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Kim Peiffer, Forbes Staff
From its globally-recognized cuisine to its impressive array of outdoor activities, the Windy City is a prized destination for a variety of travelers, from the frequent flyer who is jetting into town for a meeting to a family looking for a weekend getaway. Whether you’re looking to dine at a Michelin star restaurant or take advantage of the amazing lakefront access that Chicago has to offer, there’s something for everyone in this progressive Midwestern city. The best hotels in Chicago follow suit, offering an array of activities and amenities, no matter what reason you’re visiting.
Accommodations in Chicago run the gamut, from luxury hotels with coveted spas to lively spots with rooftop bars that will satisfy your party craving. For a great nightlife scene, we recommend a night at The Hoxton, home to buzzy cocktail bar Lazy Bird, while those looking for the best spa in the city will find it at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. For those traveling with pets, your pup is sure to be pampered at Thompson Chicago, and travelers looking for a true luxury experience are sure to fall in love with The Peninsula. Below, our selections for the best hotels in Chicago for every type of travel.
Best High-End Hotel In Chicago: The Peninsula Chicago
The Peninsula Chicago
Who Will Love It: Luxury seekers; business travelers; those looking for exceptional service
All-Star Amenities: Expertly appointed rooms and suites; superior location downtown; oversized fitness center and indoor half-Olympic length swimming pool
What Not To Miss: Dim Sum at Shanghai Terrace; sunset cocktails at Z Bar’s stunning rooftop patio; The Spa’s Rasayana Detox Body Wrap
Location: Magnificent Mile
When its luxury you’re looking for, look no further than the Peninsula Chicago, the city’s most luxurious hotel stay. From its superior service to its award-winning cuisine, The Peninsula is offers an oasis of extravagance just steps from all the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue. Rooms and suites offer ultimate comfort, equipped with custom Pratesi linens, classically furnished décor, blackout curtains and tablet technology—so you can control everything from the lighting to the temperature to the TV all from an iPad next to your bed. The Peninsula even offers a unique check-in/check-out experience dubbed “Peninsula Time,” which offers guests maximum flexibility to check in and out at times that suit their schedule.
If you can muster up the energy to leave your luxurious suite, pay a leisurely visit to the hotel’s fitness center and spa, which features an expansive variety of workout equipment and treatments to satisfy all of your wellness cravings. Lounge on the sun terrace with a book, work up a sweat on the cardio equipment, do some laps in the gorgeous indoor pool or book a customized massage to get all the kinks out from your flight. When evening hits, ride the elevator up to the rooftop for hand-crafted cocktails at Z Bar, the property’s rooftop hotspot And don’t miss dinner at Shanghai Terrace, the upscale Chinese restaurant, which easily boasts some of the best dim sum in the city.
Best Spa And Wellness Hotel In Chicago: Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Waldorf Astoria, Chicago
Who Will Love It: Those who drool over opulence; wellness junkies; shopaholics
All-Star Amenities: Waldorf Astoria Spa; indoor pool; in-room fireplaces; soaking tubs
What Not To Miss: Himalayan Salt Stone Massage; expertly-crafted cocktails at Bernards
Location: Gold Coast
Upscale, cozy and chic, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago boasts relaxation and rejuvenation at every turn. From its highly coveted spa—where you can spend hours unwinding in hot tubs and a gorgeous pool before your treatment—to its well-appointed rooms and suites, a night here doesn’t disappoint. Many of the oversized rooms and suites have stunning fireplaces—a must in the cold winter months—in addition to rich furnishings and white marble bathrooms with soaking tubs (the oversized closets are an added bonus).
The property’s Gold Coast location is perfection, just steps from the famous upscale boutique shopping of Oak Street and just a few blocks from Viagra Triangle, known for its lively scene and iconic restaurants. But what truly keeps us coming back again and again is the spa; the 4th floor is a sanctuary of relaxation and wellness thanks to 14,000 square feet of pampering, from an indoor pool to jacuzzis, saunas and eucalyptus steam rooms in each locker room, perfect for enjoying pre or post-massage.
Best Hotel For Business Travelers In Chicago: The Langham Chicago
The Langham Chicago
Who Will Love It: Business travelers; spa lovers; couples looking for a romantic weekend getaway
All-Star Amenities: Chuan Spa; indoor pool with a star-lit ceiling; The Langham Club private lounge; sweeping city and lake views from hotels suites
What Not To Miss: CBD Renew and Nourish spa treatment; taking meetings (virtual or IRL) from the Langham Club
Location: River North
Occupying the first 12 floors of a landmark building that sits beside the Chicago River, The Langham, Chicago has a little something for everyone, from the business traveler who is looking for a centralized location in the city with great amenities for taking meetings to couples looking for a serene weekend getaway. The oversized guest rooms here are cozy, comfy and chic. Book an Executive Club room or suite to score complimentary access to The Langham Club lounge, the hotel’s 12th-floor club lounge that serves up everything from cocktails and lite bites to magnificent views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
Throughout the property, you’ll find plenty of quiet areas to work or enjoy a relaxing moment of downtime. A trip to the gorgeous Chuan Spa—equipped with a full fitness studio, starry indoor pool and a plethora of indulgent treatment options to relax, renew and restore—is a must. The CBD Renew and Nourish treatment is a top choice, featuring a satisfying exfoliation treatment, a full-body anti-aging mask, and a deep tissue massage with CBD-infused oil to finish.
Best Hotel Scene In Chicago: The Hoxton, Chicago
Who Will Love It: Those looking to be in the middle of the action; bachelor parties
All-Star Amenities: Rooftop pool and restaurant; underground jazz bar; co-working space Working From_
What Not To Miss: Late-night craft cocktails at Lazy Bird; tapas at Cabra; the Challah French Toast at Cira
Location: Fulton Market
Looking to see or be seen? The Hoxton, Chicago has you covered. Located in the buzzy Fulton Market district, this 182 room hotel is about as popular as it gets, thanks to its stellar location steps from some of the hottest restaurants and bars in Chicago. Rooms are snug but awesome, decked with mid-century furnishings, modern bathrooms with incredible showers, and warehouse-style floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the West Loop.
Whether you’ve got a hot date lined up for the evening or you’re out with friends, you’ll love the evening scene here. Start with cocktails in the lobby bar Cira, then retreat upstairs to coveted Peruvian restaurant Cabra, helmed by famed chef Stephanie Izard. (The Papas Huancaina fingerling potatoes are to die for.) After dinner, head downstairs in the basement to Lazy Bird, a swanky cocktail bar with live jazz music and a bustling scene that goes very late—you’ll likely wait in line here, but once you’re in, it’ll be worth it. When you wake up groggily the next morning after an epic night out, head downstairs to Cira to refuel—a Bloody Mary and a hearty breakfast will save the day.
Best Value Hotel In Chicago: Moxy Chicago Downtown
Who Will Love It: Those looking for a deal; Gen Zers
All-Star Amenities: The Game Room; Moxy Podcast Booth; Weekly DJs
What Not To Miss: Cocktails at Bar Moxie; late-night eats at Zombie Taco
Location: River North
You’ll get a great deal on a room, but you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything at Moxy Chicago Downtown, a River North Hotel brimming with distinct personality. This hotspot is perfect for those looking to socialize and interact, featuring such unique amenities as The Game Room—a shared space with shuffleboard, foosball and classic arcade games, and the Moxy Podcast Booth—a noise eliminating podcast booth featuring state-of-the-art recording equipment.
Traveling with a friend? Book a room with a lofted twin bunk bed. Looking to meet someone new? The Inner Circle rooms offer views of a Garden of Eden inspired art-installation—if you spot someone cute across the way, you can use your lightbox to ask them to meet you for a drink at the hotel bar.
Best Pet-Friendly Hotel In Chicago: Thompson Chicago
Who Will Love It: Design lovers; trend-setters; those who have no interest in leaving their pet at home
All-Star Amenities: Pets with no fee; Sferra luxury linens; rainfall showers
What Not To Miss: A reservation at the Chef’s Counter at Nico Osteria; The Marquee cocktail at Salone Nico
Location: Gold Coast
Just steps from an abundance of shopping and minutes from Oak Street Beach, Thompson Chicago has a prime location for any visitor, but its stellar pet policy is one of the many reasons to adore this hotel. Bring your furry BFF (both cats and dogs are allowed) at no additional cost (a rarity these days) with few restrictions, and rest assured that you can head to dinner in the evening and leave your pet in your room unattended. Make sure to go enjoy a lovely morning walk with your dog at one of several nearby parks.
With our without man’s best friends, this property has a ton to offer, including a scene-y Italian restaurant, Nico Osteria, a midcentury modern wine bar, Salone Nico, and stylishly appointed rooms draped in jewel-toned velvet furniture with floor-to-ceiling windows.
About Kim Peiffer, Your Chicago Guide
I have been covering travel for nearly two decades, from reviewing luxury hotels to visiting off-the-beaten path locations throughout the world. I’m always in search of a new ski town, a remote beach and a stellar cocktail (and the perfect spot to sip said cocktail, of course). I’m also always down for adventure on a vacation, whether its doing aerial acrobatics in a fighter jet over the desert or heli-skiing down a glacier in Italy.
I started my career in journalism right here in Chicago, and lived here for many years. As Forbes Vetted’s Executive Editor, I oversee our travel and hotel coverage. I’ve also written for Vogue, Robb Report, Travel + Leisure, InStyle, GQ, DuJour, Glamour, Oprah and many others. Follow my adventures on Instagram: @peifferk1