboration between three Design Hotels Originals, Micky Rosen and Alex Urseanu from Roomers and Liran wizman from SIR hotels—draws inspiration from 1920s Paris and its buzzing Charlottenburg neighborhood. The latest addition to the SIR hotels stable, Sir Adam, is a cultural, artistic, and culinary gathering place in the new heart of Amsterdam.

    With a spectacular waterfront setting, the Altis Belém Hotel & Spa acts as a gateway to old and new Lisbon. Across the pond, Chicago’s iconic Coyote Building plays host to The Robey, which has already established itself as a hip neighborhood spot for locals and guests alike. A heritage building also forms the foundations of Singapore’s The Warehouse Hotel, housed in a turn-of-the-century godown on the banks of Robertson Quay. In the South Korean capital, GLAD Live Gangnam’s 210 rooms and suites are design-conscious hubs for the stylish at heart.

    Provocateur
    Set in Berlin’s pulsing Charlottenburg district, Provocateur seduces guests with fusion cuisine, 58 lavish rooms, and an award-winning bar concept. The interiors mix 1920s Paris with the urban Berlin of today—think twinkling chandeliers, low lighting, contemporary artworks, and velvet curtains—while the building is a perfect picture of the neighbourhood’s archetypal modern-style Art Nouveau architecture.

    Design Hotels - Provocateur, Berlin

    Sir Adam
    ICRAVE, the renowned New York-based design studio, is responsible for Sir Adam’s 108 guestrooms and The Butcher Social Club, a full-service “living lobby” open 24/7. Inspired by the its achingly cool neighbors, including Sony and Gibson, music plays a huge role in Sir Adam’s aesthetic and cultural concept, from the curated music library to the Crosley Cruiser record players in each room.

    Design Hotels - Sir Adam, Amsterdam

    Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
    Given its striking architecture and enviable waterfront location, wedged between the dramatic Monument to the Discoveries and the fairytale-esque Torre de Belém, it comes as no surprise that Altis Belém Hotel & Spa has swept up a multitude of awards already. Facing either the Tagus River or the marina, the cool simplicity of the hotel’s 50 rooms and suites is lifted by custom-created wall panels depicting scenes inspired by Portugal’s former colonial outposts.

    Design Hotels - Altis Belem Spa and Resort

    The Robey
    Set in the Coyote Building, which was originally designed by the iconic Chicagoan firm Perkins, Chatten & Hammond, each of the hotel’s 69 light-filled rooms, lobby, and roof spaces have been transformed by Belgian design duo Nicolas Schuybroek Architects and Marc Merckx Interiors. The Art Deco façade of The Robey is bookmarked by the ground-floor Café Robey.

    The Robey, Chicago

    The Warehouse Hotel
    Encompassing a meticulously renovated turn-of-the-century godown, on the banks of Robertson Quay, the inspiration for the hotel’s design language came from the building itself. The unique structure from the late 19th century once stood in the midst of a hotbed of secret societies, underground activities, and liquor distilleries. The restored heritage building is a proud illustration of old and new thanks to the award-winning local agency Asylum. Original details like the triple-pitched roof and raw brick stand alongside a custom-made light in the lobby made of wheels and pulleys, and tailor-made, single-unit copper wall pieces that unify the rooms by integrating everything from desk to wardrobe.

    Design Hotels - The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

    GLAD Live
    Offering a “curated lifestyle” that is in full harmony with Seoul’s chic nightlife offerings, the 210 rooms and suites are design-conscious hubs for the stylish at heart. Culture and entertainment are at the core of the GLAD Live Gangnam experience, with the hotel’s afterhours club, DStar, and its lush EDM music and 3D projection mapping, intensifying one’s escape into music and the moment.

    Design Hotels - GLAD Live
    designhotels.com

    Canopy by Hilton - Chicago

    Canopy by Hilton says ‘hello’ to Chicago

    900 553 Daniel Fountain

    Canopy by Hilton has unveiled plans to develop a Canopy by Hilton in Chicago. Residing at the southwest corner of South LaSalle Street and West Adams Street in Chicago’s Loop neighbourhood, the 223-room Canopy property will be the ideal location for both business and leisure travellers.

    Slated to open in Autumn 2018, at 208 S. LaSalle, Canopy by Hilton Chicago Loop was designed as a natural extension of Chicago’s downtown neighborhood with local design influences and natural materials used throughout the hotel’s architecture and interiors. The hotel’s entrance will be on La Salle Street with its reception area, restaurant, bar, and Canopy Central lobby located on the 20th level. The hotel also will feature a fitness centre, a day transfer lounge, 4,000 square feet of meeting space, and a rooftop terrace and bar.

    “We are delighted to bring the Canopy by Hilton brand to the thriving Loop neighbourhood, in the heart of the Financial District,” said Michael W. Reschke, Chairman and CEO of The Prime Group. “With convenient proximity to Chicago’s central business district, dining, shopping, the theater district, and Canopy’s dedication to comfort and service, our Canopy by Hilton hotel will be a natural choice for both business and leisure travelers looking for a true Chicago experience.”

    The Canopy by Hilton Chicago Loop will be a conversion of the top four floors of the historic landmarked building by Daniel Burnham at 208 S. LaSalle, which also houses the new 610-key JW Marriott with its entrance at 161 W. Adams. Canopy’s room will be spacious with an average of 480 square feet, wood floors, 60” HDTVS and large bathrooms with walk-in showers and private toilet compartments, as well as many one and two-bedroom corner suites.

    The Robey to open in Chicago

    1000 608 Daniel Fountain

    In a city revered for bold architectural wonders and soaring skylines, come November, a landmark 1929 Art Deco masterpiece will see a soulful revival befitting the Windy City.

    Perched high above the six corners of Damen, Milwaukee, and North Avenue, The Robey stands stoically as the only skyscraper for kilometres, stretching 61-metres high and home to 69 guest rooms, Café Robey, a second-floor lounge, a guest-only rooftop lounge, and, come 2017, an exclusive rooftop pool. With the pedigree of Grupo Habita behind the project, so too comes a confident stroke of modern yet timeless hospitality.

    The Robey, Chicago

    Taking its name from Robey Street—the north-south artery now known as Damen Avenue, where Wicker Park and Bucktown meet—The Robey captures the storied spirit of Chicago: a bustling, ever-changing, big-shouldered town. A unique triangular prism shape ensures that The Robey stands out as one of the neighbourhood’s most recognisable landmarks. Although formally called the Northwest Tower, the building is nicknamed the Coyote Building due to its “howling” appearance, some say. Glass, natural wood, concrete, and chrome—the textures vary, but the minimalistic approach remains consistent throughout guestrooms and public spaces.

    Originally designed as an office building by the firm of Perkins, Chatten & Hammond, each of the hotel’s light-filled rooms, lobby, and roof spaces were transformed by Belgian design duo Nicolas Schuybroek Architects and Marc Merckx Interiors. The 12-storey building dons an Art Deco façade of original limestone and features a rooftop cupola and lantern, as originally designed by the Chicago-based firm.

    The Robey, Chicago

    Thanks to the unusual triangular footprint of the building, front-row views of the lively city feature prominently, as does an abundance of natural light. Herringbone hardwood floors contrast with Art Deco references in many of the rooms and suites, while bathrooms and bedrooms are separated by walls of vintage chicken-wire glass. Furniture ranges from sleek and streamlined to inviting and contemporary, with minimalism reigning throughout.

    The 69 rooms are generously split across twelve floors, with only six or seven per floor. Rooms and suites range from 20 to 63 sqm, and all feature a shower and a king-size bed, apart from the 20-to 24 sqm Landmark Queen room that features a queen-size bed. The Corner and Panorama Suites and the Landmark Queen room also boast a sitting area, with the former two also playing host to a working desk. All rooms and suites also offer views of the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods, while The Panorama Suite affords 180-degree views of Chicago’s skyline.

    Sitting at the epicentre of Chicago’s Wicker Park and Bucktown neighbourhoods—a pair of arts and culture-obsessed communities—the hotel’s ethos follows suit with social sensibilities front and centre. Communal spaces abound, showcasing terrazzo, natural woods, and hues of deep red, green, white, and gray.

    LondonHouse, Chicago by Curio

    Highly anticipated LondonHouse, Chicago opens doors to guests

    1020 500 Daniel Fountain

    Today, Oxford Capital Group’s wholly owned management affiliate Oxford Hotels & Resorts and Curio – A Collection by Hilton™ proudly announce the eagerly-awaited opening of LondonHouse Chicagoat the corner of North Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

    Curio by Hilton has announced the opening of the LondonHouse, Chicago in association with Oxford Hotels and Resorts.

    Originally opened as the London Guarantee Building in 1923, LondonHouse Chicago pays tribute to its past while also incorporating visually striking modern elements. The luxury lifestyle hotel brings 452 chic rooms and suites, as well as tech-forward amenities catering to leisure and business travelers alike.

    Inspired by the London Guarantee & Accident Building, the nearly 100-year old structure in which the hotel is located, LondonHouse Chicago uses its design to memorialise the era in which the 23-floor tower was originally built. Oxford also worked closely with architecture firm Goettsch Partners to develop a new 22-story modernist glass tower designed to synchronise seamlessly with the 360 North Michigan Avenues building’s timeless Art Deco architecture. Simeone Deary Design Group, the hotel’s interior design firm, also incorporated its jazz themes subtly with stylish interior architectural materials blending classic and modern designs. Some materials and furniture were secured by the Getty’s Group procurement division.

    LondonHouse, Chicago - Curio by Hilton“We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to work closely with Oxford’s development team to concept and design the interiors for LondonHouse Chicago,” said Lisa Simeone, owner of Simeone Deary Design Group. “The Landmark nature of this gorgeous and iconic building, its 1920s original inception and its location at the historic site of Fort Dearborn provided a wealth of inspiration for our narrative and design. From flappers’ beaded dresses to industrial automobile interiors to generals’ uniforms and beyond, our modern-take on these design elements allowed us to be inspired by the past but ground ourselves in the present.”

    London House’s elegant design aesthetic is further elevated through a custom art collection and unique prints curated by Indiewalls to visualise the property’s glamour while telling a story of opulence, intrigue, and history.

    The guest rooms and suites will also be equipped with Bluetooth-friendly Tivoli clock radios, mini refrigerators, luxury linen bedding and towels and signature Frette LondonHouse robes. Other amenities for today’s savvy traveler include convenient task desks and marble-clad bathrooms with high-end Malin + Goetz products.

    Chicago Hotel

    New affordable boutique hotel concept launches in Chicago

    1000 672 Daniel Fountain

    Hotel Chicago presents the West Loop/Illinois Medical District with a new lodging option destined to shake up Chicago’s boutique hotel market. Now open, the 117-room independent marks the entry into the hotel business by financier Joe Perillo, owner of Perillo Auto Group – a name synonymous with quality in Chicago for four decades.

    Joining Mr. Perillo to manage and operate the property is Helmut Horn, President of Portfolio Hotels & Resorts and a pioneer in the boutique hotel industry. Located at 1622 W. Jackson, the renovated historic building is conveniently situated in between the Illinois Medical District and red hot Randolph Street dining corridor.

    Void of heavy competition in the vicinity, Hotel Chicago provides a needed overnight option for hospital visitors, students, or savvy travellers looking for a “launch pad” to enjoy a night on the town.

    “When we began this project over three years ago, our intention was to create a cross-generational home away from home for families with loved ones nearby at the hospital,” said Mr. Perillo, who’s luxury dealerships include lines like Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Rolls Royce, Maserati and BMW. “Since then, the growth of the West Loop has caused us to slightly adjust our strategy. We ended up fashioning a European boutique hotel, with all the amenities of an extended stay mini apartment, in order to appeal to savvy travellers.”

    A unique and simplistic design mixed with comfort, convenience and value are the pillars in which Hotel Chicago stands upon. The property features a multitude of rooms to fit every guest, whether they’re here for a week in the doctor’s office or some fun in the city.

    Room types include a single full, a bunk double twin, and a king deluxe, with amenities like: luxurious pillow top memory foam mattress, personal Keurig, refrigerator, microwave, LCD TV with cable, ample closet space and cabinetry, sizable work area, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour fitness center, complimentary coffee, in-room safe, on-site washing machines, and a private parking lot with a local garage.

    Kimpton's Burnham, Chicago

    Kimpton’s Hotel Burnham, Chicago (Patrick Goff)

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    We tend to think of the USA as a new country filled with new buildings. However the preservation of old buildings is as much an issue on their side of the Pond as it is on the European side. Chicago recently scandalised many in the American architectural profession by pulling down a series of Gropius buildings in Chicago, a city he settled in when finally forced to flee from Nazi tyranny in Dessau.

    Despite the reputation of the Bauhaus, this was not the leading movement for which Chicago was known then or now. Whilst the name of Frank Lloyd Wright resonates, some of the names of architectural heroes in the city will be a little less familiar to Europeans. Despite the furore over the Gropius buildings the City of Chicago has shown remarkable determination to conserve its historic buildings and this determination led to Kimpton taking on the reputedly first steel framed glass walled skyscraper built for conversion into a boutique hotel.

    Kimpton's Burnham, Chicago
    The Reliance Building, to give it its formal appellation, was started in 1890 by the architectural practice Burnham and Root. Daniel Burnham played a large part in the replanning of Chicago, a city that became famous for innovative architecture after the disastrous fire of 1871 that destroyed four square miles of the city. The fire (reputedly started when Mrs O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern) burned through a city largely made of wood, only stopping when it reached the shores of the Lake Michigan. The basement and ground floor of the Reliance Building were constructed in 1890 while the upper three stories of the building previously on the site remained suspended above on jackscrews. The addition of the remaining floors in 1894–1895 completed the building.

    The building was significant because of the area of glass in the walls, made possible by the use of a steel cage construction. The original owner made lifts (elevators), given pride of place in the entrance, and it was also the first office building to boast a telephone in every office. Its glass and terracotta exterior and lightness because of the steel frame set the tone for the beginning of the skyscraper revolution. Bought and preserved by the city in 1993 the building was developed as a hotel in 1999 at a cost of $27.5 million, with Kimpton as its operator.

    As a conservation project it is marked both by the work done by the city to preserve the structure and external features but also the work undertaken to replicate and restore the original interiors. Much had been destroyed but authentic elements remained on the upper floors. Terrazzo floors and marble walls and ceilings were cleaned and honed. Plaster, mahogany and glass were all restored whist the cast iron work of the lift shafts was replicated and restored to modern standards.

    Kimpton's Burnham, Chicago
    Externally the delicacy and grace of its exterior is equally as delightful today as it was stunning on its original completion. It had much the same impact on Chicagoans as the construction of Arne Jacobsen’s Royal, had on the citizens of Copenhagen in the 1950’s, when it was Scandinavia’s first skyscraper. The Burnham’s signature ‘Chicago’ windows fill the interior with natural light and give spectacular views down State and Washington streets. Not far from the contemporary verson, theWit and inside the Loop, the hotel is very popular and brings the Kimpton style to the city.

    The hotel has a small footprint which limits the size of its popular restaurant and guests have to book for their tables to be available, especially on Sunday when it fills with local residents. With its free drinks hour for guests the public areas are busy, although clever design has fitted in a bar, an effective reception area and guest lounge as well as the restaurant. The space never feels cramped, helped by the huge picture windows to the street.

    Stylish use of colour and good accent lighting lighten the spaces which feel almost Parisian in their bustle. Where theWit up the street also has a very successful bar restaurant combination, its feel is very American whilst the Kimpton succeeds in feeling closer to Continental European café culture, more cosmopolitan with its mix of dark wood, white table cloths and yellow lighting. Many floors have the original door and corridor features of the original office fit-out, carefully re-used, but space has been found for a small gym and a meeting room.

    Kimpton's Burnham, Chicago
    Rooms are stylish and comfortable as one would expect from Kimpton (see also Monaco). With 122 rooms including 19 suites this is not a small hotel by European standards, although the days when hoteliers would pretend they had 99 rooms rather than over a hundred so guest felt more at home, are long gone.

    Bedrooms follow the normal layout, with the bathroom providing an acoustic barrier to the corridor areas. Carpet has replaced terrazzo on the floor although patterns are in keeping with the period of the property. Bedrooms all benefit from the large windows, perfect for watching Boston street life, or the views through to Lake Michigan and the Gehry auditorium defacing the park. Rooms blackout effectively and are provided with sheers for privacy.

    As a European visitor I was somewhat taken aback by the unselfconscious way in which apartment dwellers in the city undressed oblivious (?) to the fact that they were in full view of neighbouring blocks. There is an intimacy in this city which is a little surprising! Either that or Chicagoans are closet exhibitionists set on making voyeurs out of maybe not so innocent tourists…

    IMG_6704
    With the restoration concentrated on floor 7-14, where authentic part remained such as intact plaster ceilings, plate glass, interior store fronts, varnished mahogany doors and trim, one would expect considerable variation over the building. In fact the whole is in harmony and this historically important building has been treated with respect both by its designers, the builders and the operator alike.

    Despite their mistake with the Gropius buildings full credit must go to the policies of the City of Chicago. Without their foresight in purchasing the building and ensuring that the major external features were restored and repaired prior to its purchase for commercial use an important corner of Chicago would have been that much poorer.

    Kimpton's Burnham, Chicago
    We think of ourselves in Europe as being sensitive to the preservation of the past. Chicago remains the inspiration it was to Vladimir Mayakovsky, Tatlin and other artists and poets of the Russian revolution who may well have had in mind the Reliance Building when they wrote of Chicago as a ‘shining city’. This is indeed a shining example of conservation as well as being a resounding advert for Kimpton as operator.

    In this exciting cityscape it stands proud as forebear of all glass walled skyscrapers. It also stands as a quality building with a long life ahead of it.

    Words and Images are © Patrick Goff

    TheWit, Chicago (Patrick Goff)

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    Not a Trump Tower. A small building by Chicago’s standards, only 27 storeys high. Small but almost perfectly formed. Perhaps the ‘lightning streak’ of yellow down the outside is not the most successful feature I have seen on a building and the signage is definitely one sided. Location next to the El might seem odd, but as with the Marriott in London’s Docklands that nestles against the DLR, the train is not evident inside and its proximity is like a transfusion line from Chicago’s main blood stream. The life it promises is made good inside the hotel which is one of the most beautifully designed modern hotels I have seen in the US. I enjoyed Hotel 1000 in Seattle, and the Kimpton’s Alexis across the road but this one is better – its advantage being that it was purpose built. Here the building planning works a dream.

    The location may not be on the so-called ‘Magnificent Mile’ which seems to me to only be magnificent if you are a shopping addict or aficionado of modern architecture. Here are the University campuses, the broadcast studio, the art school, the City Cultural Centre and library. It is a district once falling into dereliction, dominated by Macy’s and whose regeneration kicked off when the city fathers had the foresight to save the Burnham building.

    A twin room at TheWit in Chicago

    A twin room at TheWit in Chicago

    A block away this is now the eponymous Kimpton (and shortly to be subject of one of our Reviews). With a youthful and media audience on its doorstep, theWit has been planned and designed in a way that draws this audience whilst having the design maturity to appeal to the older moneyed market that will provide the true spend and profitability longer term.

    A clever balancing act has been struck between being fashionable and having a timeless quality to the design, a trick usually missed by so-called fashion hotels in my experience. This has been helped considerably by the good interior layout planning where lessons from other hotels have been learned. The bar and restaurant have a street frontage, named State Lake after a famous local café that used to be on the site, giving an historical validity to an eatery here. The speciality restaurant stair climbs from inside the street windows to the bar, pre dinner drinks being possible in a high visibility, high profile area. This is an area UK pub designers used to refer to (tongue in cheek) as a ‘Friday Night millionaire corner’ where someone could splash money around on a Friday night in high visibility as if they had more than they actually did. This is a parable for the cash-strapped years after bankers follies perhaps?

    The restaurant sits on the floor above, approached either from the staircase in the bistro or from the mezzanine floor above reception. In reception a staircase leads to the Mezzanine from beside the concierge desk, allowing security to be maintained both through supervision and also because the integrity of the lift’s room card recognition system is not broken. External guests going to the nightclub bar operation on the top floor can only use the lift from bottom to top – without the key card intermediate stops at bedroom floors are not possible.

    he library-like mezzanine space also provides for the informal business meetings that are such a normal part of lobby life and a queuing area for those wishing to gain access to the rooftop or waiting for seats in the Restaurant, such is the immediate popularity of this stylish hotel. One wall of the space is dominated by a mural of a phoenix, echoing the themes of the light fittings, symbolic of the rebirth of this area of Chicago. With a library feel, the height of the space is still large enough to create a grand sensation, a feel that carries through to the access and conference areas and to the spa.

    Bar, restaurant area at TheWit Chicago

    Bar, restaurant area at TheWit Chicago

    The clever design of the restaurant plays with the space there. A chef’s table, intimate booths and a couple of classical private dining spaces create a busy and buzzing feel, yet allow privacy as well. At the top of the stairs from the bar side is a glazed private dining area and the foot of the same staircase has the lounge feeling pre-dinner drinks area. None of the spaces are overlarge and every part is used, creating a busy feel yet not feeling crammed. The bar itself does that difficult trick so often done well in America of creating a space that works well as a bar without creating an intimidating feel to the restaurant. Therefore, the restaurant remains a very comfortable and intimate area.

    “library like Mezzanine space also provides for the informal business meetings that are such a normal part of lobby life”

    The main restaurant offers flexible dining spaces yet it too manages to create intimate dining spaces. The show kitchen adjacent to the chef’s table enhances the intimacy of the space. Maitre’d desk faces the door from the mezzanine. With the addition of the barbeque and ‘grazing’ bar on the rooftop there is a multiplicity of eating areas done with style and offering a variety of different approaches to food – nor, unlike most US establishments, are portions intimidating. This is an hotel that has learned many of the lessons of the last 15 years in its execution, not just from interior design but other areas of the hospitality operation too.

    The design surprises continue through into the bedroom areas. Each lift lobby has a small ‘library’ continuing the theme from the Mezzanine, with busts of famous thinkers, books and so forth arranged around a small bookshelf and display case.

    However that is not the surprise, rather it is the sound of birdsong that fills the corridors -totally unexpected in urban Chicago. Not enough just to have birdsong either, for as dusk draws in so the sound changes to the sound of crickets and the hoot of owls. Indeed I noticed the far off ringing of church bells too, delightfully bucolic.

    Standard bedrooms offer the choice of either a tub or a walk-in shower room type and all have floods of daylight from enormous picture windows filled with the skyline of Chicago. Colours are generally muted with accents being provided by touches of sharp secondary colours – turquoise or orange and lightened with strong patterns in wallpaper and carpets. Chromatically well balanced the result is visually as well as physically comfortable. The desks are generously sized enabling an easy working situation to be set up, enhanced by the free Wi-Fi.

    TheWit, Chicago

    Sockets are well placed and generous lighting ensures that there is never a gloomy corner to struggle with.

    Desks are generously sized, enabling an easy working situation to be set up, enhanced by the free Wi-Fi.

    Bathrooms are well designed with good contrasts in the materials used and excellent lighting levels. Unfortunately the wash hand basins are stupidly shallow and wide, making a wet shave laborious and a good wash difficult without using the shower.

    In the suites large baths and walk-in showers complement the large vanity units. Suites also boast kitchens and dining areas, complete with microwaves, hobs and fridges, as well as wardrobes for outdoor gear separate from the wardrobe for indoor clothes. Useful coat hooks are provided, a thoughtful touch in many countries often missed in UK hotels, but which allows damp outdoor garments to be hung away from shirts dresses and so on.

    Whilst theWit has echoes from many hotels nothing it does is incredibly innovative. But it is encouraging to me as a designer to see that the owner and designers have pulled together all the lessons of the last ten years advances in hotel design. Firstly in planning and layout, secondly in terms of food/hospitality operation and finally in terms of spa operation and business rooms.

    Restaurant on the front to give a profile, a ‘Friday Night millionaires corner’ for the poseur to see and more importantly be seen, a screening room for the local arts and media market, plenty of facilities for local businessmen, good location, good staff and good bedrooms. On top of this nice operational and design touches such as birdsong in the corridors to give an individual personality to the hotel enabling guests to feel a loyalty and identify with the hotel.

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    Too often hotel chains have innovative layouts and food operations such as Marriott’s Courtyard Paris, thought through staffing and economics, sourced and defined design solutions and then not had the mangement skills to carry through the work. Design management is rarely recognised nor reinforced as a positive management imperative.

    Doubletree has produced a fine hotel, well planned, well designed and already popular. If they can manage the design and planning elements in the next hotel then maybe they will be able to create a chain of very successful properties. Clear brief, good planning and design, and quality throughout will always create winners.

    TheWit is a winner.

    Architecture: Jackie Koo
    Interior Design: Cheryl Rowley
    Restaurant Design: The Johnson Studios

    All words & pictures copyright Patrick Goff