The Peninsula Hotel, Chicago – USA
The Peninsula Chicago is set in the heart of the “Magnificent Mile,” the premier shopping district in this beautiful, lakeside city.
The Peninsula Chicago, one of a prestigious line of properties owned and managed by the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited group, opened in 2001. The property has won many awards over the years, and is undoubtedly one of Chicago’s most sophisticated properties, combining the delights of the Far East with Midwestern hospitality. Being in a city known for its architecture, style and elegance were key for the architects – Elkus / Manfredi Architects Ltd. of Boston, and for the interior designers – Babey Moulton Jue & Booth of San Francisco.
Rooms and interiors
The Peninsula Chicago has 339 luxurious and spacious recently refurbished guestrooms and suites furnished in a magnificent classical style, with the crème de la crème being the Peninsula Suite, which has its own large terrace and Jacuzzi. I am happy being in an Executive Suite, after a quick and easy check in. The room exudes that lavish Peninsula style, equally balanced between luxury and comfort. The hallway opens out onto a large living room with an oversized executive desk with a printer/scanner/fax machine, lounge and armchair positioned around a coffee table. Each Executive Suite occupies a corner of the building, ensuring excellent views. The bedroom has sliding doors to separate it from the living room, with the bed very enticing indeed. It is ridiculously comfy, with 100% Egyptian-combed cotton sheets, duvet and pillowcases by Fili D’oro and a mattress that is just right. The marble bathroom is sleek with a soaking tub by the window, double vanities and a TV. Yes, there is a TV so you can sink back in the bath and watch a movie if you want.
Being the Peninsula, the suite is quite high tech with a bedside panel controlling lighting and air conditioning with the touch of a button, as well as an iPod docking station and memory card reader. The very well set up mini bars – there are two – are complimentary.
There are several places to wine and dine at the Peninsula Chicago. First stop for us was The Lobby, quite magnificent with high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow light to stream in, and an elegant, yet casual feel. The Lobby offers all day dining and is famous for its Sunday Brunch and for its decadent chocolate buffet on Friday and Saturday evenings. It’s also known for its Afternoon Tea, which offer rare teas from around the world complemented by the most exquisite sweet and savoury treats, as well as live music. For our waistlines, we just enjoy an espresso coffee, saving ourselves for dinner in Shanghai Terrace. This restaurant features a menu of traditional Shanghainese and Cantonese dishes, with a modern twist conjured up with aplomb by Chef de Cuisine Ivan Yuen. The restaurant has a warm and welcoming air, with Chinese antiques, dark timber chairs and tables and lacquer trimming mixing beautifully with contemporary white walls and splashes of red curtaining.
The menu is extensive, the meals superb and the dessert, banana mango spring rolls with lime, caramel sauce and condensed milk, delicious.
The Peninsula Chicago also has Pierrot Gourmet, a European-style café and wine bar with freshly baked pastries, signature sourdough tartines, rotisserie chicken and salads, plus unique coffees and an extensive selection of wines by the glass. Then there’s the Bar, with its roaring fireplace and Art Nouveau feel ensuring happy conversation over premium cocktails.
After a big day seeing just some of the many incredible sights around Chicago, reinvigorate your tired body with a treatment at the Peninsula Spa. Guests can indulge in a wide range of relaxing and rejuvenating beauty therapies, inventive spa cuisine, the latest exercise equipment, and a relaxing 25-metre pool.
The Peninsula Academy is designed to give guests unique and unprecedented access to historical, cultural and local lifestyle experiences in each hotel destination, through a collection of bespoke programs for both adults and children. In Chicago, guests can enjoy a private tour of the Art Institute of Chicago, a cooking school at Shanghai Terrace, top seats to Chicago’s top shows, a guided cultural neighbourhood tour or a private architecture river cruise. For kids, girls will love the Princess for a Day program while boys will be super keen for the Chicago Fire House Excursion.
Guests who stay in a suite are invited to explore the city with a three-hour chauffeur-driven experience in a MINI Cooper S Clubman. That is a cool thing to do.
What I loved
The Peninsula Chicago was the first Peninsula Hotel to introduce Peter Bear, a costumed character who is dressed up in the classic Peninsula Page uniform. Peter Bear greets the hotel’s young guests and has been known to visit guestrooms bringing treats and spreading good cheer. During holidays and special events, he presents plush toys for children to take home a memory of The Peninsula Chicago. I did get to see Peter Bear, and wished I could take him home in my luggage.
The Peninsula knows how to treat guests, without going over the top. Every time I stay in one I feel a sense of “coming home”, as the staff are just so warm and friendly and the rooms are so impeccable.
The Peninsula Chicago, 108 East Superior Street (at North Michigan Avenue), Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA
Phone: +1 312 337 2888 or visit peninsula.com
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