the luxury hotels of Chicago

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I spent last weekend in Chicago where I stayed at the Four Seasons Chicago. While in the Windy City, I had site inspections of three other luxury properties, the Ritz-Carlton, Peninsula, and Elysian. Here are my impressions of the luxury hotels of Chicago:

Four Seasons Chicago is a traditional hotel with great service. Entering through the lower lobby at street level, elevators take guests to the main lobby on the 7th Floor where the front desk, concierge desks, and the hotel’s restaurant are found. Take the elevator one floor down to gain entry to the 900 North Michigan Shops, anchored by Bloomingdales. Four Seasons guests receive a discount cards that provides worthwhile savings throughout the mall.

Guest rooms are located on floors 30-46. Room decor is attractive but understated; the Four Seasons Chicago offers comfortable and spacious room with great views. Corner rooms provide the best views of the city and Lake Michigan. Marble bathrooms feature separate soaking tubs and step-in showers, although there is only a single sink in a vanity that is quite wide enough for two quests.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago is likewise a Four Seasons property (predating the establishment of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company) with an entirely different ambiance. Just a short walk away from the Four Seasons, the 12th floor lobby of the Ritz-Carlton is filled with natural light with a beautiful fountain at its center.

Guest rooms feel slightly larger than those at the Four Seasons and are decorated in a more contemporary fashion with splashes of color. There are two basic color schemes — blue topaz or pewter. Bathrooms have dramatic black granite counters. Deluxe rooms and above offer dual vanities while Premier rooms and above provide separate step-in showers and guaranteed lake views.

The Peninsula Chicago has the look and feel of a Peninsula property. Its dining room reminded me of the lobby of the Peninsula’s Hong Kong property.

Superior, Deluxe, and Grand Deluxe guest rooms are identical in layout except for view; Deluxe rooms offer city views while Grand Deluxe rooms offer lake views. Virtuoso guests can often be offered upgrades from Superior to Grand Deluxe at time of booking, and Virtuoso guests booking a Grand Deluxe can often be accommodated with an upgrade to an Executive Suite at booking.

The Executive Suite is a great room with a cozy living room and bedroom. These suites are corner rooms, each providing great views and lots of natural light. The bathrooms have dual vanities and separate step-in showers - everything most guests would want.

The Elysian (now the Waldorf Astoria Chicago) was originally Virtuoso, but their Virtuoso affiliation has mysteriously disappeared; even the hotel’s sales manager could not explain the circumstances surrounding this question. This is a shame because the The Elysian is truly worthy of consideration for your stay in the downtown Chicago area. So no Virtuoso amenities, at least for now, but the pricing is right (ask me about discounted Tzell Travel rates) and the property is superb in every respect.

Guests enter the hotel lobby through a courtyard and enter the hotel’s art-filled, contemporary lobby decorated with bright splashes of color. The hotel has large guest rooms and suites, averaging 890 square feet. Bathrooms feature white Carrera marble with soaking tubs, step-in showers, and dual vanities. Because guest rooms are on lower floors here, this would not be the hotel to choose if you want the most dramatic views, but otherwise this property receives high accolades. A client who recently stayed at The Elysian described her stay as “all 10’s” in terms of room quality and service. Hopefully, The Elysian will soon be returning to Virtuoso!

luxury hotels of Chicago (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2011 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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