Chicago's stylish stay off Michigan Avenue
287 Rooms / 24 Suites
Not too long ago, the building Conrad Chicago inhabits was an uninspired office space for one of the city’s many advertising agencies. After a generous rehab and some major interior design work, the space opened as a gleaming new hotel in late 2016.
The vibe here is all about “smart luxury.” The Conrad has everything a modern traveler wants without wading into superfluous territory. High-tech amenities are convenient, not excessive. Concierge programs are thoughtful and timesaving, not gratuitous.
The look of the hotel echoes this ethos. While you’ll see lots of glam gold accents and rich fabrics in the rooms and the lobby, none of it seems over the top. The restaurants, too, can more than hold their own in this foodie city, but they are also far from stuffy.
It’s as if the hotel itself knows it is better off complementing its glittery location just off of Michigan Avenue than competing with it — and it’s all the better for it.
• The alfresco rooftop lounge serves excellent sushi and inventive cocktails alongside stellar city skyline views from the 21st floor of the Conrad.
• Design details pay homage to Chicago’s mid-century modern masters — art pieces throughout the luxury hotel are inspired by famed artists, and the color scheme of the glitzy 20th-floor lobby features deep reds, beech wood and bronze with gold accents.
• Right off Michigan Avenue’s most famous stretch of pavement, the Magnificent Mile, the hotel is surrounded by seemingly endless shops, restaurants, nightlife and cultural institutions. If you want to feel like you’re in the center of the buzzy city, it’s hard to beat this location.
• A virtual reality concierge in the lobby can help you decide where to go by giving you a high-tech preview of the city’s many attractions. For example, you might check out a bird’s-eye view of Chicago as if you were atop the iconic John Hancock building, 1,000 feet in the air.
• Also in the lobby is a gorgeous sculpture meant to look like leaves blowing in the wind, except the 1,300 “leaves” are made of fine bone china and look like they are floating in mid-air.
Things to Know
• Meeting spaces are an actual talking point, thanks to a double-story atrium lounge (with great views of the city) that leads to 10 multi-functioning conference rooms (that also sport great vistas).
• Amenities are thoughtful and useful here — the luxury hotel’s house car, a Fisker, will take you anywhere within a two-mile radius, while the large fitness studio features a video wall that shows inspiring workout locations (you can go for a run on the beach, for example).
• Conrad’s signature concierge experience, 1/3/5, is for guests looking to explore the city on a deeper level for one, three or five hours at a time. Offerings include eating at top restaurants, shopping hip neighborhoods or even taking in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
• There’s no spa onsite, but the Conrad will arrange for an appointment at sister property Waldorf Astoria Chicago’s Four-Star Waldorf Astoria Spa & Health Club Chicago and shuttle you there.
• The country’s biggest Starbucks is expected to open directly next door to the hotel in 2018 — expect to see some foot traffic and possible partnerships with the Conrad.
• Technology was at the forefront of room design, with large 65-inch flat-screen TVs (among the largest in the city), keyless room entry (use your smartphone), smart lighting and a texting platform so you can communicate directly with the staff.
• The 287 guest rooms are dressed in more rich reds, light wood furniture and lots of gold accents (the brushed gold fixtures in the minimalist bathrooms are especially chic). Windows span floor to ceiling, and the beds are extra large at 96 inches long.
• Corner Conrad Presidential Suites on the 16th and 17th floors may be a splurge, but the 1,557-square-foot spaces have spectacular views of the city skyline through panoramic windows.
• The Chicago hotel paired up with renowned chef Richard Sandoval to create its restaurant concepts, including Noyane, the Japanese-inspired rooftop lounge, and Baptiste & Bottle, a bourbon-centric American eatery.
• Noyane’s sushi and sashimi rival the restaurant’s excellent skyline views. So do the creative cocktails — go for the sparkling sake sangria or El Diablo, made with jalapeño tequila, lime, ginger beer and Giffard Cassis.
• Baptiste & Bottle is open for breakfast, weekend brunch and dinner and is helmed by executive chef James Lintelmann, who stresses seasonality. Expect American all-stars like free-range bison, Amish chicken and day boat scallops.
• An extensive list of whiskies is available at B&B (Scotch, Canadian, rye, Japanese, Irish). Go for a tasting flight of three pours to see which ones you like best.