The famed Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast has been completely transformed into the sleek PUBLIC by Ian Schrager, a pioneer in hotel concepts. It’s all about cool style, quiet efficiency and great value, eschewing what he terms “design on steroids” in favour of classic good taste that embraces inclusivity rather than exclusivity.
Within the 285 very spacious rooms and suites (from $149), decorated in soothing colours, the emphasis is on creating a home from home for those on the road. Even the public spaces have a cocooning effect; the roaring fire, coffee and cake in the Library can be hard to leave.
The importance of good food in the flow of business is not overlooked. The legendary Pump Room restaurant, a popular hangout for celebrities and which infamously barred singer Phil Collins on the grounds of dress code, inspiring his No Jacket Required album, has undergone a “farm to table” revolution through the expert guidance of French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. At night its bar transforms into a “supper club” with tapas-style dining for convivial networking.
(1301 North State Parkway, +1 312 787 3700; publicchicago.com)
DOWNTIME AT … The shopping and restaurants on the Magnificent Mile are within walking distance and, just before the DuSable Bridge, is the departure point for the Chicago Architecture Cruise. Claimed by some to be the best 90 minutes you can spend in the city – the birthplace of skyscrapers – the river trip gives an enthralling overview of its “higher, taller” history, with Jeanne Gang’s Aqua among the latest additions (we’re just going to ignore the shameless erection that is Trump Tower, okay?). Adults $42. (465 North McClurg Court; chicagoline.com)
EAT AT … Party guests always end up in the kitchen and at Roister “the restaurant is the kitchen – the kitchen is the restaurant”. This new venture from chef Grant Achatz (of Alinea fame) has been garnering plaudits for seriously good food served in a fun and boisterous setting. (951 West Fulton Market; roisterrestaurant.com)
B&B AT … A luxurious bolthole, Villa D’ Citta is a Tuscan-style villa hidden behind the façade of a 19th-century greystone in the heart of Lincoln Park. There’s a stocked kitchen and wine tap, not to mention the private grotto. Rooms from $129. (2230 North Halsted Street, +1 312 771 0696; villadcitta.com)
Aer Lingus flies from Dublin to Chicago twice daily; for more info visit aerlingus.com. This article features in the current issue of CARA magazine, the inflight title of Aer Lingus.