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Chicago's Most Astounding Outdoor Hotel Amenities


? Scenesters angle for a shot at the delectable rooftop lounge and bar at theWit, the hotel with the fiercest party gene. Renowned as one of the best rooftop hangouts anywhere in Chicago, and among the "three top rooftop lounges in the world" according to Travel + Leisure, the 7,000 square-foot 27th floor space has an enclosure for dining and dancing to go with a spawning outdoor patio and "hangover" seating area. There's musical programming nearly every night, and a daytime dance-a-thon on Sundays.


? Opened in late 2011, the upper-scale Radisson Blu hotel brand brought a good thing to Jeannie Gang's masterpiece Aqua Tower— the chance for anyone to spend a night in the instant icon, albeit for a steep price. A stay lets you frolic in two pools, one of which is a large lap pool topping the building's parking podium. In fact, the entire 80,000 square-foot outdoor space is a pleasure, with gardens, a running track, hot tub, wading pool, yoga space, sun deck, cabanas, and fire pits. It overlooks the park at the center of a new forest of residential towers known as Lakeshore East, and thus isn't cramped by downtown's dense mass of skyscrapers.


? This ludicrously large 1,544-room hotel also makes its mark with event space, spa, and lake views. The pragmatic choice is for a hotel to place its pool indoors for year-round use. The minority of hotels with full-fledged outdoor pools sometimes still offer a second indoor one. The downtown Hilton Chicago only has one indoor pool, except that its rooftop elevation permits an attached sun deck with patio furniture, trees, and wrap-around views. It's a pretty great compromise.


? The Essex Inn near Michigan & Roosevelt isn't in the same league as the luxury set of hotels we've been steadily trotting out for y'all during Hotels Week. That's okay, the centrally-located hotel offers rates starting at $150/night and receives above average user reviews. One reason it excels among peers is its large indoor rooftop pool with attached outdoor sun deck— the same arrangement as the Hilton Chicago just down the avenue but less financially burdensome. The cozy sun deck faces Michigan Ave, looking out at the lake without obstruction.


? The Doubletree by Hilton on the Magnificent Mile makes the list on the strength of its rooftop pool— a pretty captivating one amidst the towers of Streeterville and within spitting distance of Michigan Avenue. Better perfect that backstroke with so many eyes trained on you. A large pool, the broad expanse of deck also helps defy the dense realities of the neighborhood.


? Another stalwart of the Mag Mile, the Avenue Crowne Plaza is featured today for its rooftop pool— high enough, and close enough to the water to boast a mix of city and lake views. Unlike some rooftop pools this one is buffered from the wind by a 12-foot wall which is slanted like the hull of an ocean liner. We're not sure why that matters, but it's cute. Windows preserve the views and don't worry, the elements can still get to you.