Staying in Style Leads Straight to Chicago's Top Downtown Hotels

Many of Chicago’s top attractions are located downtown or near access points to downtown so staying at a hotel in the Loop or neighboring Streeterville or Gold Coast makes it a convenient home base for visitors.

Right in the Loop and within a few short blocks of the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, Grant Park and Willis Tower are the Blackstone Hotel, Palmer House Hilton, Hard Rock Café, Hotel Allegro, theWit and Trump International Hotel and Tower. Just east of Michigan Avenue is Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel which is worth a visit even if not staying there because of the architecture.  

Jump over the Chicago River (or take the bridge, if that’s easier) and head north to the Magnificent Mile. In the Streeterville area, home to the John Hancock building and Water Tower are the Sofitel, Peninsula Hotel and the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

Each of these Chicago hotels varies widely in cost and offers a range of amenities from spa and yoga studios to kid-friendly activities.

Since Chicago’s Loop area is designed on a grid, it’s easy to navigate by foot or cab. Parking in or near hotels is not inexpensive, especially for overnight parking, so if you don’t need to bring a car, leave it behind and opt to use public transportation, walk or take a cab.



Want to spend the night with AC/DC? Each floor at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago is themed to a particular rock band or musician. The hotel is conveniently located on Michigan Avenue within walking distance to many of the city's attractions including Millennium Park, the Chicago River and shopping along the Magnificent Mile. Each of the rooms include its signature Rock Spa bath products, flat-screen televisions and iPod docking stations as well as the ability to request a free guitar to play. Upgrades can score beautiful city views and other amenities. The Tower rooms are located literally in the tower of the historic Carbide & Carbon building while the Angels & Kings suite is a two and a half bath penthouse suite meant for entertaining, complete with custom bar.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Guests can order a guitar to your room and learn to play using free lessons through the television.

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With its location on the Chicago River and close proximity to Michigan Avenue, Trump Tower has one of the best views of Chicago's skyline. At check-in, kids get a "welcome pack," that includes age-appropriate goodies like a stuffed animal, coloring book or hat. Other pluses include kiddie cocktails, no-tear bath products and a kids menu at Sixteen, a two star Michelin rated restaurant located on the 16th floor. Parents of newborns like the diaper genie service that is changed twice a day by housekeeping staff and cribs with plush linens. Families also enjoy 75-foot by 25-foot heated indoor pool (5:30 a.m.-10 p.m.) with a sauna and steam room, and can book swim lessons for a fee. Tip: Ask for a room facing the river for the best views.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: The Spa guestrooms are secluded on two floors and offer direct access to The Spa at Trump.

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This modern hotel located near Millennium Park is a hidden gem, especially for sport enthusiasts. (Think 5-star amenities for 3-star prices.) There's an 8,000 square foot fitness facility that includes a half basketball court and 25-yard lap pool. Outdoors, there's a 80,000 square foot rooftop deck, 25-foot outdoor lap pool and a wading pool for kids (open Memorial Day to Labor Day), plus a hot tub, 1/5 mile running track, sundeck, fire pits, cabanas and a dedicated yoga space. The location is also ideal for biking along Lake Michigan. Many parents will book suites with two connecting rooms (king connecting to two queens). Dogs are allowed (up to 60 lbs.) three-hour express laundry, free Wi-Fi, an onsite spa and a private movie theater room. Tip: Book a room on a Business Class floor--for a small upcharge, families have access to a free hot breakfast, snacks and refreshments.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Parents love this hotel for its extra amenities and reasonable price.

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Located on Michigan Avenue, The Peninsula features classically furnished rooms complete with marble bathrooms that include a soaking tub and steam-free inset television. It also offers several dining options from The Lobby, which offers American cuisine, to The Terrace, an outdoor dining option that serves small plates and specialty cocktails. The Spa at The Peninsula is well-known for its luxurious and pampering treatments, offering guests a haven of calm. Its on-site fitness facility offers 30 different complimentary classes per week as well as a heated 25-metre pool overlooking the city's skyline. The Peninsula Academy offers various classes including Little Bakers – a class for young budding chefs to learn how to make pastries.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: The Peninsula Chicago offers The Peninsula Academy, designed to give guests insider access to the city's historical, cultural and local lifestyle activities.

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The Cadillac Palace Theater is adjacent to the Hotel Allegro Chicago - a Kimpton Hotel, which is approximately six blocks from the Magnificent Mile. Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and the important commercial and financial districts of the city are within a few minutes of the hotel lobby, offering both business and pleasure travelers an easy and convenient launching point. Ferry services and the L train are also within walking distance, allowing tourists to easily reach the arts and museums for which the area is famous. Guests enjoy complimentary wireless Internet access, room service, satellite television and luxury appointments for the bed, furniture, and bathroom areas.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Easy access to attractions and transportation plus complimentary wireless Internet access make this hotel a convenient home base.

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theWit Chicago - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
Photo courtesy of Official Website

TheWit, a Doubletree Hotel, is located just blocks from Millennium Park and the Chicago Harbor. The sexy hotel attracts the fashionable set which flock to the ROOF, it's popular rooftop lounge that gets packed during happy hour until closing time. It's conveniently located next to the Red Line on the subway system, with easy access to Wrigley Field and other attractions. Guests loved the spa and yoga studio. They also appreciated the large soaking tubs in every room, as well as the large LCD televisions and complimentary cookies. Parking on the same block but not with the hotel as it's expensive to leave your car with the hotel. Touch screen phones in every room provide guests with direct access to the different service staffs.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: The ROOF, the hotel's rooftop bar, is one of the hottest places to enjoy a cocktail during the summer months.

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The Sofitel Chicago Water Tower is located in the Near North Side district, within blocks of the Magnificent Mile and Lake Michigan. Situated close to the Chicago-Red subway stop, the hotel is also ideal for trips throughout the city. Guests loved the junior suites, with corner rooms offering gorgeous views of the city. All rooms come equipped with large bathrooms, spacious closets, and marble fixtures. The hotel staff has been praised for attention to detail, with umbrellas offered to guests on rainy days. Guests raved about the hotel restaurant and noted that many packages included free meals throughout the day. They also loved the neighboring John Hancock Tower, with the best views in all of Chicago.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: The junior suites with the corner rooms offer gorgeous views of the city.

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The Blackstone Hotel has attracted sports legends, presidents, royalty and movie stars since 1910. The historic property's neoclassical Beaux-Arts architecture lends an air of opulence which continues throughout the lobby and guest rooms. 1,400 pieces of original artwork by local artists decorate the common rooms while each of the 328 guestroom and four suites include cable television, ironing sets, hair dryers, bathrobes, daily newspaper, in-room safe and high speed Internet service. A fitness center, dry cleaning and laundry services, bar/pub, and 24-hour room service round out the amenities. The hotel is conveniently located adjacent to Grant Park and three miles from the McCormick Place Convention Center.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: The Blackstone Hotel is a charming hotel located in the heart of downtown and within walking distance to the Art Institute and Willis Tower.

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Located in Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue, this Four Seasons is located in the heart of upscale shopping, including the American Girl Place. Families looking for luxury love the four lane indoor lap pool (specific children's hours, 12-and-under: Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat-Sun 8 a.m.-8 p.m.) and the 24-hour fitness centre that offers a variety of classes including yoga, pilates and water aerobics. Parents can have "the Candy Man" visit their room between 4-6 p.m., and have their kids pick out a few pieces of candy. Kids 5-and-up can take a cookie making class, (4 p.m. daily, $15, per child)and bake cookie with hotel chef. At check-in, children can "pick up a friend" from a wagon filled with toys for their stay. Parents like the spacious rooms with great views of the city and lake.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Parents looking for luxury love this hotel for its convenience and proximity to Water Tower Place.

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History buffs will appreciate the living and breathing piece of Chicago history in the lobby of the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel. Guests and visitors can often be found in one of the plush seats in the lobby staring at the 21 frescos which pay tribute to Greek mythology and love. The Michelangelo-esque mural was originally created in the 1920s by French muralist Louis Pierre Rigal. Guests can enjoy room service, city views, luxury bedding, satellite television and WiFi. There are also three restaurants (including Lockwood, a fine dining establishment), a beauty salon and a gift shop. Guests also have access to Balance Spa and Fitness located within the building and features a 10,000 square feet fitness center, indoor pool, Jacuzzi and steam rooms.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: History buffs will appreciate the living piece of Chicago history in the lobby of this historic hotel that boasts modern amenities.

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Meet Megy Karydes

Megy Karydes has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and most of her life in Chicago. While she’s traveled extensively internationally, visiting each of the 50 states is on her...  More About Megy