Sprawling chain hotels can be a snooze. Luckily, Chicago boasts an impressive assortment of boutique properties that trade size for warm personalized service and lashings of character. Here, seven of our favorite Chicago boutique hotels, from a family-run charmer far from the madding crowd to a British import crowned by one of the city’s best rooftop pools.
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Best boutique hotels
This luxe and lovely family-run spot, set far from the Mag Mile tourist hordes in artsy Andersonville, begins rolling out the thoughtful touches even before check-in, sending guests a welcome email brimming with in-the-know Chicago tips. On arrival, you’ll find a house staff eager to help you discover the best of the neighborhood, from providing dining recommendations and coordinating in-house afternoon tea service furnished by decadent local pastry shop Vanille to cluing you into nearby events and nightlife. 25 modern one-, two- and three-bedroom suites feature conveniences like full kitchens and laundry facilities, and each are child- and pet-friendly, making the property the perfect pick for a hip family getaway.
Find some green space in the city at this vintage mid-rise, fronted by sprawling Lincoln Park, a paradise for morning joggers, afternoon strollers, or travelers with pups in tow. Speaking of the latter, the hotel gives canine guests the royal treatment, offering a pet package featuring toys, treats, and even a doggie turndown service. And there are plenty of pleasures for humans, too, from the eclectic homegrown artwork that decks guest room walls to the farm-to-table fare at Perennial Virant, the ground-floor eatery from Michelin-anointed Paul Virant, to the cool cocktails and wraparound views at the J. Parker, the rooftop lounge.
Gadget geeks will get a kick out of techie amenities, like flat-screen TVs concealed behind bathroom mirrors and mechanized drapery, at this 63-room property in Loop- and River North-adjacent Streeterville. It’s all of a piece with the faintly futuristic vibe that dominates here, from cool white textiles and angular armchairs in guest rooms to hallways lined with abstract artwork and pillars of glowing light. For a dose of relaxation, splash out on one of the hotel’s suites, which feature spacious marble-clad bathrooms fitted with rainfall showers and soaking tubs.
You can almost feel the history in the walls at this Loop landmark, built in 1895 as the Reliance Building by no lesser architectural lights than Daniel Burnham and John Root. Following a 2015 refresh, the property retains touches of old-world elegance—see, for instance, the elaborate ironwork and sumptuous marble that graces the stairways—while skewing decidedly modern and clean in guest rooms. Guests can enjoy custom yellow beach cruisers to explore the city, a fitness center, afternoon coffee and cupcakes in the lobby and comfy slippers you can take with you.
Situated at the heart of hipster haven Wicker Park, this 69-room newcomer--the long-awaited reimagining of the 1929 Art Deco Northwest Tower--earns coolness cred for its common spaces, like the French-accented Café Robey and rooftop pool-adjacent Cabana Club, appointed in a sleek palette of whites and grays. But for the minimal vibe of its public face, its mix of queen, king, and suite-style rooms aren’t without homey creature comforts; think crisp 400-thread-count linens, supple denim robes, Bluetooth sound systems, and, thanks to the building’s unusual triangular shape, an abundance of windows that usher in natural light.
Unique amenities abound at the 40-room Chicago outpost of this London-bred hotel and private members’ club concept, from a screening room kitted out with red velvet club chairs to a gym that one-ups standard cardio equipment with a professional-caliber boxing ring. Guests gain access to an array of spaces off-limits to the public, like an intimate bar and a cozy drawing room done up in vintage furnishings as well as a 60-foot rooftop pool with fabulous city views. On the service front, expect charming touches like “One While Changing,” a program in which a cart-bearing bartender visits each room to mix guests a drink while they get dolled up for the evening.
Its 250-room footprint may not fit the typical boutique profile, but thoughtful design touches and memorable shared spaces make the world’s first Virgin Hotel seem more intimate than many properties a fraction of its size. Super-stylish guest rooms feature a spacious dressing area, adjustable beds, darling Smeg mini-fridges in the brand’s signature fire-engine red, and gooseneck kettles ready to brew up coffee from local roaster Bowtruss. There are multiple options for heading out without leaving the building, including a sceney rooftop bar (Cerise) and an all-day diner (Miss Ricky’s). Perhaps most inviting, though, is the Commons Club, a sprawling, comfy second-floor lounge that feels like the property’s living room.