Chicago’s Haute Hotel Scene Is Booming. Here’s Where to Stay and Play.

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is not only one of the nation’s great shopping stretches, its flanked by the kind of hotels and restaurants that make the dropping after the shopping a storied experience.

Now, a wave of new openings and refreshed institutions around the Mag Mile are filling the Windy City’s sails once again.

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The most significant is the a newly arrived St. Regis.

A slinky Supertall on wacky multi-layered Wacker Drive, the St. Regis Chicago building’s curvy, crinkly exterior is yet another Chicago skyline masterpiece: Or should we say mistresspiece? At 101-stories and 1,198-feet-tall, it’s the tallest building in the world deigned by a woman (Jeanne Gang, head of Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects) and the third tallest building Chicago — a city that is home to the third tallest building in the world: the Willis Tower, née the Sears Tower.

Opened in May, the hotel looks onto the Chicago River; hello, Lake Michigan in the hazy distance! It’s marbled high ceilinged halls and corridors form steep canyons of cool and calm. The suites are a cocoon with enormous bathrooms and more space than usual. Nothing compares with the massive 4,600-square-foot, two-bedroom Presidential Suite (from $25,000 per night).

Guests are assigned a butler, who do butlerish things. . .Like bring coffee, press suits, and even perform the nightly sabrage on the Miru terrace, a Japanese inspired restaurant (the succulent veggie sushi redefines the usually fishy dish).

A room at the St. Regis Chicago
The new supertall hotel has massive views from the rooms.

Miru is Chicago’s latest dining hotspot, brimming with well turned out folks showing off their new shopping finds on bodies soothed into glowing serenity by the “Celebration of the Senses Body Treatment,” a skin brushing, muscle releasing treatment at St. Regis’s 11th floor Iridium Spa. (Rooms: from $700 per night.)

Talking of spas and serenity, the nearby Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park holds a hidden gem. Just past the hotel’s sophisticated sports bar-tavern, the Columbus Tap, the serene Leaf Spa is indicative of the Fairmont Chicago’s discreet charms. Besides getting to the heart of health with muscle loosening deep tissue massage, this hidden haven has a create-your-own scrub Alchemist Bar, and a wishing tree to set your intentions—oddly, or not, “wealth’ is the most popular!  (Rooms from $250 per night.)

Another south of the river oasis of genteel calm is Chuan Spa, a Chinese medicine zen station at the Langham Chicago. Though only ten years old, this hotel is entrenched in city history—it’s set in a 52-story landmark tower, the last building designed by renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the father of the Chicago Skyline and American third quarter modernism.

And, boy, the lake view from The Langham, Chicago’s expansive 12th floor Club Lounge, makes it worth the additional fee for morning through night food and drinks—and wow views. Or dine in style at Travelle, the second floor Asian styled signature restaurant; or tip a pinkie at Pavilion, where a Paddington Bear afternoon tea is served. (Rooms: from $625 per night.)

The presidential suite at the Ritz Carlton Chicago
The presidential suite at the newly renovated Ritz Carlton goes big.

North of the river, where Michigan Avenue offers up its serious shopping, another Asian influenced luxury spot, The Peninsula Chicago, is tucked just off the Magnificent Mile on East Superior Street. There’s an away from it all vibe that hits as soon as you step into the grand marbled lobby and are soon relaxing in a sleek suite before, or after drinks at the sultry Z Bar.

Or go healthy with the special plant based, but no less delicious menu in the Lobby restaurant. In addition to the lavish spa, the expansive fitness center offers such beyond-yoga things like a one-on-one stretch session that will literally pull your body back into shape. Walk taller and lighter. (Rooms: from $525 per night.)

The Mile’s Water Tower Place shopping mall is topped by the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, which in itself is topped by the staggering bi-level Presidential Suite, where a spiral staircase and the building owner’s Lichtenstein, and other modern art works provide some pretty nice visuals (from $10,000 per night), all part of the hotel’s recent $100 million renovation.

The exterior of the Peninsula Chicago
The Peninsula Chicago is all about style.

Rejuvenate in the 11th floor Ritz-Carlton Spa by K’Alma, which has a Leaping Bunny certified Luzern facial suite. The 12th-floor Rooftop at Torali, adjacent to the main dining joint, the Italian steakhouse themed Torali, is a hotspot for a glass of something bubbly. (Rooms: from $528 per night.)

At the Magnificent Mile’s northern Gold Coast edge, on East Superior Street, the Four Seasons Chicago’s grand bar and restaurant, Adorn — a name surely inspired by the upscale shopping at 900 North Michigan Shops below — is where Gold Coast residents dine and sip, immaculately turned out, of course.

The Four Seasons Chicago’s five-star charms are many, of course, but Adorn is of particular note due to its sprightly chef Ritchie Farina, whose gastronomic wizardry is translated into dishes that are as tasty as they are Insta-worthy. Choose à la carte or go all in with remarkable tasting menus for all types, including vegan. As much as Farina’s considerable imagination runs wild in the application, he honors his true mistress, flavor, in such seasonal gems as a cherry tomato and watermelon gazpacho with a hint of basil oil, expertly married together. Each element sparkles singularly and then dances together on the tongue: summer in a shot, and like a magnificent day of shopping, soon shot by (rooms from $540 per night).

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