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First Look: Viceroy Hotel Puts Spotlight Back on Beautiful Room Design

Some new hotel offerings focus on public spaces—which Viceroy also does, well—but the new Gold Coast hotel invests in its rooms, and it shows.

Photos: DS Shin

When new hotels open in Chicago, most people ask two questions: How’s the rooftop (and sigh if there’s none) and what about the restaurant? The new Viceroy Chicago doesn’t disappoint in either category, with both a street-level restaurant and rooftop bar overseen by the Boka Restaurant Group. Did I mention the expansive rooftop pool deck just outside of the bar?

The newest addition to Chicago’s ever-evolving hotel scene, the Viceroy opened today in the Gold Coast at the site of the former Cedar Hotel. We got a look around and here reveal the first interior shots of the 180-room hotel.

My visit got me to thinking about the trend for hotels to deliver on more vibrant, coveted social spaces, which isn’t new and isn’t just relegated to Chicago, but happening everywhere. As locals, we’ve benefited left and right. From the 2012-opened Hotel Lincoln to the Chicago Athletic Association in 2015, and even last month’s Ace Hotel Chicago, amazing rooftops, restaurants, and bars have been par for the course. 

But here’s where the Viceroy Chicago stands apart from so much of what we’ve seen lately: its hotel rooms. I’m the first to light up for a killer restaurant and a great rooftop (hello, spring and summer). But as a travel writer, I also think a lot about the experience of sleeping and waking in hotels, and there’s nothing like a well-designed room to complete the experience of a stay. And where many new hotels focus much of their energy on public spaces, it’s the rooms that sometimes miss the love.   

At Viceroy Chicago, the first in the Midwest for a luxury brand with a reputation for great design, its guestrooms are a reminder of what a little more love can do. Designed by Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studio, rooms span eight categories that include three suites with private outdoor terraces. Regardless of size and lake views, there’s a plush, colorful, and even opulent energy to Viceroy’s rooms. Digital reproductions of original work by London artist Tim Modus serve as a headboard wall, each decked out in gold colors and midcentury architectural shapes. That same midcentury vibe flows into interesting furnishings, like triangular-shaped benches and chaise lounges, which create playfulness in asymmetrical rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and polished brass fixtures. Pillows on cozy lounge chairs are embroidered with thunderbird designs, a nod to the Potawatomi Indian tribes that once called the Great Lakes home—and an example of some masterful mixing of patterns and styles.

Bathrooms are large and smart with white tubs under colorful cubist art, and select suites have views of the lake from the shower. Even the hallways are fun, with every door a different color and a black-and-gold, Art Deco twist in the elevator waiting areas.

Lenahan’s design hand shows up throughout the rest of the hotel, which is said to take inspiration from the Flâneur, a wandering, free-spirited French literary figure. There’s an especially good show of this energy in the lobby, which the Viceroy has dubbed the library. Take in the detailed brash fixtures, the white-and-grey geometric marble floor, and the large fireplace opposite a 30-foot, turquoise-blue wall of Marcel Proust quotes.

Of course, those two things you asked about—the rooftop and the restaurant—are pretty great at the Viceroy, and we should expect the throngs of people they will bring. Devereaux, the 18th floor rooftop bar, spans an indoor and outdoor space with capacity for 116. The bar is dressed in polished brass, metallic leather stools, and midcentury lighting. Outside, the terrace is roomy with modern white and grey furnishing around a plunge pool. There’s an energy to the views here, which include Rush Street, the Viagra Triangle, Oak Street Beach, the skyline, and Lake Michigan.

The street-level Somerset is attached to the hotel and shares the same restored façade that once stood at the historic Cedar Hotel (right behind the old beer garden that was Melvin B’s). Helmed by chef Lee Wolen of Boka (who also runs the menu at Devereaux), the two-story restaurant designed by AvroKO (Momotaro, Duck Duck Goat) takes its cue from both 1960s high society and 1970s country club culture. That plays out in throwback booths and trim banquettes, a private yachting room in your typical country club green, and art-installation-like walls with darts and chess pieces.

Rooms at Viceroy Chicago start at $305. Somerset and Devereaux are expected to open this month as well. 

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