March Madness has inspired us. No, this is not a ranking by luxury or value, but by vibe: Do you feel cool being there? And not just our impressions, but the buzz wafting through Chicago's CRE community that we (unscientifically) surveyed. Have fun with the list—and at the hotels. These days the hippest want the locals as much as they want the tourists. Here's the first installment; our stirring conclusion appears tomorrow.
9) The Monaco, 225 N. Wabash Ave.
Two words: meditation station
. Even if we're not sure how this room feature is much different from picking up your hotel room chair
and turning it to face the striking view out your window of the Chicago River
, we just love the embracing spirit
it reflects—which you'll also find in its hosted wine hour, South Water Kitchen, and upbeat Art Deco
10) Hotel Felix, 111 W. Huron St.
Here's a hotel so playful
it not only re-did the 1920s Hotel Wacker in a whimsical way—represented by that red humanoid
valet helper—but actually named itself with the Latin word for "happy."
11) Raffaello, 201 E. Delaware Pl.
This longtime Gold Coast contender, housed in 1920s Gothic, effortlessly invokes old world
sensibilities to achieve its hipness and recently has even introduced a rooftop speakeasy
that only adds to its aura of vintage chic.
12) W Chicago — Lakeshore, 644 N. Lake Shore Dr.
All the usual accoutrements of this pioneering brand
that showed corporate could be cool, with an even sicker bonus
(as they might say) of Lake Michigan views
, including from the name-says-it-all Whiskey Sky Bar
on the 33rd
13) Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus Dr.
We debated including this, because it's really a leader in the luxury
category, but how can you not feel hip just looking
14) Burnham, 1 W. Washington; and Allegro, 171 W. Randolph St.
We lumped these two Kimptons together for three key reasons
: 1) although the Burnham is just 122
rooms and Allegro (lobby below) is 482
, they both evoke the same warm and opulent mood that comes with buildings from 1895 and 1926; 2) we want to contain jealousy
by giving it three, not four, places on this list; and 3) we have to be restrained
in our counting
if we are to justify the catchy moniker "Sweet Sixteen."
15) Acme Hotel, 15 E. Ohio St.
We would write up an explanation, but perhaps it's just better to suggest you look up the Ace Hotel
in NY and other cities, which this unrelated brand seems to have used as, er... inspiration
16) Dana Hotel, 660 N. State St.
The older sister hotel
of the Acme may look a bit nondescript at the arrival level outside. But check out its titillating website
: The opening picture will remind anyone in their mature years of trailers for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
, yet also speaks to those under 35 by using mottos like "I am Dana" and "Come as You Are
17) (Consider this an extra candle to grow on.) Whichever Hotel Next Goes Up, Anywhere, Chicago.
There are others in various stages
of construction, design, or contemplation queued-up to trigger the Bisnow Buzzometer
when they arrive: Thompson's
re-do of Sutton Place (snapped still under renovation this month); the Godfrey
at LaSalle and Huron (complete with a 12k SF
rooftop lounge); the long-rumored Virgin
from Sir Richard; a Soho House
to put Chicago on the creative hipster map like sister properties have done for LA, NY, and London; a Yotel
discount hostelry which has made it big in Manhattan; Starwood's Aloft
; and perhaps even the ultra-luxury Langham
if hip is seen as so successful it becomes (perish the thought) mainstream