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Introducing Chicago's 18 Essential Hotels Guide For 2014

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To keep up with Chicago's expanding and ever changing hotel scene, we present to you the latest entry in our Hotel 18 series of the eighteen most essential hotels in Chicago. Instead of relying on user reviews, this year we appealed to you, our readers for your thoughts and rounded up an elite panel of experts that consisted of fellow real estate writers, industry insiders, and hospitality professionals to create a comprehensive and diverse mix of hotels ranging in price categories and locations. Construe "essential" as you will, however, our primary criteria was that each hotel offers and provides its guests a true Chicago experience, be it an established five star luxury spot downtown or a casual trendy newcomer in River North. So without further adieu, we present to you in no particular order, this year's 18 Essential Chicago Hotels.

Hotels are listed in no particular order or ranking.


· Previous Hotel 18 coverage [Curbed Chicago]
· More Hotels Week 2014 coverage [Curbed Chicago]

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1. Godfrey Hotel

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127 W Huron St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 649-2000
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The long anticipated Valerio DeWalt Train designed Godfrey Hotel is one of the latest entries to River North's booming hotel scene. The ultra trendy cubist-inspired Godfrey sports 221 brand new custom furnished rooms and is also the home of the indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge IO Urban Roofscape.

2. Kinzie Hotel

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20 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 395-9000
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The spiritual successor to The Amalfi Hotel, the Kinzie represents a complete conceptual and physical overhaul of its predecessor. The "new" boutique hotel pays homage to Chicago history and culture through its custom Windy City inspired interior decor, art and furnishings.

3. ACME Hotel Company

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15 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 894-0800
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The ultra hip ACME Hotel represents a departure from other touristy, high-business and generally bland chain offerings in River North. Although its rooms fall on the smaller side (roughly 200 square feet) of the scale, the hotel makes up for it through its unique amenities and packages, like the complementary use of Google Glass while exploring the city (for up to two hours).

4. Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

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401 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 644-0900
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As polarizing as The Donald is, most Chicagoans can agree that the Trump International Hotel and Tower is one of the most exciting architectural works of recent years. The five star hotel also boasts a Michelin-rated restaurant and a primo location along the Chicago River near popular tourist destinations and Mag Mile shopping.

5. PUBLIC Chicago

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1301 N State Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 787-3700
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The PUBLIC Chicago utterly oozes coolness. The brainchild of Ian Schrager, co-founder and former co-owner of the iconic disco-era nightclub Studio 54, this super contemporary Gold Coast offering is rather hip, but not overly pretentious. A departure from its previous life as the Ambassador East Hotel, PUBLIC Chicago still remains the home to the famed Pump Room bar and restaurant.

6. Palmer House Hilton

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17 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-7500
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Host to one of the most beautiful hotel lobbies in the city, the meticulously preserved Palmer House is a Chicago icon and the second largest hotel in the Windy City. The utterly palatial landmark hotel was founded by early department store magnate Palmer Potter in the late 19th century but purchased by hotelier Conrad Hilton in 1945.

7. theWit

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201 N State St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 467-0200
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Opened in 2009 to much fanfare, the contemporary Koo and Associates designed Wit Hotel blasted onto the scene just in time to avoid the real estate crash. The trendy hotel is also home to ROOF on theWit, a rooftop bar that serves as a scenester sanctuary during the day, and a full-on nightclub in the evening.

8. Dana Hotel & Spa

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660 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 202-6000
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A consistent fan favorite, the Dana Hotel & Spa makes another appearance on our list of essential Chicago hotels for combining its boutique hotel room offerings with luxurious zen-like pampering. Slightly austere yet inviting, the Spa at Dana is serious about relaxation and wellness.

9. The James Chicago

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55 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 337-1000
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A luxury gem off the Magnificent Mile, the James Chicago is a popular destination for travelers and locals alike who appreciate a true boutique hotel without the stuffiness. The 297 room hotel has received numerous awards including accolades for its David Burke’s Primehouse restaurant.

10. The Langham, Chicago

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330 North Wabash
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 923-9988
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A mainstay of Chicago's five star circuit, the Langham is not only a fan favorite, but also recommended by many on our expert panel and ranked #1 on Tripadviser's Chicago hotels list. Expect five star accommodations, service and prices. A weekend stay at the primo spot can easily cost as much as a month's rent for many Chicagoans.

11. Hotel Burnham

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1 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 782-1111
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Initially designed by John Root of Daniel Burnham's architectural outift, and completed by Charles Atwood in 1895, the Reliance Building is a shining representation of the early skyscrapers that made the Chicago School of architecture world famous. Holding nearly every landmark designation under the sun, the building was restored in the late 90s and reborn as the Hotel Burnham in 1999. This unique hotel is an absolute must visit for architecture and history buffs.

12. The Peninsula Hotel

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108 E Superior St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 337-2888
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Described as "effortlessly elegant" by one of our expert panelists, the Peninsula Hotel is a true super luxe five star, five diamond hotel with a highly lauded spa and restaurant offerings. Running with a "Far East meets Midwest" theme and located along the Magnificent Mile, the Peninsula is a favorite spot for celebrities and others who can afford to drop the serious coinage required to stay at the superior spot.

13. Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago

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701 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 440-1500
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Recently acquired by Paris-based Warwick International Hotels, the old Allerton has received a new name and will soon be going through major "product improvements" according to Warwick reps. Although a revived Tip Tap Tap Bar & Lounge is far from a sure thing at this point, a soon-to-be upgraded and updated Warwick Allerton Hotel deserves a spot on this year's list.

14. Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park

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200 N Columbus Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 565-8000
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The four star, four diamond rated Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park is chic and stylish, but not over the top. The hotel's lobby and guest rooms are subtlety luxurious but the hotel may be best known for its close proximity to and incredible views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.

15. Thompson Chicago

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21 E Bellevue PL
Chicago, IL

The Thompson Chicago is another fan favorite and expert panel approved hotel famous for its super cool aesthetics and decor. A Gold Coast "lifestyle" boutique hotel, the Thompson has recently nabbed a spot on Travel + Leisure's It List of Best New Hotels for 2014.

16. Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel

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221 N Columbus Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 565-5258

A popular spot for tourists and business travelers alike, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel is housed in the award-winning Jeanne Gang designed Aqua skyscraper. Although its guest rooms may not be as exciting as other nearby options, the hotel is surprisingly affordable considering its New East Side location, lake views and proximity to shopping and other popular tourist destinations.

17. Waldorf Astoria Chicago

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11 E Walton St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 646-1300
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The final super luxe on our list, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago holds its own among the finest hotels in North America with an incredibly long list of accolades, being named the best hotel in Chicago last year by Travel & Leisure and U.S. News & World Report. The hotel has also recently tapped chef and culinary virtuoso Brendan Sodikoff to head up its entire food and beverage program, including the menu of its lauded restaurant, Balsan.

18. Hilton Chicago

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720 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-4400
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The gargantuan Hilton Chicago opened in 1927 boasts a whopping 1,544 rooms and overlooks Grant Park. The hotel is famous for being a favorite of US Presidents, and making cameo appearances in many popular Chicago-based movies including Road to Perdition, U.S. Marshals, My Best Friend's Wedding and The Fugitive.

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1. Godfrey Hotel

127 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654

The long anticipated Valerio DeWalt Train designed Godfrey Hotel is one of the latest entries to River North's booming hotel scene. The ultra trendy cubist-inspired Godfrey sports 221 brand new custom furnished rooms and is also the home of the indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge IO Urban Roofscape.

127 W Huron St
Chicago, IL 60654

2. Kinzie Hotel

20 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

The spiritual successor to The Amalfi Hotel, the Kinzie represents a complete conceptual and physical overhaul of its predecessor. The "new" boutique hotel pays homage to Chicago history and culture through its custom Windy City inspired interior decor, art and furnishings.

20 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654

3. ACME Hotel Company

15 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

The ultra hip ACME Hotel represents a departure from other touristy, high-business and generally bland chain offerings in River North. Although its rooms fall on the smaller side (roughly 200 square feet) of the scale, the hotel makes up for it through its unique amenities and packages, like the complementary use of Google Glass while exploring the city (for up to two hours).

15 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611

4. Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

401 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

As polarizing as The Donald is, most Chicagoans can agree that the Trump International Hotel and Tower is one of the most exciting architectural works of recent years. The five star hotel also boasts a Michelin-rated restaurant and a primo location along the Chicago River near popular tourist destinations and Mag Mile shopping.

401 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

5. PUBLIC Chicago

1301 N State Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60610

The PUBLIC Chicago utterly oozes coolness. The brainchild of Ian Schrager, co-founder and former co-owner of the iconic disco-era nightclub Studio 54, this super contemporary Gold Coast offering is rather hip, but not overly pretentious. A departure from its previous life as the Ambassador East Hotel, PUBLIC Chicago still remains the home to the famed Pump Room bar and restaurant.

1301 N State Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60610

6. Palmer House Hilton

17 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603

Host to one of the most beautiful hotel lobbies in the city, the meticulously preserved Palmer House is a Chicago icon and the second largest hotel in the Windy City. The utterly palatial landmark hotel was founded by early department store magnate Palmer Potter in the late 19th century but purchased by hotelier Conrad Hilton in 1945.

17 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603

7. theWit

201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

Opened in 2009 to much fanfare, the contemporary Koo and Associates designed Wit Hotel blasted onto the scene just in time to avoid the real estate crash. The trendy hotel is also home to ROOF on theWit, a rooftop bar that serves as a scenester sanctuary during the day, and a full-on nightclub in the evening.

201 N State St
Chicago, IL 60601

8. Dana Hotel & Spa

660 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

A consistent fan favorite, the Dana Hotel & Spa makes another appearance on our list of essential Chicago hotels for combining its boutique hotel room offerings with luxurious zen-like pampering. Slightly austere yet inviting, the Spa at Dana is serious about relaxation and wellness.

660 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60654

9. The James Chicago

55 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611

A luxury gem off the Magnificent Mile, the James Chicago is a popular destination for travelers and locals alike who appreciate a true boutique hotel without the stuffiness. The 297 room hotel has received numerous awards including accolades for its David Burke’s Primehouse restaurant.

55 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611

10. The Langham, Chicago

330 North Wabash, Chicago, IL 60611

A mainstay of Chicago's five star circuit, the Langham is not only a fan favorite, but also recommended by many on our expert panel and ranked #1 on Tripadviser's Chicago hotels list. Expect five star accommodations, service and prices. A weekend stay at the primo spot can easily cost as much as a month's rent for many Chicagoans.

330 North Wabash
Chicago, IL 60611

11. Hotel Burnham

1 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Initially designed by John Root of Daniel Burnham's architectural outift, and completed by Charles Atwood in 1895, the Reliance Building is a shining representation of the early skyscrapers that made the Chicago School of architecture world famous. Holding nearly every landmark designation under the sun, the building was restored in the late 90s and reborn as the Hotel Burnham in 1999. This unique hotel is an absolute must visit for architecture and history buffs.

1 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

12. The Peninsula Hotel

108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611

Described as "effortlessly elegant" by one of our expert panelists, the Peninsula Hotel is a true super luxe five star, five diamond hotel with a highly lauded spa and restaurant offerings. Running with a "Far East meets Midwest" theme and located along the Magnificent Mile, the Peninsula is a favorite spot for celebrities and others who can afford to drop the serious coinage required to stay at the superior spot.

108 E Superior St
Chicago, IL 60611

13. Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago

701 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Recently acquired by Paris-based Warwick International Hotels, the old Allerton has received a new name and will soon be going through major "product improvements" according to Warwick reps. Although a revived Tip Tap Tap Bar & Lounge is far from a sure thing at this point, a soon-to-be upgraded and updated Warwick Allerton Hotel deserves a spot on this year's list.

701 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

14. Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park

200 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

The four star, four diamond rated Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park is chic and stylish, but not over the top. The hotel's lobby and guest rooms are subtlety luxurious but the hotel may be best known for its close proximity to and incredible views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.

200 N Columbus Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

15. Thompson Chicago

21 E Bellevue PL, Chicago, IL

The Thompson Chicago is another fan favorite and expert panel approved hotel famous for its super cool aesthetics and decor. A Gold Coast "lifestyle" boutique hotel, the Thompson has recently nabbed a spot on Travel + Leisure's It List of Best New Hotels for 2014.

21 E Bellevue PL
Chicago, IL

16. Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel

221 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

A popular spot for tourists and business travelers alike, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel is housed in the award-winning Jeanne Gang designed Aqua skyscraper. Although its guest rooms may not be as exciting as other nearby options, the hotel is surprisingly affordable considering its New East Side location, lake views and proximity to shopping and other popular tourist destinations.

221 N Columbus Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

17. Waldorf Astoria Chicago

11 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611

The final super luxe on our list, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago holds its own among the finest hotels in North America with an incredibly long list of accolades, being named the best hotel in Chicago last year by Travel & Leisure and U.S. News & World Report. The hotel has also recently tapped chef and culinary virtuoso Brendan Sodikoff to head up its entire food and beverage program, including the menu of its lauded restaurant, Balsan.

11 E Walton St
Chicago, IL 60611

18. Hilton Chicago

720 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

The gargantuan Hilton Chicago opened in 1927 boasts a whopping 1,544 rooms and overlooks Grant Park. The hotel is famous for being a favorite of US Presidents, and making cameo appearances in many popular Chicago-based movies including Road to Perdition, U.S. Marshals, My Best Friend's Wedding and The Fugitive.

720 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605