by Santorini Dave • Updated: November 25, 2018
Chicago Hotels – Tips and Advice
- The best neighborhoods in Chicago for visitors are the Gold Coast (upscale shopping, fine dining, and nightlife), River North (arts and design neighborhood, heart of the Magnificent Mile), the Loop (financial and cultural center with stunning architecture), and Lake Shore East (aka New East Side, a quiet waterfront spot just east of the Loop).
- Best Luxury Hotel in Chicago: The Peninsula
- Best Boutique Hotel in Chicago: The Silversmith
- Best Spa Hotel in Chicago: The Langham
- Best Hip and Fun Hotel in Chicago: Chicago Athletic Association
- Best Historic Hotel in Chicago: The Palmer House
- Best Chicago Hotels for Families: Four Seasons Hotel • Hilton Chicago
- The best restaurants in Chicago are Quartino Ristorante (best Italian), Demera Restaurant (best Ethiopian), Green Mill Cocktail Lounge (historic jazz club and dive bar), The Purple Pig (best on the Magnificent Mile), Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria (best deep dish), and Mysore Woodlands (best Indian).
- Do not miss the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s river cruise. Not only is the generally considered the single best tour in America, it’s also a great way to get to know the city. Do this at the beginning of your trip to help plan your itinerary.
The 25 Best Luxury Hotels in Chicago
1. The Langham Chicago – River North
An elegant newly-awarded five star, five diamond property on State Street. The Langham is home to Chuan Spa, the only five star spa in Chicago, offering a full menu of treatments, plus a Himalayan salt sauna, lavender steam room, herbal warm room, eucalyptus steam shower, and an indoor pool. The Pavilion hosts the finest afternoon tea service in the city, with sweet and savory treats and live music. Located on the north side of the Chicago River, steps from shopping and dining, this is a superb choice for experience the best the city has to offer. • Hotel phone: 312.923.9988
2. The Peninsula Chicago – River North
Gorgeous, contemporary luxury, with the most intuitive and gracious service in the city. Built in this millennium, but designed in Art Deco style with vertical accents, high ceilings, and golden domes. Each room is completely controlled via tablet, from temperature to lighting, and all suites include a complimentary three-hour chauffeured tour of the city in a Mini Cooper. Their full-service spa takes up two full stories, plus they have a heated pool and whirlpool. They are also home to the best Chinese restaurant in the city. Located on the Magnificent Mile in the Near North area, close to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Water Tower. • Hotel phone: 312.337.2888
3. Chicago Athletic Association Hotel – The Loop
The most unique hotel in Chicago, originally built as a men’s sporting club in 1890 and completely renovated in 2015. This hotel offers luxury, sport-themed accommodations with cool details, like pommel horse benches and tennis racket nightstands in the rooms, all amid the original architectural beauty of mosaic tile floors, carved wood accents, and gold ceilings. Five excellent restaurants and bars onsite, with a game room and grand lobby library. Located in the Loop, near the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park, overlooking The Bean. • Hotel phone: 312.940.3552
4. Four Seasons Hotel Chicago – Gold Coast
Classic, luxury hotel at the start of the Magnificent Mile, with the highest luxury guest rooms in the city and unmatched city and lake views. An art-forward hotel, they have eleven museum-quality works here, which guests may tour through. This hotel has several suite options, many of which have kitchenettes. This is an excellent choice for families, offering tons of kid-friendly amenities; including a teen spa, kids’ club, and indoor pool. Connected to the 900 North Michigan Shops, walking distance to Oak Street Beach and the John Hancock building. • Hotel phone: 312.280.8800
5. The Palmer House – The Loop
A stately and historically significant luxury hotel in the heart of Chicago. The Palmer House is the city’s longest continually opened hotel, since 1871. Every U.S. president since Grant has either slept or dined here, Mark Twain spoke here, and the trial over General Custer’s death took place here. Interiors feature vaulted, hand-painted ceilings, gold detail, and marble columns. Indoor pool and full service spa on site. Well-situated in the Loop, near The Art Institute, Millennium Park, and the Chicago Symphony. • Hotel phone: 312.726.7500
6. Renaissance Blackstone Hotel – The Loop
Beaux-Arts luxury hotel that’s rich in history. This is home to the original “smoke-filled room” where a secret meeting selected Harding to run for president, as well as Al Capone’s barber shop. Breathtaking interiors have been lovingly restored to preserve its unique feel. Phenomenal Spanish tapas restaurant on site. Located in the Cultural Mile, south end of the Loop, The Blackstone is close to the Art Institute and Museum Campus. • Hotel phone: 312.447.0955
7. Waldorf Astoria Chicago – Gold Coast
Chic hotel with an urban luxury vibe, modeled after Parisian styles of the ‘20s. Their guest room options include suites with fireplaces and balconies. This hotel houses an award-winning spa, plus nail salon, hot tub, and a pool with family swim hours. Located in the luxe Gold Coast neighborhood, the Waldorf Astoria is situated in a little triangle between shopping on State Street and dining on Rush Street, walking distance to Oak Street Beach and the Mag Mile. • Hotel phone: 312.646.1300
8. Ritz-Carlton Chicago – Gold Coast
Lavish hotel just off the Magnificent Mile with amazing city, lake, and Navy Pier views. This hotel offers gorgeous rooms and a wide range of suite options, some with two floors, two bedrooms, or full kitchens. Amazing food and drink options here include a fine dining brasserie and a rooftop bar serving late night tapas and cocktails. Be sure to start the morning with a rooftop yoga session or a dip in the pool. Walking distance to Water Tower Place, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Driehaus Museum. • Hotel phone: 312.266.1000
9. Park Hyatt Chicago – Gold Coast
Contemporary and stylish luxury hotel in the Gold Coast with views of the Water Tower and lake. This hotel offers spacious rooms, all with Eames chairs and window seats. Dining is fantastic here, with NoMi Kitchen and Lounge offering modern American fare and seasonal cocktails, plus an extensive wine variety and cheese cave. Their art collection boasts an original Matisse and Chihuly glass art, while their lobby displays a wild collection of fossils and meteorites. A spa, pool, and sun terrace round out the experience. Walking distance to upscale shopping and great restaurants. • Hotel phone: 312.335.1234
10. InterContinental Chicago – Streeterville
Luxe hotel right on the Chicago River and boasting a restored Art Deco pool with stained glass and columns. The décor here is a fusion of cultures and times, Assyrian to Celtic, Medieval to modern, but the hospitality is true Midwestern warmth. There’s a great little wine tasting room here, pairing drinks with chocolates and cheeses. Just a short walk to the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise and The Bean. • Hotel phone: 312.944.4100
11. Omni Chicago Hotel – Streeterville
Sophisticated, all-suite, luxury hotel located on the Mag Mile. Lots of room options, including some with sleeper sofas, full kitchens, and extra half baths. Popular with foodies, The Omni’s signature 676 Restaurant & Bar cures their own charcuterie and makes their own drink infusions and mixes-in house. For a hands-on experience, check out one of their packages for a deep dish pizza-making or a wine and food pairing class. Other amenities include a pool, hot tub, spa, and sun deck. Near the Water Tower and the Museum of Contemporary Arts. • Hotel phone: 312.944.6664
12. Sofitel Chicago – Gold Coast
French-brand luxury hotel with international flare; over 20 languages are spoken here, even among the bartenders. The building itself is built on a slant, giving each room an unobstructed view of the city and Lake Michigan. Gorgeous modern interiors include their Parisian-inspired opera staircase, lit with subtle, glimmering lights at night. Upscale shopping and fine dining is right outside the door, while the Museum of Contemporary Art is only a short walk away. • Hotel phone: 312.324.4000
13. Loews Chicago Hotel – Streeterville
Brand new luxury hotel perfectly located just five minutes’ walk to the Mag Mile, Millennium Park, and Navy Pier. This hotel is ideal for family stays with several room and suite options, plus fun amenities, like “dive in movies” at their pool and a full lawn on an elevated terrace. With great Argentine restaurant and full service spa, this is also a great pick for a relaxing and indulgent stay. • Hotel phone: 312.840.6600
14. Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park – Lake Shore East
With its V-shape, the Fairmont Chicago offers stunning views of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, or Millennium Park from nearly every room. This hotel connects to the Pedway, Chicago’s underground walking system, so guests can get around town even in the worst weather without a coat. Enjoy the soothing onsite spa and cap the night off with a cocktail in their gorgeous brass-circled lobby lounge. Fantastic shops, restaurants, and the architectural boat tour are right at your doorstep. • Hotel phone: 312.565.8000
15. The Drake – Gold Coast
Quintessential luxury in an Art Deco building on Oak Street Beach. This hotel has long played host to the well-heeled, including Princess Di (they even named a suite for her). There are five restaurants onsite, but they are best known for their afternoon tea service, featuring a live harpist. For children they offer a Little Prince or Little Princess tea service. Other family friendly bonuses include suites with two bathrooms, an American Girl package, and their proximity to Lego Land in Water Tower Place. • Hotel phone: 312.787.2200
16. Swissotel Chicago – Lake Shore East
This sleek hotel is shaped like a three-sided prism to offer panoramic river, lake, and city views, while its central location makes this hotel a great home base for exploring Chicago. For families, they offer connecting or adjacent kids’ rooms, stocked with age-appropriate amenities for ages 0-17. For couples or solo travelers, they have a lively lobby bar. An indoor pool, whirlpool, spa, and sauna fill out the range of amenities, making this a perfect stay for mixed groups. Located on the Chicago Riverwalk, near the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise and The Bean. • Hotel phone: 312.565.0565
17. Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel – Gold Coast
Spectacular, Art Deco luxury hotel, formerly home to Al Capone’s secret casino, and later a Playboy hotel. Built at the height of the roaring ‘20s, this hotel features its restored, original light-up dance floor, plus grand, ornate gold and original plasterwork. Wonderful location, right next door to the John Hancock building and walking distance to most attractions, including the Bean, plus great restaurants on Rush Street. • Hotel phone: 312.751.8100
18. Kimpton Hotel Monaco – The Loop
Boutique-style, luxury hotel in a hundred-year-old former hat factory. Most rooms have city or lake views and window seats, which they make up as beds for children. This hotel is fantastic for families, with tons of unique amenities, including loaner goldfish, hula hoops, and kid-sized bathrobes. Superb bar and restaurant onsite, serving Midwest comfort food, brewing their own beer, and mixing inspired craft cocktails. Fantastic location in the Loop, near the river, shopping, and nightlife. • Hotel phone: 312.960.8500
19. Thompson Chicago – Gold Coast
Modern luxury hotel one block off the Magnificent Mile. This hotel features provocative artwork and eclectic décor. The Thompson is well known for their outstanding level of service at every interaction; in fact, the New York Times recently wrote an article on their doormen. The fab kitchen here serves great rustic, Italian food as well as a stellar weekend brunch. Located in the Gold Coast, walking distance to Oak Street Beach, as well as the finest shopping in the city. • Hotel phone: 312.266.2100
20. The James Chicago – River North
Warm, modern luxury hotel near the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier. This boutique space offers superb amenities, including a full-service spa, loaner bicycles, a milk and cookies turndown service for children, and in-room dining for dogs. Their signature restaurant, David Burke’s Primehouse, is the top steakhouse in the city, known for their dry aged meats. The James is in the River North neighborhood, close to restaurants and shopping and just a fifteen minute walk to The Bean. • Hotel phone: 312.337.1000
21. Kimpton Hotel Allegro – The Loop
Glamorous Art Deco hotel in the Theater District area of the Loop. Decadent retro interiors with original molding and lighting, plus vintage inspired décor. Suites are twice the size of rooms, and higher floors offer sweeping city views. Enjoy yoga gear in each room and a complimentary wine reception every evening. This hotel is surrounded by shopping and restaurants and is within walking distance to The Bean, Chicago Theater, and the river. • Hotel phone: 312.236.0123
22. JW Marriott Chicago – The Loop
Luxury hotel in a historic Daniel Burnham building with polished marble and rich gold details. Built in 1914 and recently restored, this Chicago landmark has an indoor pool, whirlpool, and sauna. Dine well at their gourmet Italian restaurant or in their New American-style lounge. Centrally located in the Loop, near Millennium Park and Navy Pier.• Hotel phone: 312.660.8200
23. Hard Rock Hotel Chicago – The Loop
Rock ‘n Roll-themed luxury hotel in a historic Art Deco building. The building itself, designed after a green champagne bottle with a golf foil top, perfectly suits the indulgent attitude the hotel represents. The interiors feature faux snakeskin and music memorabilia, like instruments, concert flyers, and band photos. This hotel also features two amazing restaurants, one featuring Jamaican cuisine and the other in a New American style. Ideal location, near the Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago Theater, and Millennium Park. • Hotel phone: 312.334.6767
24. Silversmith Hotel – The Loop
Independently-owned, boutique, luxury hotel. Located in Jewelers Row, the hotel matches their décor to their setting with vibrant jewel-tones and Swarovski crystal lamps and tables. Rather than suites, the hotel offers Premium Rooms with an extra seating area and pullout couch. Cozy, glitzy, and fun, this is a perfect getaway for couples. Near the Chicago Riverwalk and Millennium Park. • Hotel phone: 312.372.7696
25. The Ivy Hotel – Streeterville
Stylish, boutique, luxury hotel in the smallest skyscraper in the city. This cozy, little hotel is perfect for couples, with an intimate lounge area and a seasonal rooftop bar. The Ivy offers mostly suites, all with chic and contemporary décor. Stellar location in the Streeterville neighborhood, just steps away from the city’s top dining and shopping on the Magnificent Mile and close to Navy Pier. • Hotel phone: 312.335.5444
Staying in the Gold Coast
This is the most affluent neighborhood in Chicago, and has been since its birth in the 1880s, when several millionaires flocked here after the Great Chicago Fire. Stately mansions, luxury high rises, and designer boutiques line the streets, alongside Rolls Royce and Lamborghini dealers. This area is home to a few malls, including Water Tower Place and 900 North Michigan Shops. But Oak Street is the most loved hub for upscale shopping and features designer shops, like Hermes and Prada, plus high-end specialty boutiques. Rush Street is a haven for cutting edge restaurants, plus bars and clubs that run high-energy until the wee hours. Other area attractions include the historic Water Tower and its tiny art gallery and the John Hancock Tower with its 360º Observatory featuring the signature Tilt experience, where visitors are tilted over the edge on a glass platform.
Oak Street Beach makes up the eastern edge of the Gold Coast, and offers some of the bluest water you’ll see outside of the Mediterranean. This neighborhood is considered to be the start of the Magnificent Mile, with Michigan Avenue beginning on its southern edge. The Gold Coast is north of Streeterville and south of Lincoln Park in the Near North Side area of the city.
Best Hotels in Gold Coast
- Four Seasons Hotel Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.280.8800
- Waldorf Astoria Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.646.1300
- Ritz-Carlton, Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.266.1000
- Park Hyatt Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.335.1234
- Sofitel Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.324.4000
- The Drake • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.787.2200
- Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.751.8100
- Thompson Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.266.2100
Best Restaurants in the Gold Coast
- Velvet Taco Chicago • $ • Chill spot for margaritas and fun flavors, like chicken tikka tacos.
- Nico Osteria • $$$$ • Upscale, Italian seafood.
- Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria • $$-$$$ • Chicago’s best deep dish pizza.
- Sprinkles Cupcakes • $ • Rotating cupcake menu, plus cookies and ice cream – plus a 24/7 cupcake ATM
Staying in River North/Streeterville
Once an industrial area crisscrossed by train tracks, the River North area was known in the early 1900s as “Smokey Hollow,” because its factories pumped out enough smoke to block the sun. A real-estate remake in the ‘70s brought in tons of artists, leading to this area having the second highest concentration of art galleries in America, just behind Manhattan, a distinction which it still holds today. Just to its east, on the other side of Michigan Ave, is a sub section of River North, known as Streeterville, which houses some of the city’s tallest skyscrapers, as well as attractions like Navy Pier, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and landmark architectural touchstones, like the Wrigley Building. Together, the River North and Streeterville areas make up the shopping heart of Chicago surrounding the Magnificent Mile, with name brand, boutique, and vintage stores, plus trendy restaurants and bars.
River North and Streeterville are bounded on the east by Lake Michigan at Navy Pier, to the north by the Gold Coast, to the west and south by branches of the Chicago River. Michigan Avenue, aka the Mag Mile, divides the two areas from each other.
Best Hotels in River North and Streeterville
- The Peninsula Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.337.2888
- The Langham, Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.923.9988
- InterContinental Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.944.4100
- Omni Chicago Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.944.6664
- Loews Chicago Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.840.6600
- The James Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.337.1000
- The Ivy Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.335.5444
Best Restaurants in River North and Streeterville
- Quartino Ristorante • $$-$$$ • Chicago’s best Italian. This place is crackin’ all the time, so reservations are recommended for this spot “where the wine is cheaper than water.”
- The Purple Pig • $$-$$$ • House cured meats, lots of wine, lively bar. Best restaurant on the Mag Mile.
- Tanta Chicago • $$-$$$ • Upscale Peruvian fare and great cocktails.
- Beatrix • $$-$$$ • New American dining, featuring fresh juices and cocktails made with them.
- Bohemian House • $$-$$$ • Central European food with a great beer selection in a funky space.
Staying in the Loop
This is the central business district of Chicago, and one of the most important in the world. Named for the railways and cable cars that once encircled the area, the Loop is true downtown Chicago. This is a perfect spot for first time visitors to the city who want to be close to the action. This area is best known for its striking architecture, which includes the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the tallest in Chicago. Other landmark buildings here include the Carbide and Carmon Building and the Chicago Theatre. This area is also home to the city’s most beloved hangout space, Grant Park, which includes Millennium Park and The Bean, and is just north of the Art Institute of Chicago. At the south end of the Loop, you’ll find Museum Campus, home of the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium (the oldest planetarium in America), and the Shedd Aquarium.
The Loop is bordered to the north and west by the Chicago River, to the east by Lake Michigan, and to the south by the Prairie District and Chinatown.
Best Hotels in the Loop
- Chicago Athletic Association Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.940.3552
- The Palmer House • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.726.7500
- Renaissance Blackstone Hotel • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.447.0955
- Kimpton Hotel Monaco • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.960.8500
- Kimpton Hotel Allegro • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.236.0123
- JW Marriott Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.660.8200
- Hard Rock Hotel Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.334.6767
- The Silversmith • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.372.7696
Best Restaurants in the Loop
- Cafecito • $ • Cheap spot for Cuban sandwiches and great coffee.
- The Gage • $$-$$$ • Inspired New American pub fare.
- Acanto • $$-$$$ • Casual spot for Italian food with a wonderful outdoor space.
- Kramer’s Health Foods • $ • No frills vegetarian and vegan deli.
- Saucy Porka • $ • Affordable Asian/Latin fusion foods. Great for brunch.
Staying in Lake Shore East (New East Side)
This is a newer, “master planned” neighborhood located within the Loop at the north eastern corner. This area is only recently built up, so it lacks the storied history of other parts of the city. But its location right on the Chicago Riverwalk, near the boarding area for the Chicago Architectural Foundation River Cruises, and bordering Millennium Park makes it a great spot for visitors looking to be close to the action, while still being removed enough to have a restful sleep. Here you’ll find clean streets and gorgeous modern skyscrapers, most notably the Aqua, its wavy face mimicking the river flow. Be advised that this area can be tricky to navigate, as many of the streets are split-level near the river.
Lake Shore East is bordered by the Chicago River to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, parks on the south (Grant, Millennium, and Maggie Daley), and Michigan Avenue to the west.
Best Hotels in Lake Shore East
- Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.565.8000
- Swissotel Chicago • Reviews • Hotel phone: 312.565.0565
Best Restaurants in Lake Shore East