While everyone waits for the December 1 opening of Nico Osteria, Paul Kahan’s latest Italian-seafood driven eatery, we took a look around the Thompson Chicago (21 E. Bellevue Pl., 312-266-2100; from $287), the new 247-room hotel set to house the restaurant, from One Off Hospitality (Publican, Big Star, Violet Hour). Thompson, which opened in the Gold Coast earlier this month, also plans to reveal its six loft suites on Thursday, November 1.

Inside the industrial lux lobby, dressed in muted wide-planked woods, a chandelier of filament lighting, a shiny black-tiled fireplace, and shelves of curiosities, we nearly forgot about the restaurant. Where some hotels feel too palatial or polished, Thompson woos you in an instant with its warm, sophisticated vibe.

That mojo carries throughout the hotel and into the residential-style rooms designed by British designer Tara Bernerd (who also designed the Belgraves London). Step into a 320-square-foot King Superior, the hotel’s standard room, and it feels like you’ve stepped into the home of a stylish but unpretentious friend. Picture a plush aqua blue velvet banquette backed by a huge mirror, a white bed topped with tweed blankets and throws, a small potted plant under many-shaped lamps, curious wall art, and a backdrop of city lights through the windows. The bathrooms go for a bolder, more provocative effect with white subway-tiled walls and a dark blue ceiling that almost mimics a night sky.

We got a peek at the six new loft suites, too, which are similarly mod and luxurious, but far more playful than most any other suite in the city. This is the place for that fantastic hotel party you always wanted to have. All suites have capacity for a 20-guest cocktail reception, and three suites have roomy outdoor terraces with outta-sight city views. Bedrooms are in the upstairs loft space.

In December, when Nico Osteria does open, it may steal the hotel’s show. Next to the Thompson lobby, with its own door off the corner of Bellevue and Rush, the 6,000-square-foot Nico spans two floors, including the two-story wall of lush greenery that’s already planted and shimmering. And there is the open kitchen and dining space—the heart of the restaurant—where you’ll be able to watch Chef Erling Wu-Bower in action (under the direction of Kahan).

In the meantime, check out Thompson Chicago before the insanity begins. The hotel is currently offering a Sharp Shooters Package that involves a pair of 200-level seats to a sold-out Blackhawks game, plus private car service to and from the game.

The Spookiest Travel Hot Spots in America

A terrifying Texas corn maze at night, flashlight tour of Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery, or a festive SoCal haunted house dubbed Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare—pick your Halloween poison and get going with Daily Candy’s 30-plus list of the best haunted places in the US.

Five Tips for Better Vacation Photos

“For about 20 minutes just after sunset, the fading daylight balances perfectly with the artificial light of the city and suddenly, colors pop,” says Condé Nast Traveler photographer Craig Easton, who recommends taking photos during this “magic hour,” in order to capture dramatic bursts of color. “It’s a trick photographers fall back on again and again,” said Easton. Get all five tips at Condé Nast Traveler.

Chicago’s Hotels Let the Art Stand Out

Chicago’s new Langham hotel, which occupies the ground through thirteenth floor of the last office building designed by Mies van der Rohe, features a lobby designed by the architect’s grandson, Dirk Lohan, and furniture either custom-designed by Mr. Lohan, or van der Rohe. At the JW Marriott here, Christie’s has also offered special preview exhibitions from upcoming auctions (along with food and beverage offerings inspired by the works). “The guest experience has to be distinctive,” says travel analyst Henry Harteveldt in the New York Times. “It’s possible that art can help a hotel stand out in an increasingly competitive market.” Read more at the New York Times.