You’re coming to Chicago, but you’re not overly concerned either about flash and opulence, nor do you feel the need to dole out pennies for a good time. What you’d enjoy is a location that’s close to where the shopping, clubs, and tourist destinations are, but not necessarily one of those massive high rises that make up the skyline. You like it that the person at the front desk is possibly the proprietor or someone who knows a lot about the area. Also, it doesn’t hurt if the hotel has a touch of style, either contemporary or elegantly wrapped in Chicago’s design history. What you’re looking for is a unique experience, a boutique hotel. While you’re visiting Chicago, you’ll find that there are many such offerings downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
How do you find a boutique hotel? It’s a label that hotels are proud to carry, and they’ll frequently describe themselves as such. They are usually smaller and more intent on impressing their guests so that they’ll be enticed to return again and again for future visitations. For example, City Suites Chicago is a four-story hotel on West Belmont in the Boystown neighborhood, and it proudly describes itself as boutique. Rooms shed the boring traditional beige and white color scheme choices that won’t offend anyone, preferring vibrant colors and stylish décor. There’s a common dining area by a fireplace, and the room is well stocked with teas, coffee, and other beverages. Kinzie Hotel, another establishment that describes itself on its website as a boutique experience, provides a common gathering place with large tables, comfortable chairs, a bar, and snacks as well as a large continental breakfast in the morning.
Near Water Tower Center, the hint as to this next hotel’s identity lies in the name itself. Ivy Boutique Hotel offers the unique amenity of encouraging cycling in Chicago, with mountain biking onsite and bicycle rentals available. Rooms have iPod docking stations, minibars, free WiFi, and satellite programming.
Many hotel chains have realized people want a unique experience and you might be surprised if the boutique hotel you choose is actually owned by Marriott or Hilton. Don’t let that dissuade you as they will be just as committed to the boutique experience with the financial resources of a larger organization behind them.
If you say downtown, you should anticipate having to pay for parking; that’s a less common issue in the outlying suburbs. See if your hotel has a concierge, or if not, find out if the staff have tips on the best places to visit so you can maximize your enjoyment during your stay. Expect the staff to pull out the all the stops to impress you during your vacation.