As predicted, Chicago saw the opening of some great new hotels this past year, with most of them doing something that hasn’t been done here before. Here are the four best new Chicago hotels of 2014.
1. Soho House Chicago
113-125 N. Green St., 312-521-8000; from $165
The West Loop got its first quality hotel and one of Chicago’s most unique boutique hotels when the 40-room Soho House Chicago opened in August in a former belting factory. The location is brilliant, right on Green Street and steps from Randolph Street and restaurants like Girl & the Goat and Nellcôte. Still, you could hole up inside the six-story hotel—a mix of original tiles, chandeliers, rugged woods, tall cement ceilings, and velvet furniture—with its three restaurants, Cowshed Spa, and members-only social club for creatives. A new street art series, House Graffiti on Green, lets local artists share their work on the outdoor cornerstones of the building. Check out JC Rivera this month and The Lie in January.
The Standout: The rooftop deck with skyline views, an 80-foot stainless steel swimming pool, and a glass-enclosed restaurant.
Secret Weapon: Hotels guests at Soho House get more than access to the private club’s fifth floor spaces (including the music room and huge drawing room); they can hammer it out at the real boxing ring in the 15,000-square-foot gymnasium.
2. The Godfrey Hotel Chicago
127 W. Huron St., 312-649-2000; from $99
Opened in early February, the 221-room Godfrey was at first about its steely, cubist exterior designed by Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train—and a dramatic 16-story eye catcher in the River North skyline. Inside, a white elliptical lobby leads to mod rooms with bold lines and, in addition to the bed, a sitting chair that converts to a sleeper. Since November, Godfrey has been partnering with Checkmate, a mobile and online app that lets guests check-in early, request a room preference, and skip check-in lines.
The Standout: On the fourth floor, the 15,000-square-foot, all-season rooftop (I|O Roofscape), with a glass retractable roof, indoor lounge, and dining room run by Riley Huddleston (Aviary).
Secret Weapon: A new ground-floor restaurant opens in late Spring 2015 with the help of New York–based LDV Hospitality (Scarpetta, American Cut).
3. The Guesthouse Hotel
4872 North Clark St., 773-564-9568; from $179
Opened in June, the 25-suite Guesthouse has remained the dark horse among 2014 Chicago hotel openings—a shocker, given the hotel’s pretty, residential-style suites ranging from one- to three-bedrooms, each with a balcony, patio furniture, and a grill. Blame the Andersonville location, which keeps it far enough beyond the city’s center to keep it off the typical tourist map. And thank Andersonville for the same reason. Check out Guesthouse’s new in-house boutique, The Collection, while sipping spirits poured by Koval this Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. during Late-er Night Andersonville.
The Standout: A high-end, gourmet kitchen in every suite, with full-size stainless appliances, granite counters, and the kitchen tools to go with it. For families, Guesthouse also provides complimentary high chairs, cribs, and baby monitors.
Secret Weapon: Big suites that range from 700 square feet for a one-bedroom to close to 1,800 square feet for a three bedroom.
4. Le Méridien Chicago—Oakbrook Center
2100 Spring Rd., Oakbrook, 630-368-9900; from $107
Following a $25-million renovation of the former Renaissance Hotel, Chicago’s first Le Méridien opened at Oakbrook Center this past July. A complete transformation turned the exterior of the dated nine-story hotel to a dark grey that pops from the suburban skyline. Inside, modernity drives design across 172 minimalist rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooftop restaurant with a 3,000 square-foot ballroom, and a bright, airy lobby with a café (order coffee from a master barista) and a focal point: a multi-colored mural by Chicago artist Justus Roe. Go now for frenzy-free holiday shopping at the outdoor mall just across the parking lot (Nieman Marcus is in view).
The Standout: El Tapeo, the rooftop Spanish tapas restaurant with a lounge and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Secret Weapon: Two ESPA Spa Suites, each with its own relaxation lounge, ESPA treatments like the Salt & Oil Scrub, and a “wet area” with a soaking tub, heated mosaic tile bed and shower.