From hipster to high end, the 10 Chicago hotels to check into

Chicago is a-whirl with a burst of fresh hotels, from hipster to high-end, that have been springing up across The Windy City from the Gold Coast all the way to Wicker Park. Take a look at our pick of the best Chicago hotels to check into right now.

Guestroom at Hotel EMC2, Chicago, USA
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Hotel EMC2
The scientific equation for a unique hotel-stay has been solved by the 195-room Hotel EMC2 located in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which blends comfort with some quirks such as a cute robot delivering room service. Unconventionally inspired by Albert Einstein, bedrooms designed by Greg Keffer of the Rockwell Group mix up fruity combinations of rose gold fixtures, gramophone inspired speakers and calming blue clouds of colour. Part of the Marriott Autograph family, the 21-storey building designed by Chicago-based architect Jackie Koo fronts epic views across the Chicago skyline and at ground level hosts a double-height restaurant, the Albert, which has an ebullient open kitchen and a cosy mezzanine space for working and relaxing.

228 E Ontario St; tel: 1.312 915 0000;

Ace Hotel Chicago
In the speedily developing Fulton market area – an industrial meat-packing district in Chicago – the seven-storey Ace stretches across three blocks housing 159 rooms. The wide lobby space, which encourages co-working with its assortment of informal spaces, is decorated with American craft pieces and work by emerging contemporary designers commissioned from the local Volume gallery such as hanging textiles by Christy Matson or design work by Sun Jang, a long-time Ace collaborator. From the ground floor gallery space to the fifth floor terrace and sculpture garden, and up again to the seventh floor rooftop bar, there is a focus on social activity and public events.

311 N Morgan St; tel: 1.312 764 1919;

Guestroom at Ace Hotel Chicago, Chicago, USA

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The Robey
This towering hipster haunt is a social hangout ideal for exploring Chicago’s finest neighbourhood lifestyle. The only high-rise for miles with views from Wicker Park to the Chicago skyline, the 12-storey art deco building was designed by Perkins, Chatten, & Hammond in 1929, and has now been renovated into a 69-room Grupo Habitas hotel. Interiors by Marc Merckx and Nicolas Schuybroek Architects bring softness, jewel colours and warm natural wood paneling to the stripped back concrete walls, smooth terazzo floors and architecturally unique outdoor spaces. The Robey shares a cool-blue triangular dipping pool with its sister property The Robey Hall.

2018 W North Ave; tel: 1.872 315 3050;

The Robey, Chicago, USA

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The Robey Hall
Next door to The Robey, there’s a lower key Grupo Habitas outpost called The Robey Hall, positioned in the market as a hostel, it brings the same brand of cool to a lower-budget yet equally design-conscious crowd. Exposed interior materials of steel and birchwood and polished concrete floors trace the hostel’s identity back to its industrial beginning as a fireproof furniture warehouse built in 1905. With 20 mixed rooms from private to dorm sized and a communal bar and social space, the hostel is a social spot ideal for groups and community-minded visitors. Complimentary tokyobikes are available for all guests to hire out for a neighbourhood cruise.

2022 W North Ave; tel: 1 872 315 3080;

The lobby at The Robey Hall, Chicago, USA

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Chicago Athletic Association
On entering the grand Venetian Gothic-style Chicago Athletic Hotel, one steps back in time to the traditional members club that first opened in 1893. Full of original craftsmanship such as carved wooden panels, the hotel has been designed to reflect its origins. From leather lined booths and archival photographs in the ‘Cherry circle’ dining space to the vintage furnishings in the impressive vaulted glass and steel rooftop atrium at Cindy’s, the rooftop restaurant – nostalgia is never far away. Located on Michigan Avenue, this hotel is a stone’s throw from the Chicago Loop and Millennium Park.

2 Michigan Avenue; tel: 1 312-940-3552;

Serving space at Chicago Athletic Association, Chicago, USA

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The Viceroy Hotel
At street level, the terracotta and masonry architecture of the Viceroy blends with the traditional Chicago vernacular, yet look up, and you’ll see a soaring 18-storey glass tower designed by Goettsch Partners – fitted out with an outdoor pool and rooftop cocktail lounge. Exemplarily of Chicago’s contemporary hotel boom, its also maintains the essential character of the city. The modern interior design, which features plenty of white marble, a 30 ft art wall and elegant brass light fixtures, is fitted out by connoisseurs of the hospitality industry TAL Studio.

1118 N State St; tel: 1.312 586 2000;

Guestroom at The Viceroy Hotel, Chicago, USA

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Ambassador Chicago
The Ambassador Chicago is a smooth operator in the quiet Gold Coast area, a neighbourhood of tree-lined avenues and elegant mansions in proximity to Lake Michigan. The hotel stakes its claim as the city’s original boutique hotel, first opening in 1926 and garnering a reputation as a locus for Chicago’s Jazz Age and celebrity clientele. With 285 rooms named after icons such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, the hotel design pays close attention to art deco-inspired details, from the original crown mouldings to the ornate wrought iron-work and glass doorknobs. While celebrating its history, the palette of minimal and neutral-coloured furniture, brings the hotel up to date, along with the additional offerings of a 24-hour gym and two restaurants.

1301 N State Pkwy; tel: 1.312 787 3700;

Guestroom at The Freehand, Chicago, USA

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The Freehand
Feel at home at the Chicago edition of the Freehand, where lively and comfortable communal spaces are adorned with regional craft pieces, vintage furniture and patterned textiles. The colourful, cool interiors designed by Roman and Williams celebrate the Midwestern spirit and create a lived-in atmosphere for weary travelers in search of a homespun hang out. Settle in for an evening at the in-house craft cocktail bar, the Broken Shaker, then wake up for your morning artisanal coffee at the Freehand’s own Café Integral. With shared and private rooms, the Freehand’s restored 1920s building is located in the downtown River North neighbourhood, in proximity to the buzz of the city and a short walk to the Chicago Riverwalk.

19 E Ohio St; tel: 1.312 940 3699;

Guestroom at The Freehand, Chicago, USA

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The Kimpton Gray
Just take one step into the Kimpton Gray’s lobby to have a look at the ornate ‘Georgia Gray’ marble interiors that gave the hotel its name. The ornate stonework is certainly showstopping. Located within the historic New York Life Insurance Building – which dates back to 1894 – this hotel is a little piece of Chicago’s grand architectural history. Found in the Financial District amongst the skyscrapers, the hotel is primed for after-hours activity. Go for pre-theatre champagne and caviar at the Kimpton Gray’s lobby bar, Vol. 39 or take the elevator up to Boleo, the hotel’s bar and lounge (with a retractable roof) for a view across the city.

122 W Monroe St; tel: 1.312 750 9012;

Lounge space at The Kimpton Gray, Chicago, USA

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The Thompson
Offering up loft-style living in the leafy up-scale Gold Coast neighbourhood, The Thompson’s sought after floor-to-ceiling windows cast views down Michigan Avenue and across the Magnificent Mile. British designer Tara Bernerd brought some warmth to the industrial interiors with dark American wood panels and rich velvety mid-century modern-style furniture pieces. With structured booths, exposed brick and high-ceilings the fine dining restaurant by Nico Osteria, which serves up modern Italian seafood dishes designed by Chef Wu-Bower, is a downtown hit with the locals, a good sign to guests looking for good food and atmosphere.

21 E Bellevue Pl; tel: 1.312 266 2100;

Lounge space at The Thompson, Chicago, USA

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Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.