Aaaahhhhhhh! That’s the overall first impression we had when we stepped into our suite at the Hotel Monaco. There, right in the heart of the most exciting (OK, noisy) part of Chicago, Kimpton Hotels had managed to insert a restful retreat. There for a weekend of opera at Lyric Opera of Chicago, we were within a pleasant, easy walk to the Civic Opera House. Millennium Park was around the corner. The theater district and Michigan Avenue were just over there. And when we sat in our secluded meditation stations in the window nooks, (yes, secluded meditation stations!) we could see the Chicago River and Viet Nam Memorial. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the tour from the front door of this marvelous boutique luxury hotel.
The Parisian look and feel of the two-story lobby was our first clue we were in an exceptional hotel. In addition to creating a chic, upscale ambience, the lobby was a warm and welcoming gathering place where guests felt comfortable getting acquainted by the fire or sipping a glass of wine during the 5:00 pm wine reception. The staff manages a relaxed-yet-eager-to- anticipate-our-needs attitude that is quite remarkable.
When we arrived at our suite, there was one pleasant surprise after another. It was as though first they identified our expectations, then topped them and then added some surprising flair. For example, terry robes were provided. But these were not your ordinary terry robes—one was leopard print and one zebra. Some very cute women’s pajamas and slipper socks were also available (for purchase). We even had two wide screen HD television sets with cable access and on-demand movies—one in the living room and one in the bedroom—350 thread count Frette linens, a CD player, fully-stocked honor bar with gourmet options, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, in-room safe, and L'Occitane bath amenities.
In fact, there were so many in-room services, you could remain here for your entire stay. For starters, there’s the “In-Room Mind. Body. Spa” channel offering yoga, Pilates, meditation and core strengthening. You can also order an in-room massage in addition to or instead of the 2-person deep whirlpool spa. Or visit the fully-equipped, free on-site fitness room with treadmills, stationary bike, elliptical machines and free weights; open 24 hours.
If you’re on a business trip and need to get some work done, bring your laptop—there’s free WiFi in the room. And if you just need to print something, the Business Center—including Macs and PCs--can surely accommodate you for a fee. Each morning, The New York Times is delivered, so you can stay on top of “all the news that’s fit to print.”
Bring that special someone—your pet!—with you and they’ll get special treatment, too. Dogs receive a doggy bed and bowl and a welcome treat at check-in Kitties receive a bowl, a disposable litter box and a special kitty treat at check-in. Plus, they have a chance to have their picture taken for the hotel's exclusive pet register, making pets members of a special family of pet friends. Since we traveled without a pet, we appreciated Guppy Love, a complimentary goldfish delivered to keep us company during our stay. The staff feeds and takes care of the goldfish - all we needed to do was name our fish and enjoy her.
For breakfast, the adjoining South Water Kitchen 's inviting atmosphere neatly complements the elegant Hotel Monaco Chicago's decor. Boasting a strictly “heartland” cuisine, it serves all-American food locally grown. The restaurant’s commitment to Midwest flavor even extends to its beers—all craft beers from around here.
Last but not least was nightly turn down service. In addition to turning down our bed and leaving chocolates on the pillows, the staff tuned our TV to an especially tranquil station so when we walked in, our room was sweet-dream-ready.
Our stay could not have been better and I’d love to go back. Maybe next time we’ll bring our cat—she’d love to look out those meditation stations and maybe at the gold fish!
Photos courtesy of Hotel Monaco Chicago
The HOTEL MONACO CHICAGO, 225 North Wabash, Chicago, IL 60601. Reservations 866.610.0081, Hotel 312.960.8500, Fax 312.960.1883. www. monaco- chicago.com.