Chicago’s Best New or Improved Hotels

The Gwen Hotel in Chicago

Whether you’re planning a staycation or choosing a home base for your wedding guests or out-of-town visitors, these new and improved Chicago hotels won’t let you down. 

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago

With a new 15th floor club lounge and extensive guest room and fitness club renovations, this classic luxury property is getting a much-needed facelift. Guests who upgrade to Club Lounge access can enjoy five delicious food services throughout the day while soaking up views of the Magnificent Mile, Lake Michigan and historic Water Tower. Don’t miss the signature Ritz-Carlton dark chocolate, blending decadent Valrhona dark chocolate with Grand Marnier and candied orange peels.

The second phase of renovations begins in January, and by July 2017 the hotel will debut a brand new lobby, signature restaurant, bar, spa and 12th floor market café, all designed by San Francisco-based design firm BAMO.

The Kimpton Gray Hotel 

Kimpton Gray Hotel suite
A suite at Kimpton Gray Hotel

The Kimpton’s fifth and newest Chicago property is also its nicest, breathing new life into the 1894 limestone, granite and terracotta bones of the former New York Life Insurance building, now a historic landmark. The 293-room hotel hits a grand slam in the food and drink department, thanks to three sophisticated restaurant and bar concepts.

Vol. 39 at Kimpton Gray Hotel
Vol. 39 at Kimpton Gray Hotel

Steadfast serves three meals a day on the ground floor, including whole roasted dry-aged duck with a lavender honey lacquer and addictive chocolate-covered foie gras bites. Vol. 39 is a classy cocktail lounge and wine bar with a law library theme and great caviar and cheese service. On the rooftop, Peruvian Boleo spices it up with a live DJ, pisco cocktails and vibrant ceviche, empanadas and anticuchos — skewered meat and fish.

Sheraton Grand

The Sheraton Grand Chicago Club Lounge
The Sheraton Grand Chicago Club Lounge

This massive 1,214-room hotel on the riverfront underwent a $25 million renovation last year, including an expanded health club, new lobby, guestrooms and popular executive club lounge, along with new family rooms with two double beds and a twin sleeper chair to accommodate a family of five. Special amenities include a complimentary in-room movie, complimentary breakfast for two kids and traditional Chicago candies and snacks waiting in your room. With a plethora of room types and 57 suites, this is a great destination for a large gathering.

An Indian wedding at Sheraton Grand
An Indian wedding at Sheraton Grand

It’s the only hotel in Chicago with outdoor event space directly on the Chicago River Esplanade, including river gates allowing for a dramatic entrance by boat. Indian weddings are a specialty. With more than 125,000 square feet of event space, the hotel can accommodate 1,000 guests and has experience hosting Ganesha Puja and Mehndi ceremonies.  

Conrad Chicago 

Conrad Chicago lobby
The Conrad Chicago lobby

Smart, modern and demurely glamorous, the Conrad Chicago is the newest opening of all. Pierre-Yves Rochon and Puccini Group have transformed this former office building into a sleek new hotel with 287 rooms and 24 suites just steps from the Magnificent Mile. Mid-century modern artwork by Josef Albers and Frank Stella accent warm beech wood and minimalist bathrooms boast freestanding marble tubs with impressive views. Ascend from the ground level atrium to the 20th floor and view the delicate bone china and gold leaves hanging from the two-story sky lobby. Even meeting rooms have stunning 360-degree views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan.

Conrad Chicago
A guestroom at Conrad Chicago

Three restaurants helmed by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval include ground floor Italian café Il Tavolino and Baptiste & Bottle, featuring approachable Midwestern cuisine and a bourbon-centric beverage program. Next summer, guests will be able to enjoy sushi and sashimi at the rooftop Japanese restaurant too. 

The Peninsula

The Peninsula Chicago
A Deluxe Guestroom at The Peninsula

This past June, The Peninsula completed a yearlong guest room redesign of all 331 guest rooms and suites, incorporating the brand’s proprietary technology and new furnishings. The LED touchscreen wall panels are remarkably intuitive and now a mobile concierge is just a text message away. A delicate hand-embroidered silk chrysanthemum art wall is the crown jewel in each suite, and it’s impossible not to feel at home on the rich leather couches, surrounded by new darker wood paneling and lush fabrics. The Peninsula has also expanded its Keys to the City program, offering special access to 15 different Chicago attractions and experiences, like a private kitchen tour at Grace. 

The Gwen

The Gwen in Chicago
The Gwen lobby (Photo by Brandon Barre.)

The former Conrad Chicago adjacent to The Shops at North Bridge has been rebranded as a Starwood “luxury collection” property. The hotel is named after Chicago-born sculptor Gwen Lux, with a similar abstract aesthetic to Hilton’s LondonHouse property across the river, with bold material, colors and lines.

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