636 South Michigan Avenue
Tel: 800 468 3571
Tel: 312 447 0955
After a $128 million restoration (and a decade of legal wrangling), the historic Blackstone has emerged as the swankest hotel in Chicago's revitalized South Loop, convenient to Millennium Park, the Art Institute, and the theater district. Behind the redbrick, white stucco, and green copper Beaux Arts exterior are 332 updated rooms whose masculine red, black, and beige decor features Eames chairs and original works by contemporary Windy City artists. In place of the usual tourist bedside reading, the culturally attuned management provides books by local authors, including social histories of the Chicago blues and witty biographies of Chicago firehouse dogs. The lively in-house restaurant, Mercat a la Planxa, dishes up exquisitely presented (and reasonably priced) Catalan grills, tapas plates, and wine flights, conceived by Chicago-born chef José Garces.
When to go: Early summerthe hotel makes a good base for walking tours of the Loop's architectural landmarks, and is across the street from Grant Park, site of many lakefront festivals.
Which room to book: North-facing rooms on the 23rd Club floor clear surrounding buildings and have impressive skyline views, while east-facing Lake Michigan-view suites beneath the copper Mansard roof have high curved ceilings, porthole windows, and skylights.