While 2015 was Chicago’s year for amazing new hotel brands, such as the first-ever Virgin hotel and the fascinating Chicago Athletic Association, 2016 looks to be as much about the new as it is about dramatically repositioning the old.
The 452-room LondonHouse will open this spring in the London Guarantee Building at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, becoming the latest Chicago architectural gem to be turned into a hotel. There’s a modernist twist: Developer and owner Oxford Capital Group plans to connect the 1923 building to the adjacent Mather Tower with a new 22-story glass tower that will serve as the hotel’s grand entrance off East Wacker Drive.
Inside, find a progressive-meets-historic design scheme by Simeone Deary and sleek rooms inspired by the 1920s, a destination spa with over-the-top packages, food and beverage concepts led by Chef Riley Huddleston (Aviary, Godfrey), and technology that lets you check in with your phone. On the 21st floor, Chicago’s first three-level rooftop terrace promises a bar, lounge, and the London Guarantee’s original ornamental cupola, restored and transformed into a private open-air dome.
85 E. Wacker Dr.; website; 312-357-1200
A few blocks north, the Conrad is a move from the brand’s previous Rush Street location (rebranded as the Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago). Opening in June in partnership with hotelier Laurence Geller, the 289-room hotel will include 12 suites, a fitness center, and high-tech touches like a mobile app for checking in and keyless room entry. A yet-to-be confirmed 20th-floor restaurant and rooftop bar should be of special interest.
101 E. Erie St.; website
The fifth Kimpton property slated for Chicago (joining Palomar, Allegro, Burnham, and Monaco) and another adaptive reuse project, this yet-to-be-named, 293-room hotel is scheduled to open this spring within the 1894-built New York Life Building at Monroe and LaSalle Streets. The hotel plans to infuse mod luxury into the vintage space, including a high-end salon and day spa. Look for a library lounge and a 15th-floor rooftop lounge with a retractable skylight roof.
122 W. Monroe St.
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Despite the steady boom of remarkable Chicago hotel openings these last few years, there are few if any that have been able to hold court like the 60-story Waldorf Astoria. Outlets like Travel+Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler have consistently ranked Waldorf among the top five hotels in the U.S., but the hotel rests on its laurels no more: Under new ownership (also with Laurence Geller) the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is undergoing a $22 million renovation scheduled for completion this fall. Among the changes, the room count will expand by 26 to 215, the spa will be refreshed, a restaurant will be added, and the courtyard will be transformed into a piazza with outdoor seating.
11 E Walton St.; website; from $315
The Peninsula Chicago kicked off a major room renovation in June with a plan to revamp its 339 rooms by April. Sophisticated tablet-driven technology, which allows guests to control everything from room temperature to room service orders, is only half of what stands out. A complete redesign also means modern furnishings with high-tech touches, dark-wood elements, and a luxurious cream palette. Tip: New rooms are available now, so be sure to request one when you book.
108 East Superior St.; website; from $475