While practicality may be the reigning trait of many a Midwesterner, The Peninsula Chicago, one of the city’s most glamorous hotels, stands in stark contrast to that play-it-safe mindset. The 15-year old, 20-story behemoth, situated in the heart of Chicago’s storied Magnificent Mile and overlooking Lake Michigan, has, in fact, has thrown down the gauntlet when it comes to both in-room sophistication and technological innovation.
The in-suite tech alone—think tablet-based systems that control everything from lighting, room temperature and in-room requests—has earned the hotel the accolade of the most high-tech in the city. These same “smart” devices (suites house as many as three) will also display menus from restaurants across the city, complimentary access to newspapers around the globe, flight information and much more … and that’s in addition to personalized mobile concierge access.
But technology alone can’t take the place of the hands-on, over-the-top luxury for which The Peninsula Hotels are known, and the devil is in every last detail of this Bill Rooney-led room redesign that feels both fresh and downright residential. That homey feel comes across thanks to subtle references to the Windy City in the form of custom Bernardaud china and hand-embroidered art wall centerpieces, both of which pay homage to the chrysanthemum, the official flower of Chicago. There’s also inspirations pulled from neighboring Lake Michigan, in the form of meandering marble and wood-grain finishes on the built-in cabinetry, custom Pratesi bed linens in a wavy pattern, and, of course, the panoramic view of the water itself.
It’s masterful details like these—and the artisans who were employed to create such thoughtful inferences—that infuses contemporary attitude into the storied hotel.
Outside the welcoming doors of The Peninsula Chicago, the keys to the city await. And, as the hotel embarks upon its 15th anniversary, they’ve designed a program around just that—unlocking those doors that reveal exclusive access to the city’s culinary, intellectual and cultural genius with more than 15 curated programs. Think fast-pass access to museum exhibitions and the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel; private kitchen tours at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or VIP seating and transportation to sold-out Broadway shows, such as currently playing blockbuster “Hamilton.”
Beyond these curated “Keys to the City” experiences, though, Chicago’s finest destinations beckon. Not to be missed is Chicago Architecture Foundation’s brilliant River Cruise tours, during which certified docents both delve into the history of and interpret the city’s architectural landmarks. The Art Institute of Chicago is another must-visit, and is just a pedestrian bridge away from Millennium Park and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate. Like The Peninsula Chicago, the park’s fresh-faced, contemporary-chic attitude puts you right at home.