Inside a room at Aloft Chicago City Center
Photo: Nina Kokotas Hahn

The standard rooms at Aloft Chicago City Center are not big at 329 square feet, but larger corner units, such as this one, offer views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Last Thursday, three new hotels and one restaurant opened their doors on one shared block at 515 North Clark Street. Dubbed the “triplex,” the unusual multi-hotel development consists of:

A new restaurant opened, too: Located at street level, adjacent to the Aloft lobby, Beatrix is the latest from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and a welcome addition to River North’s limited breakfast scene (the restaurant also serves lunch and dinner). The triplex is yet another addition to Chicago’s already booming hotel industry, bringing the year’s tally of new and renovated properties up to eight—with at least three more major completions expected by the end of 2013. That boom may be part of the city’s larger strategic goal to attract 50 million visitors by 2020, an increase of 11 million over 2010.

The triplex concept is brainchild of three key players—Friedman Properties (a major player in the development of River North), White Lodging (whose portfolio includes Preferred Hotels, Hilton, and Hyatt brands), and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. Each hotel targets a distinct traveler: Aloft is aimed at hipsters and urban explorers, Hyatt Place at the road warrior, and Fairfield Inn at people on a budget. The idea was to leverage common spaces, as the three hotels share 3,500 square feet of meeting rooms and offer free WiFi throughout. And, the close proximity of the hotels is meant to encourage hopping from property to property. Not enjoying your lobby? Give the one next door a try.

Locals should check out Aloft, the largest and most stylish of the three hotels: Its loft-like lobby flows from an illuminated circular main desk to a Midcentury-modern lounge space with pool tables and spacecraft-inspired chairs. The hotel plans to have DJs and emerging artists perform live in the space.


A First-Class Lounge Awaits Your Pet at O’Hare

Does your pup panic at the sound of a nearby jet engine? Perhaps you should look into the new luxury kennel for traveling pets offered by United at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Opened last month in the airport’s new cargo facility, the kennel offers 28 temperature-controlled enclosures, staffers on hand to exercise your pet as directed, and a comfy chauffeured van ride to the plane. Read more at Gadling.

New Brewhouse Inn Is Yet Another Fun Thing in Milwaukee

Summerfest, Milwaukee’s annual music fest, kicks off this week, running from June 26 to 30 and also July 2 to 7 (catch Pitbull, Tom Petty, and more). Cubs fans may realize that the team is playing the Brewers this week at Miller Park (June 25, 26, and 27). If you’re tempted, consider Brewhouse Inn & Suites, a new 90-room boutique hotel that opened in late April in the old Pabst Brewery brewing house. Last we checked, rooms are still available for this week (from $189), complete with old copper kettles, a beer garden, and a pub. See a photo gallery and read more at the Journal Sentinel.

Five Apps That Will Help You Travel Better or More Safely

Rex Crum of the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch rounds up five mobile apps that could come in handy when you’re in a foreign country or another city. One example: the American Red Cross’s Tornado Warning App, which sets off an audible siren even if your phone is turned off. Watch the two-minute Wall Street Journal video here.

Hertz’s New DreamCar Program Begs A Ferrari Splurge

In a nascent trend among rental car companies, Hertz unveiled its DreamCar program. You can now rent luxury vehicles such as a Porsche 911 ($350 per day), an Aston Martin Vantage ($1,000), and a Ferrari F430 Spider ($1,500). The program is currently available in Florida, but Chicago is among the next wave of cities to see the rollout. Travel+Leisure has more.