At TravelSkills, we love new hotels. They smell better, work better, feel better, and are usually bigger, brighter and hipper than others. But new can also have its downside: Construction noise, service issues, and/or locations in sketchy or “upcoming” neighborhoods. Some are so new that TripAdvisor reviews are scant compared to more established hotels. In an ongoing feature, TravelSkills reports on the newest hotels in the world’s most important cities. When we say “newest” we have certain criteria around that: The hotels have to be brand new or deeply renovated within the last few years, 3+ stars and appropriate venues for business travel.
Chicago is the business Mecca of the Midwest and the third largest city in the U.S., so understandably it’s a huge destination for business travelers. Like many cities, its face is changing with a number of new hotels coming on the scene and more in the pipeline. Here are three of the newest on Chi-town’s hotel scene.
ICONIC STAY. A beautiful new jewel in the crown of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, what was formerly Hotel Sax has been reborn as Hotel Chicago Downtown (opened Feb 2014). Its history lends it iconic status—part of the famous Marina City complex, designed by Bertrand Goldberg and the very first mixed use development in the U.S. You’ll recognize Marina City’s crazy cylindrical condo towers from any skyline photo of the city since 1963. The location (333 N. Dearborn) is super desirable, whether business takes you up Michigan Avenue or into the Loop, and you’re a short walk to many of the city’s best restaurants and attractions. In fact, speaking of iconic, you can stroll next door to landmark music venue House of Blues. Of course, the Hotel Chicago is very much of today, with the usual biz features: a well outfitted business center and meeting space that spans the entire fourth floor and includes a paneled board room and central rotunda for breaks. While the 354 rooms (from $280), have a hip, bohemian vibe, you’ll find all the more standard conveniences you’d expect from a Marriott property, including an onsite fitness center and room service.
CONVENTIONAL COMFORT. The huge renovation of the Hyatt Regency Chicago McCormick Place is particularly noteworthy if you’re one of the 2.3 million people a year who attend an event at McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center. In fact, meetings and events there generate 21 percent of all business traffic to the city. The Hyatt Regency underwent a $110 million expansion and renovation, completed last summer. Enclosed skybridges connect it to McCormick Place—a huge selling point (especially when icy winds blow). So while the location isn’t the best if you want easy access to downtown, it’s unparalleled if you’re attending a convention. With a new guest tower included as part of the expansion, it’s now a mega-hotel with 1,258 rooms, the fourth largest Hyatt in the world. The hotel offers all the amenities business travelers care about, including a FedEx Office Business Center, a 24-hour gym and an indoor lap pool with outdoor sundeck. Rooms ($150-$200) are standard Hyatt Regency fare, but technology is updated with “Jack Packs” with additional outlets and HDMI, iPod/iPhone, VGA, USB, video/audio and RCA connections. For those with a conscience, the hotel is now LEED gold certified.
EAST MEETS MIES. Asian elegance meets Chicago’s architectural history at The Langham, which opened in September 2013. The hotel comprises the first 13 stories of a 52-story landmark building designed by world-renowned local architect Mies van der Rohe. His style is a perfect match for the restrained elegance of Langham. The hotel’s 316 rooms (from $550) are luxurious but in a quiet, sophisticated way. Like the Hotel Chicago, it’s very well located just north of the Chicago River (330 N. Wabash), making the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and the Loop easily walkable. There’s plenty of meeting and event space, with four board rooms. Then, let’s say you sign the deal you came for, use that as an excuse to visit the Chuan Spa, which includes a fitness studio and pool. And check out some innovative ways to unwind there: a salt stone sauna, aromatherapy shower and warming recliners.
A couple of renovations are also worth mentioning: the W Chicago – Lakeshore (just completed a $38 million facelift) and the uber hip Thompson Chicago on the Gold Coast (formerly Sutton Place Hotel) Some exciting projects are still in the pipeline, too. Big buzz surrounds the first hotel in Richard Branson’s portfolio, the Virgin Hotel Chicago, scheduled to open in the fall. Coming in 2015 are a 400-room Loews Hotel on the north bank of the Chicago River and the Hyatt Chicago The Loop at Clark and Monroe. In late 2016 the 1200-room Marriott Marquis McCormick Place is slated to open, positioned as a convention headquarters (and offering those nifty skybridges to keep you out of the cold and heat).
What’s your favorite hotel in Chicago? Why? Share your review in the comments.
Would you rather get TravelSkills Weekly instead of Daily? No probs! click here to sign up for TravelSkills Weekly.
Check out these popular recent TravelSkills posts: