Found in the heartland of America, Illinois beckons visitors with a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the iconic skyline of Chicago, with its towering skyscrapers and world-class museums, to the serene shores of Lake Michigan and the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest, the Land of Lincoln offers an enticing array of experiences. Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant energy of the city, the charm of small-town America, or the tranquillity of its rural landscapes, Illinois promises a diverse and unforgettable journey for every explorer. Here are our favourite places to stay in Illinois.
The LaSalle Chicago, Autograph Collection
The LaSalle Hotel in Chicago is the latest addition to Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Located in the heart of Chicago’s financial district, the hotel is a perfect choice for the sophisticated business traveller. The hotel occupies the top five floors of a historically iconic landmark from famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and offers guests plush and spacious guest rooms and suites – with a classic Art Deco style and club-like vibe running throughout the hotel. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Grill on 21, offers a modern twist on a classic American grill and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guests can make use of a great range of wellness facilities including guided yoga, meditation and priority access to the spa at the JW Marriott just below the hotel.
Londonhouse Chicago, Curio Collection By Hilton
An international go-to brand, Hilton occupies a city landmark in Chicago, with this beautifully restored 1920s hotel. It’s close to the DuSable Bridge, offering centrality and many rooms with river views. The three-level rooftop lounge – a new addition during the 2016 refurb – is where the best panoramic vistas are to be enjoyed and is a very popular spot for marriage proposals. A 22 storey glass tower was also added during the overhaul when the interiors received a contemporary facelift. Londonhouse also has two restaurants, a full-service spa and a fitness centre.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago
Once a hat factory, this 14 storey building dates back to 1912. The sleek Kimpton brand has retained its heritage with vintage accents. Wingback seats, velvets, marble, grandiose curtains and bold patterns create a homely, yet smart vibe. Monaco Chicago has 191 rooms (feel free to bring your dog for the stay, it’s a Kimpton policy) an upscale take on a Midwest eatery, fitness suite and bar. Treatments are available in-room and if you’ve forgotten something be sure to ask the front desk, they’re stocked with everything you’re likely to need during your stay.
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago has received a Forbes Five Star rating and the AAA Five Diamond Award for over two decades. Found beside the Magnificent Mile, it has 185 suites and 160 guest rooms, recently renovated by The Getty’s Group Inc. The spa is huge, incorporating a 50-foot roman style pool, while the expansive conference and banqueting spaces make it a popular choice for business events or private celebrations. Executive Chef Michael Zachman serves up contemporary American cuisine in Allium, with its adjoining bar frequented by Chicago’s well-heeled set.
The Peninsula Chicago
Attracting the wealthy elite, this plush hotel offers a central location, wonderful views and a dreamy spa. Elements of The Peninsula group’s Asian heritage are teased into the interior design, but the public areas mostly fall into a 1920s theme. 339 rooms are neutrally decorated, in teak wood and creams and each comes with its own tablet device. There are three places to eat including Chinese cuisine at the refined Shanghai Terrace. The Peninsula is family-friendly too with the convenience of a kids’ club, adjoining rooms and lots of activities for younger travellers (you needn’t pack a games console for a visit here, Playstations are supplied).
Looming high above Magnificent Mile, Conrad’s lobby is found on its 20th floor, replete with a remarkable suspended installation featuring 1300 leaves of bone china. Also on the top floor is Baptiste & Bottle a high-end gastropub offering 75 different types of whisky, and in summer a Japanese eatery, Noyane, serves sushi on the rooftop. Once an office block, the hotel received an elegant re-design by Pierre-Yves Rochon in 2016, with its 287 rooms now decorated in warm, earthy shades for a comforting ambience.
The Langham Chicago
Located in River North and overlooking the Chicago River, is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Bauhaus style 1970s architectural triumph. Steel, expanses of glass and fine art create a trendy yet opulent airy feel. The Chuan Spa is a haven of tranquillity, with a peaceful pool area, saunas and steam room. Chef Ricardo Jarquin serves American-Italian dishes at Travelle Kitchen + Bar, while club level guests enjoy access to an exclusive 12th-floor lounge. Families are welcome and can even bring up to two dogs and a cat, making it one of the most pet-friendly places in the city.
The Ritz Carlton Chicago
The famed British brand occupies floors 15 to 30 on Water Tower Place, close to the lake. 434 rooms have massive picture windows and a warm colour scheme. Steaks, seafood and pasta are the specialities at The Ritz restaurant, Torali, but there’s also a cafe, lobby bar and cocktails on the roof (when the weather allows). It’s a great choice for those with children: Ritz Kids Club provides a ‘red wagon’ on arrival from which each child can choose a toy, a candy cart does the rounds, the restaurant has menus for younger diners and rooms come with mini-sized robes and slippers. And there’s a lovely spa for the grown-ups.
Found in the happening Gold Coast district, Thompson has a cutting edge, effortless style. The design is industrial chic and retro, with homely couches, armchairs and shelves of books. Feature pieces like filament lighting, copper chandeliers, an iron stairwell and quirky artwork ensure it’s interestingly off-piste in comparison to some of the more traditional luxe hotel brands in the city. Velvets, geometrics and urban prints are found in the airy, comfy rooms. Nico Osteria under the direction of award-winning chef Paul Kahan is a destination restaurant. And guests can enjoy a drink under the impressive glass atrium at Salone Nico, with its gold underlit bar and warehouse-style brick walls.
Built in the 1920s, the Viceroy’s terracotta and brick exterior has remained. But an entirely new 18 storey glass building has been erected behind, filled with mid-century furnishings, all imagined and created by Goettsch Partners and TAL Studio. It’s an arty design hotel, slightly high-brow – the grand lobby even sports a poetry wall. A rooftop pool offers summer swims, plus there’s a fitness centre, ample meeting facilities for business travellers and a rooftop lounge, Devereaux. A seasonally changing menu from chef Lee Wolen can be found at the in-house restaurant Somerset, with the option of sharing family meals, as well as fine cuisine.
The Gwen, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago
Named after Chicago’s own Gwen Lux, a pioneering female sculptor of the 20th century, this Mariott property is found in the McGraw-Hill building. Glamorous art deco interiors reflect the building’s origins with 311 rooms in taupe and gold palettes. Upstairs at the Gwen is the hotel’s vibrant rooftop bar, but the alfresco facilities aren’t limited to libation. In summer, guests can experience unique urban glamping on the hotel’s 16th-floor terrace. Sleep in a queen-sized Black Pearl bed in a lavishly furnished huge bohemian Lotus Belle tent. Meanwhile back indoors, the hotel’s restaurant, Kostali, serves delicious North African/European cuisine.