I guess I am directing this at Chitown (for obvious reasons), but would appreciate others input as well.
I'm looking for an upscale hotel in downtown Chicago for a weekend w/ the lady (her b-day). Price is a concern, but I want quality. I have been looking at the Affinia, and the Wyndham. I would also appreciate recommendations for a good Italian restaurant. Any help is greatly appreciated
Very OT--Chicago hotels
I guess I am directing this at Chitown (for obvious reasons), but would appreciate others input as well.
the chinatown hotel. it's quite luxurious, and by luxurious i mean it smells awful, is nearly impossible to find, and is all around great.
It was the Chinese language TV that got me. Thanks Dex!
I love the intertubes!
I spent the night before my interview watching Chinese soap operas and HBO.
I wouldn't recommend taking a black light to the rooms, either.
Take her to David Burke's. It's not Italian, it's a steakhouse, but it's really really f-ing good.
The Omni is nice and in a decent spot on Michigan, if you plan to do some shopping and the usual tourist stuff. The Hilton is good, and at the other end of Michigan right across from Grant Park. I've stayed at the House of Blues as well, it's good.
Is Burke's on Michigan?
It's called David Burke's Prime, and it's in the James Hotel on State street. It's expensive as HELL.
Considering that I already bought the normal presents and all that jazz, and this was sort of on a whim I will probably skip it. Run on sentences suck.
The Sheraton is real nice, its about 150 a night but its got the best beds and if you get the right room a great view of Downtown.
I second the Sheraton
GREAT location for getting to Millenium Park, Shopping on Michigan Ave, Museums, Art Institute, Etc.
Update - I was actually thinking of the Hyatt on the south side of East Wacker next to the swisshotel, but the sheraton is like just northeast of it and in a good spot too.
I would recommend checking out a place called Club Quarters, they are a kind of unique Hotel concept, primarily geared towards business travelers, therefore weekend rates are very good for the location (either in Central Loop or on Wacker and Michigan). Another one worth checking out are either W Hotel, and the Hyatt on Wacker. Otherwise I don't have too much hotel experience in the city, being from here and all that.
For Italian, I would highly recommend a place called Volare. It is kind of tucked back in the River East neighborhood, not as expensive as some of the places you would normally find in the tourist areas, but for the price is very delicious. Another one to check out is Osteria Via Stato. I have never been (but am going on Friday night) and my wife claims its a great place.
On the off chance you end up in Lincoln Park/Lakeview, my favorite Italian place in Chicago is Sapori Trattoria, on Halsted. Its a little bit farther from where you will be visiting most likely, but is reasonably priced and very excellent food.
The one on Wacker is where I stayed my wedding night. Try and get one of the top rooms (the elevator does not even go all the way to the top). The rooms at the top are somewhat small but they take up the entire floor less the staircase. You will will have a 270 degree view of the city.
I like DiNotto in Old Town. First time I was there was several years ago and every time I have been back I thought it was excellent.
Club Quarters is a business hotel. So for a romantic weekend? You've got to be kidding me! The Peninsula is the best hotel in Chicago hands down (I live here, so I should have some cred).
I live here too. Lets celebrate.
Personally, I don't put too much stock in staying at the nicest place, if you are here as a tourist you will be spending most of your time experiencing the city.
I suggested Club Quarters since you can get fantastic deals (admittedly, if you stay at the loop location it is a haul to get places...However, I just checked, a room at the Wacker and Michigan location is $94 bucks a night for this weekend). It is a really nice place for the deals you can get, and that location puts you walking distance from the restaurants and places you will be seeing.
Obviously if you are going to stay at the nicest place in town, irrespective of cost, then yeah, go somewhere like the Peninsula. But that wasn't his question, now, was it?
I'm actually staying in the Club Quarters on Adams and Clark as I type this, and it is a perfect location. I got a single room with a queen size bed for only 75/night, which is cheap as hell for downtown Chicago. I can't complain one bit. As far as romantic, it isn't super sweet, but the rest of the city by far makes up for it.
Sapori is a good place. I'm moving a block away in June. Can't wait. If you are going out that direction and want a small little place that makes awesome pizza/pastas and is good for a glass of wine, I also recommend Spacca Napoli. It's further northwest of wrigley (ravenswood and Montrose I want to say but don't quote me)... delicious. I could talk about Chicago food all day.
Sapori Trattoria is excellent for the price
Is awesome. And they give you a ton of food.
Osteria Via Stato is a good place. I can vouch for that.
I would give it a B or B+. Some things were a big hit (Parmesean crusted Sweet Onions) and others were just okay. For the price though, I think it is a win. Sapori is probably still my favorite Italian place in the city if I am not going to drop a ton of money.
Best hotel in Chicago. Pricing is a little high :) But seriously, if you do get a chance to stay there on a discount, it's a great experience.
I second the nod for the Omni. I also recommend the Hilton on Michigan Avenue. If you don't want to be on Michigan Ave (but why wouldn't you as a Michigan fan?), then the Palmer House (Hilton I believe) is a nice place. The Drake Hotel is also a nice place and is also located on Michigan...
As far as nice Italian places go, there will be no shortage in the city... There is a pretty high price range. I've been to Spiaggia before. That is a nice place to take the lady and it's right in the middle of the mag mile. The Italian Villiage is in the loop. IIRC, they have a couple levels and each level is a different Italian place. Each level ranges in price too... Have fun! Don't forget to get an Italian beef loaded with giardiniera...
Can't wait to move back to Chicago.
Yeah, going to Portello's for sure to get an Italian beef before we leave.
FWIW, both full-service Hilton's (the one on Michigan and the Palmer House on State St.) are outside of the main shopping/bar/restaraunt area of town.
To be honest, the Palmer House is a terrible recommendation. They have been doing renovations for a while now, it's in a terrible area for a romantic weekend (Loop instead of Streeterville / Gold Coast), and is overpriced. If you want outdated and overpriced in a bad area.. then by all means.
I also tend to think the Drake is a little overrated. Nice area though.
Been there several times, every time it's been awesome, great location too.
slight disclaimer though, haven't been there in the last year
Well, I'm a Hotel Director of Marketing in Chicago. So...
When are you coming? Prices in Chicago are extremely volatile based on season and whether there is a convention.
The nicest hotel in the city, in my opinion is the Peninsula, but it's ungodly expensive.
A step down in price, but still quite nice is the Fairmont. I'd also take a look at the Renaissance on Wacker, and the Swisshotel - they're all somewhat upscale, contemporary hotels. Also, the Sofitel generally gets the best customer reviews in the city.
I'd generally stay away from Club Quarters (or anything in the loop) for a social visit merely because you'll be leaving that area of town everytime you want to do something. I'd go no further south than the river.
If you're choosing between the Wyndham and the Affinia, they're both a good location, but, IMO, the Affinia is significantly cooler, and has an awesome roof-top bar.
For Italian, if you want the most authentic experience possible, heading to Taylor St. (it's a bit of a hike from where you'd be staying, however) would be reccomended. The original Francesca's is there. Other than that, it's hard to miss at places like Rosebud's or Carmine's (these two have the same menu).
Short notice, but we're going this weekend. Going to leave tomorrow and stay Fri and Sat night. I looked at the Peninsula, but can't justify the price.
The Sofitel is definitely an option too. Appreciate the info about the loop, because that would have been annoying. Thanks for the info.
was happy both times
There are many nice hotels in Chicago to stay at. You should be able to find reasonable deals.
It really depends where you want to stay, on where to reccommend.
For a tourist, you will either want to stay near or on Michigan ave or in the Gold Coast. Do not be seduced by low rates in the loop as it is dead on the weekends.
Many great hotels from the pricey: four seasons, penninsula, sofitel; to next tier down: hyatt regency, westin, marriott
I like to stay at Westins and there is one around the 800 block of Michigan ave.
As far as italian restaurants, there are some great choices. If you don't mind a short cab ride, I would reccomend Tuscany or Rosebud in Little Italy on Taylor. There are several other neighborhood places as well, but if you are going to get in a cab you might as well go to little italy in my opinion.
Good luck and spend lots of money here.
you will have a better experience staying closer to the action. The Hyatt Regency and Swishotel is about as far south as you will want to go. You are still within easy striking distance of the museum campus if so inclined, but night life/day life/vibe will be much better for you.
Make sure you grab a burger at the Billy Goat (the original) on lower Michigan ave, just north of the river (basically under the Wrigley bldg). Whenever I have friends in town I always bring them there and they are never disappointed.
the peninsula is the jam
i usually stay at the w on west adams, but rooms can be a bit small for a vacation type trip
with the Kimpton boutique hotel chain when I was in Washington DC. Its a bit more decorative than your typical hotel room and they are generally located in old renovated downtown buildings. Maybe its not considered fancy, but its definitely different. They have pretty good weekend rates too.
It looks like Chicago has the Hotel Monaco and the Burnham Hotel and Allegro. I have no idea what they are near to in the city though.
I appreciate it.
On another note; if anyone is staying in the Detroit area, check out the Townsend Hotel (in Birmingham). We stayed there Valentine weekend and all I can say is it's worth every penny. Their restaurant, the Rugby Grille is amazing, best roasted chicken I have ever had. Ever.
Damn, I should have utilized the MGo for my trip to Boston in June. Good thinkin', TIMMMAAY. I spent a good 4 hours trying to find the perfect hotel taking into consideration price/location/"niceness" of the hotels. I found that a place like the Marriott was $350 a night!!! I found a decent place, not far from the Marriott for much cheaper.
I usually agonize over review after review, and so on, and on... Then I was getting my daily intake of MGo, and figured I'd give it a shot. Thanks again everyone, still undecided, but I think Dex's input carries more weight than the rest of y'all. Chinatown it is...
put in a low bid (30 to 40% lower than published rates) for a 5* in the Mag mile/ Gold Coast area and see what happens. I got the JW Marriot in Orlando for $150 a night in March, when the Marriott.com price was $299.
In terms of actual hotels, The Parc Hyatt on N.Michigan is awesome, and the W Lakeshore is really nice (smallish rooms, but great bar/ restaurant). The Sofitel was also pretty nice.
1) Stay at the James Hotel if it's in your price range (quick check on Orbitz for a few weeks from now had it basically the same price as the two you were looking at).
2) For Italian and not big loud rambunctous places, I'd look at Piccolo Sogno, A Tavola, and Gioco. And if you can blow big bucks on dinner, then Spiaggia is the only way to go.
Also, are you coming in the near future, or is this several months out when it's warmer? Some Italian places have great outdoor dining, but obviously that's not an option the next few months.
Are you doing the dinner tomorrow night? Tomorrow night is the last night of Restaurant Week and Chef Week. A ton of restaurants have $32 3 course meals for that, including Gioco (Chef Week) and Piccolo Sogno (Restaurant Week).
See these links:
I was gonna be a smart-ass and say "well, we try to eat dinner every night", but with the awesome links I had to preface it. Thanks.
Also, I'm now thankful that I broke down and got a Blackberry, so I can reference these suggestions while there.
And if you're willing to go away from Italian, the Lobby at the Peninsula is participating, and Tizi Melloul is a fantastic place for a nice romantic dinner and they're actually giving you their 5 course Crescent Room menu for the $32 bucks. I've had that before and it's excellent.
Here's the menu (pdf):
You don't choose -- you get ALL of that stuff even with just two people, if they do it the same way they did when I went with my wife a couple months back.
One comment, stay away from the Italian Village restaurants. I found them to be very uninspired and kind of pricey for what you got. Chitown is of course correct about Carmine's and Rosebuds, those are can't miss (though trend a little pricier).
Stayed there once, it was really nice. Kind of a small feel, plus a really nice free happy hour, tons of good food and good wine. I would recommend it if its not more than the other ones.
If you want to trek up to check out Wrigley Field/the Clark Street scene on either night you could start out with dinner at Mia Francesca on Clark just north of School. Great Food and very reasonably priced. BYOB too if you want to grab a nice bottle of wine to take with you - I think they charge like $5 corking fee, but worth it to save a little cash and still have some nice wine with a good meal. You could even take the El train to get to the neighborhood from downtown.
Sofitel has amazing beds and is right near (but not on) Michigan Ave. I used to work in Chicago for a major consulting firm and they always put clients up at the Sofitel, Peninsula or Palmer House. The Westin River North is not too bad either; it's where I generally stay.
Second that Carmine's and Rosebud are good places and are near the Gold Coast/Michigan Ave. area you'll probably be. I'd also recommend getting drinks in the Signature Lounge at the top of the WaterTower hotel -- it's expensive but worth the view. Second City is a comedy club/show and is another good activity.
Signature Lounge for cocktails is a phenomenal call if "romantic evening" is your goal. One clarification - it's in the Hancock Building, not the Water Tower Mall (they're next to each other). It's a bit overpriced, but there aren't that many places you can have your drinks 96 stories in the air.
I hear people denigrate this place as touristy - and it kinda is - but where the hell else can you get drinks on the 96th floor and look out over the city and the lakeshore?
It is touristy. It is also pretty damn cool. We take out of town clients up there after dinner if they're interested, especially foreign clients.
I wouldn't eat at the Signature Room for dinner as virtually everyone I've talked to that ate there said it was overpriced and not really that good, but the Lounge I think is worth what they charge -- considering the observation deck charges, it's like doing that and getting a free (or cheap) drink with it to boot.
Sometimes it's pretty crowded though and you have to wait in line for a while to get a seat.
timmmay I don't even drink and but I am thinking about picking it up just so I can go to this place and drink 96 stories up that sounds about as cool as can be.
I don't drink too much either, and I never would have considered that, but it sounds great.
I went there for dinner for work - the food was OK, but not nearly as good as it was priced. The drinks aren't either, but at least you're only getting set back $10 a pop for the view instead of dropping $250+ for dinner for two for mediocre food.
If you are willing to part with a few extra bucks for the sake of a really remarkable place, I'd suggest Cafe Spiaggia. It's the downmarket sister restaurant to Spiaggia - which is one of the premier Italian restaurants in the country, run by Tony Mantuano - but it shares the same kitchen and has many of the same dishes. Of course, by 'downmarket' we're still talking handpainted frescoes on the walls, white tablecloths, and some tables that look out over Michigan Ave. (just not over the Lake, like the parent restaurant does). Anyway, I went there to celebrate my wife getting her master's degree, and it was fucking amazing. Still pretty expensive though - about the same as Osteria Via Stato or Italian Village, but significantly better food (especially in relation to Italian Village - skip that place.)
Yeah, Osteria's food is good but it is a terrible place for anything resembling romantic and is why I didn't mention it. It's loud as hell, and you will be sharing a table with up to 6 other people. Sure, they'll put dividers on the table between you and the other group(s), but you're still sharing a table.
Spiaggia and the Cafe are awesome. Unfortunately, they didn't put any of their amazing gnocchi variations on their Restaurant Week menu, but you can always go there and just order off the menu. I've been to a few events thrown in the private rooms of Spiaggia and the food is spectacular.
Might be worth ordering off-menu for. Signature dish. Actually, I'm surprised that's not on the Restaurant Week menu.
check out the BIG BAR in the Hyatt Regency. I saw a thing about them on Food Network last week.
If you need to find the addresses for any restaurants or bars:
I am not a native of Chicago (actually right across the lake from it) so I don't know a lot of it but I will tell you this, Giordano's is fan-fricking-tastic. Not overly fancy so it may not suit what you are looking for in a restaurant but if you want the best pizza in the world go to Giordano's. They have a website that you can check out. I have also heard (but have not experienced) Lou Malnotti's was really good. There is a GIordano's right across the street from the Sears tower. It works out really well if you were going go there and do the tour. One piece of advice. If you have never been there plan some time to just walk around downtown and check out the architecture of the buildings. It does not cost anything to do but the skyscrapers are amazing to look at. On a side note If the Sears tower does make it onl your list of to dos when you come out of there you are within easy walking distance of Millenium park. Just something to think about.
Giordano's is great, as is Lou Malnati's.
I prefer Gino's East, the crust is more buttery there than at the other places. You always have Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due (Not the same thing as Uno Chicago Grill, though I think whomever started the chain had their origins in the original Chicago restaurant) if you want to try what is claimed as the "original" Chicago style pizza...though the wait gets up to 2 hours sometimes at those places.
Pequods - on Clybourn just north of Webster in Lincoln Park. AMAZING deep dish pizza. Looks like a dump on the outside but nice on the inside. Kitty corner from the Kerasotes Movie Theater (Websterplace) too so it is always a good dinner and a movie option.
Totally agree on Pequods. Ask any true Chicagoander about this place and they will recommend it above all else. The rest (Giardanno's, Gino's, Uno/Due, etc.) are all for the people who moved here after graduation and for the tourists...
Never had good luck with Giordano's. I think I've had it more often as takeout in some crappy hotel in the burbs, though.
Uno Chicago Grill is the official corporate name. They still own Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due.
Lou Malnati's is the best deep dish, IMO. But this is an age old argument, it seems. Gino's is really only good for particular tastes (I happen to like it), as it's crust is made from cornmeal - that's a non-starter for quite a few people.
I'm a Lou's guy, though I also really like Pequod's. Pequod's crust isn't for everyone though, there's carmelized/burnt cheese on the outside of it. I think it's delicious, but some people think it's too weird.
Giordanos uses a metric fuckton of cheese on their pizza and I think it's just too much. Ginos is OK, but given I like Lou's so much better I never used to order it.
Much to my chagrin, I've never actually made it there. I didn't get down to Chicago that often when I lived in Madison, but still...
I will say I love the cornmeal in the crust, though.
I usually don't go for real 'fancy' restaurants anyhow. I will probably check that out since we will go to the tower for sure. I have been to Chicago a few times, but for one reason or other, never been to the top of Sears Tower.
On Ashland is the best deep dish around, in my opinion. It doesn't get nearly the pub that Geno's, Giordano's, or even Eduardo's does, but it won a few tasting contests in the Tribune and Time Out Chicago, if I'm not mistaken.
It is seriously, seriously, amazing. But not very cool on the inside. Actually, this isn't a very useful post for the OP, but for all those in Chicago - do yourself a favor and get some Art of Pizza.
If you're looking for something right off Michigan Ave, try the Whitehall Hotel. It's on Michigan and Delaware, less than half a block from Hancock Center so you're pretty much in the middle of things, as it's just off the Magnificent Mile. It's a pretty nice hotel and I think the prices are reasonable compared to the bigger chains. Could be wrong but it's worth a look.
Lots of good restaurants in the area, I think Whitehall has an Italian restaurant next door that they also run. It's not bad, but the best Italian restaurants in my experience have been on Taylor Street. There's a great one by Rush Medical Center that I ate at the night before I ran the Chicago marathon.
I stayed there once but the train got in town at 3 AM and I left the hotel at 9 AM and never went back before I left so ... uh .... the beds were nice?
Just hit the inbox:
'Ten Things To Do This Weekend' and 'Dining Guide' from Crain's Chicago Business:
I guess at this point you probably could have just looked in the phone book and gotten the same amount of ideas. now what you need to do is print all of these individual ideas off and put them on the dart board and then tell her to pick. Do us a favor though. Let us know how it goes. Hope you and she have fun.
I was really hoping for exactly this. There are definitely some like minded people on these boards, so I wanted to get some actual opinions from people here. I will say it again;
She actually knows nothing about it, so I can't have her choose. I'm going to tell her we're going to a movie or something, idk what. The thing that's going to suck is trying to pack all of her shit w/o her finding out (not to mention there's no fuggin way I will get everything she needs= shopping!) She's bound to figure out somethings up as we keep going west on 94. I will keep y'all informed. Thanks again for all the suggestions, I'm still deciding on a hotel.
The Crown Plaza Silversmith in the loop is nice. Stayed at the Westin by the Hancock, ok. Manhattans at the top of the Hancock were $12, view was great. Agree on Chi. Village, not my favorite. Giordano's pizza was fabulous. A couple of out of the way places, Mexican themed was Adobo, food was great. Breakfast try Nookies, great food, great price for big city and about 2.5 miles from downtown.
A couple years ago I booked a stay at whatever the hell the Silversmith was before they changed owners (or at least the name). I remember driving up and down the street looking for the place I'd booked the reservation at.
Eventually I wised up and looked at the street number, talked to the doorman and got the car parked. The woman behind the counter told me they'd changed the sign that day.
You can't go wrong with Finestra on Clark street in Andersonville. The prices are reasonable and the food is great.
Bustling, fun atmosphere -- great Northern Italian-type -- veal chop out of this planet -- not casual, up (IMO) in scale from Carmine's/Rosebud/Francesca's, but not as rooty-tooty as Spiaggia.
I'm surprised no one mentioned the W. It's hard to describe... eclectic? Avant garde? If your wife is into to the modern, trendy, euro-style hotel with nightlife, you'll be a hit. If not, avoid.
W is overpriced, but it is nice. If you like paying $400/night for a $300 hotel, by all means.
Also the one in Streeterville used to be a Days Inn / Comfort Inn or something like that... so keep that in mind if you're ever thinking of staying there.
It used to be a Ramada.
As an FYI - just ask for a random company's rate... some companies have sweet deals at hotels. That's what Chevy Chase would do anyway.
Pequods is one of the best thin crusts in the city. Although you should note that the toppings are under the cheese, and it can tend to make the whole thing slide off. But I used to eat it all the time when I lived near webster place.
For the stuffed, I do prefer Giordanos. Spinach and Saugage stuffed is the best one, but it is as described above, very cheese intensive, and they use a metric tonne of sausage. One or two slices and you are stuffed.