Hotel stores tend to be small, harshly lit and filled to the brim with basic but overpriced items like toothpaste and aspirin on one side and chintzy souvenirs on the other. But then again, no hotel is quite like the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.
Here, Madison Hall, with entrances from the hotel and Madison Street, offers an upscale shopping experience without feeling haughty. Split into two storefronts, owners Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel opened the shop in July 2015 and curated the store to reflect its century of history—one side was once the woman’s lounge for the old athletic association—as well as ensuring the shop stays stocked with everything guests could possibly need, plus things they’re likely to covet. The finest products come from all over Chicago and the world, from locally designed vintage-style Chicago tees to luxurious European jackets and accessories for men and women.
“The whole idea for these shops is obviously for the hotel guests but also for people in the neighborhood, because there’s not a lot of infrastructure over here if you want to buy hip things,” Lawson said.
On your way home from work and need a nice, quick gift? Pick up some over-the-top fresh flowers or choose a simple, ready-to-go arrangement. Need lots of gift ideas? Check out the travel and fashion books or pair some stationery with nostalgic candy you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking for something more substantial, check out the dazzling array of jewelry and hand-embroidered handbags on the women’s side or browse products from Aesop and Blind Barber and all of the latest tech gadgets on the men’s. You’ll find a wide range of price points at Madison Hall, and the shop even has a classic barber chair to host rotating barbers for special events.