Photo: Courtesy of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Some 35,000-plus runners, 12,000-plus volunteers, and 1.7 million on-course spectators are expected to descend on the city during this year’s Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 13. That’s a lot of people and traffic to muddle through, especially in the post-race hours when all you’ll want to do is sit down. Why not make a weekend of it and grab a hotel room downtown? Here are six that still have available rooms on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (most require a two-night minimum stay) and have created fun perks for marathoners—in order from near the start line to farthest from it:
1. Swissôtel Chicago
323 E. Upper Wacker Dr., 312-268-8010; from $299
Distance to start line: 0.6 miles
At the confluence of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, the Harry Weese–designed Swissôtel comes with sweeping views, at a good rate, and no minimum required stay on race-day weekend. Runners will the easy walk to the starting line, just over half a mile away.
2. W Chicago City Center
172 W. Adams St., 312-332-1200; from $257
Distance to start line: 0.7 miles
Located at LaSalle and Adams, the clubby-mod W offers one of the lowest rates of the weekend and lots of street-level convenience. Runners have less than a mile to walk to the start. Spectators can pick up the course just a block away in either direction down Adams. At one end, runners will near mile 2; at the other, they’ll be approaching the rowdy mile-3 water stop.
3. InterContinental Chicago
505 N. Michigan Ave., 312-944-4100; from $399
Distance to start line: 0.9 miles
No minimum stay is required at the recently renovated InterContinental, which also promises a pre-marathon spaghetti dinner at Michael Jordan's Steak House. After the race, bring in your bib for a complimentary pour of Metropolitan Krankshaft. Spectators need only walk one block north to Grand Avenue to see racers as they cruise toward mile 1.
4. Hotel Palomar Chicago
505 N. State St., 312-755-9703; from $367
Distance to start line: 1 mile
Cool and intimate, Kimpton’s Palomar is currently offering a marathon special: 20 percent off room rates (from $293; use the code MTHON). The course also passes right in front of the River North hotel, which gives guests front row seats to the race as runners, still feeling fresh, approach mile 2.
5. The James
55 E. Ontario St., 312-337-1000; from $329
Distance to start line: 1.1 miles
This River North boutique hotel five blocks from LaSalle and Ontario, where runners approach the four mile and 12 mile marks. The hotel will host a free grab-and-go breakfast bag (baked goods, juice, coffee) from 6 to 6:30 a.m. For your post-race pig out, all you’ll have to do is amble downstairs to the new Burke’s Bacon Bar.
6. Peninsula Chicago
108 E. Superior St., 312-337-2888; from $495
Distance to start line: 1.2 miles
If you’ve got money to burn, perks abound at the top dog among Chicago luxury hotels. First, there’s no minimum stay required; a special pasta menu will be offered at The Lobby and through room service the night before; drinks, fruit, and energy bars will be available the morning of the race; and ice packs will be at the ready afterwards. Guests can also take advantage of free classes created just for the occasion: marathon meditation on Saturday and post marathon foam rolling on Sunday.
For more travel information, including distances from other major hotels as well as a reservation portal for more hotels holding rooms for the race, go to the Chicago Marathon website.
Chicago’s Hotel Boom is About More Than McPier
Convention tourism is not the driving force behind the current explosion of new hotels going up in Chicago. One example: the 184-room Hotel Lincoln, a new hotel in Lincoln Park that clearly targets the leisure traveler. “We aim for a younger demographic that likes to go out to restaurants and bars,” says its developer Ben Weprin, president of Chicago-based A. J. Capital Partners. “We try to create a town square atmosphere in our properties.” Weprin also has three new Chicago projects in the works: Thompson Chicago in the Gold Coast opens this week on October 1; Soho House Chicago is expected in August 2014; and the Chicago Athletic Association hopes to open in late 2014. Read the New York Times for more.
Mega Ships Gone Wild
With everything from 500-seat planetariums and retractable marinas to ice bars, zip lines, and animated portholes, the world’s most daring cruise ships keep pushing the limits at sea. Is it all too much or never enough? Flip through USA Today’s slideshow “10 Most Gee-Whiz Features on a Cruise Ship,” and you be the judge.
United Airlines Is Giving Away Tickets and Miles!
Now through October 26, United Airlines is stoking its new “Flyer Friendly” campaign with a month’s worth of daily giveaways via social media. This being an airline company, the loot includes Economy Plus seats, MileagePlus award miles, and domestic roundtrip tickets. To enter the daily drawing, follow @United on Twitter and watch for daily announcements and instructions there and on Facebook and Instagram.