Soho House

Soho House continues its British invasion of urban America. Chicago edition introduces “member haute” to a city that would seem wary of such things. But this outpost rocks like its city – with not a whiff of haute to be found. To wit, Chicken Shop and PIZZAEAST restos do downmarket hip in groovalicious fashion – whilst stunningly designed Allis lobby bar invites all comers and schmoozers. Hotel rooms are all retro industrial cool. An SH evolution.

Public Hotel

Debut of Ian Schrager’s “downmarket luxe” hotel brand. Nestled in posh Gold Coast, overrides Ace’s hipster cliches, instead does affordable chic without the wifi lobby rates. Rooms are comfy, simply stylish. Pump Room resto is groovy reboot of Chi-town legend, with Jean-Georges now at the helm – has generated new scene unto itself. Ian does it again.

Chicago Athletic Association Reemerges as Luxury Hotel

Restored ballroom

Travelers heading to the windy city (and local Chicagoans looking for a a place to throw a knockout event) will have a new place to stay starting May 27, when the storied Chicago Athletic Association reopens its doors as a 241-room luxury hotel.

Travelers heading to the windy city (and Chicagoans looking for a a place to throw a knockout event) will have a new place to play starting May 27 when the storied Chicago Athletic Association reopens its doors as a 241-room luxury hotel. The restoration, which involved a collaboration among design firm Roman and WilliamsHartshorne Plunkard Architecture, Geolo Capital, and Agman partners, took two years to complete.

The historic building and its gorgeous architectural details were brought to life in 1890 as a place for the storied families of Chicago — think names like Wrigley and Spalding — to socialize and enjoy sport. Roman and Williams preserved the details, which included bas-relief woodcarving fireplaces, 19th-century stained glass windows, and marble staircases, as part of their restorative process.

Beyond the guest rooms and suites, the luxury hotel will boast 17,000 square feet of event space, a rooftop bar, retail space in Madison Hall, and multiple restaurants, including a Shake Shack.

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Chicago Athletic Association

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A room at the restored hotel

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A suite at the restored hotel

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Chicago Athletic Association exterior

Images courtesy of Commune Hotels and Resorts

Shake Shack

Not that Chicago needed better burgers. But inevitable arrival of Danny Meyer’s unstoppable force immediately caused lines that stretched for blocks. Of course, the burgers are amazing, and you’ll have to wait and wait and wait.

East Room

Apparently silly “speakeasy” concept refuses to die. Tucked away off Logan Square, lack of signage seems not all that clever to anyone that hasn’t lived in Siberia the last eight years. Still, rocker vibe welcome amidst encroachment of designy bars in area. Leans hard on the hard stuff, strong whiskey and gin selection. Separate rooms for DJ and live music, distinctly of the indie variety, naturally.

Tippling Hall

A Mercadito joint. Nouveau beer hall, oddly in partnership with cocktail maestros The Tippling Bros. Unfussy furnishings, but vaguely industrial-meets-Southern-roadhouse feel. Usual comfort food suspects (chicken pot pie, quinoa salad) with a few twists like duck confit empanadas. But you’re here to drink, And there’s even a Spinal Tap tribute cocktail called Derek Smalls – though we’re not sure The Tap ever drank anything with cucumber and mint in it. Go with the Frozen Sloshees for maximum downscale effect.

Tunnel

Hidden club above John Barleycorn, inspired by subterranean London…of all things. Not as radical as it sounds – rather, essentially another over-designed club, with futuristic light installations, lots of headache inducing blues and reds, bottle service, as well as up-and-comer DJ talent. Sexy, in just the sort of way you’d imagine.

Ramen-San

Slotted into Paris Club, cool noodle spot with beer fixation. Buzzy atmosphere, great for knocking back a few Singapore Slings, Sake Bombs or Asahi cold drafts. Pork belly mantou buns, spicy chicken wings, and creatively conceived ramen (try the smoked brisket & burnt garlic) make dinner a bit of a party every time.

Spiaggia

Persistent celeb-magnet, favored by a certain Mr. & Mrs. Obama. Tony Montuano’s Spiaggia considered by many the Italian pinnacle in Chicago, with prices to match. See for yourself – start with Zuppa di Castagne (chestnut, foie gras and farro) follow with soft shell shrimp and salt cod risotto or 45-day dry-aged bistecca. Glamorous setting lives up to food. Exorbitant wine pairing menu for those who need never ask the price.