What’s it like The unassuming, although still marbled, street level entrance with a small concierge desk and baggage facility leads to a lift to the actual lobby, when the sense of being in a Peninsula property hits in all its sophisticated grandeur.
Where is it? Located in what the locals call the “Magnificent Mile” shopping district and within in walking distance of key landmarks such as the John Hancock Centre and Museum of Contemporary Art. It is also a short taxi ride away from many of the city’s other premier attractions, and dining and drinking hotspots.
Room Facilities I stayed in an executive suite (74 sqm), which occupied a corner position (as do all exec suites) affording masses of natural light and different views of classic Chicago landmarks, including Lake Michigan. The one-bedroom suite with its separating hallway between the bedroom and living room felt more like an apartment (bigger than many in Hong Kong) and was tastefully furnished in warm tones of beige, brown and golden yellows. It had a sophisticated ambience complemented by tasteful furnishings and décor and at the same time it was a relaxing space – it felt like home. The large marble bathroom had a separate shower and the deep bath with its own large window also had a view of the lake.
In terms of hardware the list is long, including the work items mentioned in the Business and Meeting Facilities section, which can be conducted at the large desk.
There is also an iPod docking station, three TVs, DVD/CD player, mood lighting, individual thermostat controls, and a display indicating the outside temperature.
One of the highlights of staying in a suite is being able to enjoy a three-hour chauffeur-driven tour (or shopping trip) in one of the hotel’s bespoke Mini Cooper S Clubman vehicles that are fitted with rooftop box to store purchases, a mini-fridge, iPad and iPhone.
Restaurants and Bars I tried all three restaurants in the hotel and the bar. Shanghai Terrace serves Shanghainese and Cantonese with a modern twist; in the summer its hip outdoor terrace is a popular spot for a cocktail and bite to eat or private functions. The Lobby, reminiscent of the lobby of The Peninsula in Hong Kong, is a grand, light-filled space in which to enjoy an international menu that highlights local, ethical and seasonal produce of the highest quality. It is also the place to indulge in afternoon tea or the weekend chocolate buffet. Pierrot Gourmet is a buzzing European-style café with a small alfresco area that is frequented by many Chicagoans for a morning coffee and pastry, a full breakfast or a satisfying lunch, all of which I can recommend.Its rotisserie chickens sell out almost as fast as they are cooked. There is also The Bar, an intimate Art Nouveau inspired bar with fireplace that serves delicious cocktails and light snacks.
Business and meeting facilities In-room there is complimentary local calls, wifi, printer/scanner/fax machine and memory card reader. There is also a business centre, and 883 sqm of meeting and event space, including a grand ballroom, seven function rooms, and a boardroom. A new junior ballroom is set to open in the second quarter of 2012. The hotel also offers the services of a Conference Concierge.
Leisure facilities The award-winning 1,394 sqm Peninsula Spa by ESPA includes a spa with eight treatment rooms, manicure/pedicure room, steam rooms, fully equipped fitness centre with classes, stretch and yoga studio (I highly recommend the yoga classes), and a 25 metre pool and sundeck, both with fantastic views.
Verdict: Exuding quintessential Peninsula elegance with five-star service, facilities and rooms. It is also perfectly located for exploring the best of Chicago.
How Many Rooms 256 guestrooms and 83 suites
Room Highlight Each room is equipped with The Peninsula’s state-of-the-art electronic system that allows guests to control room features with the touch of a button
Price Internet rates for a mid-week stay in mid-February start from US$395 per night, excluding taxes
Contact 108 East Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60611, USA; tel +1 312 337 2888; www.peninsula.com/chicago