Public Hotel, Chicago (Brad A. Johnson)
Legendary hotelier Ian Schrager (formerly of The Mondrian, The Royalton, Gramercy Park Hotel, etc.) recently took control of Chicago’s aging Ambassador East and transformed it into a budget-conscious hipster hotel called Public. And yes, the Ambassador East has been home to the famed Pump Room restaurant since 1938—and, like it or not, Schrager has completely revamped that, too.
Public lobby, Frank Sinatra suite, Elizabeth Taylor suite and balcony view (Brad A. Johnson)
Location: The hotel sits two blocks north of the epicenter of Rush Street nightlife in the swanky Gold Coast.
Rooms: Bare, minimalist, and completely void of color, which is actually quite refreshing. The platform beds are supremely comfortable. But beware: The bathrooms are shockingly tiny, even in the sprawling Elizabeth Taylor suite (which has it’s own tktk-square-foot terrace overlooking the city). Complimentary wifi. No slippers or robes. Well, actually, robes are available, but only upon request.
Lobby: Sexy, quirky and fun, with a big fireplace and tons of seating for socializing. Amusingly ironic photographs mimic classic Flemish portraits. Espresso bar by day becomes a cocktail lounge at night.
Pump Room, crab toast (Brad A. Johnson)
Dining: The Pump Room, now being directed by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is excellent. The new décor is strikingly handsome, with only the slightest nod to the restaurant’s celebrated history.
What I like least: The black-out drapes cannot be closed without completely blocking the air-conditioner or heater. Take your pick: blackout curtains or climate control.
What I like most: Room service is delivered in disposable takeout containers, just like restaurant delivery. And prices are shockingly reasonable for hotel room service. A pot of coffee is only $5, and there’s no additional delivery charge (gratuity is added, of course). Plus there are several fantastic breakfast options—steel-cut oatmeal, fresh donuts, egg-white sandwich, etc—all of which come with coffee, juice and a banana for less than $10.
Rates from 135; 1301 N. State Parkway, 312-787-3700