Photo courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower
Trump International Hotel & Tower
Bigwigs and sports stars own the highest condo aeries in this swaggering riverfront tower dominating the Chicago skyline. But the hotel component of the Trump International Hotel & Tower, drawing celebrity clients (Black-Eyed Peas recently stayed here), houses the building’s real standout: Sixteen, a two-Michelin-star restaurant with 30-foot windows, four- to nine-course tasting menus, and a $750 “Master” wine flight. Hotel guests, who can summon a 24-hour Trump Attaché (read: butler), stay in the tower’s first 28 floors. Rooms are sumptuous, and categories range from 600-square-foot studios with custom-stocked kitchens to vast three-bedroom apartments with living room, fireplace, and curving windows that accentuate the panorama of Lake Michigan and "starchitect" towers lining the Chicago River. (Travelers with vertigo can book a lower-floor spa guestroom that makes up for the lack of view with direct spa access and decadent amenities such as heated eye and neck pillows and twin deep-soaking tubs in the limestone-finished bathrooms.) All rooms offer a “water library”—not plasticized books and magazines for the baths, as one might think, but rather a selection of international bottled waters from as far afield as Tasmania.
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It’s a short walk through the Wrigley Building passageway to the Michigan Avenue shopping district, whose southern end is dominated by early 20th-century monumental skyscrapers (Tribune Tower) and retail chains such as Forever 21 and Gap. The lower hotel promenade leads directly onto a walkway along the Chicago River and the docks for river taxis and boat architecture tours. After recovering from a blowout meal at Sixteen, consider the River North dining district, which offers plenty more belt-busting meals. Bohemian House (11 W. Illinois St.) has a speakeasy vibe and updated Czech, German, and Austrian fare. In a neighborhood known for big steaks and shoulders, RPM Steakhouse (66 W. Kinzie St.) recently hosted President Obama for a fundraiser.
Need to Know
Rooms: 339 rooms; from $316. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:Sixteen is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Chef Thomas Lents, who once worked for Joel Robuchon, serves seasonal tasting menus punctuated with unannounced gifts and kitchen surprises; a simple “snack” might be a pig-ear crisp with chicken liver, fresh huckleberries, dried corn ricotta and pumpkin brick. Rebar, on the mezzanine level facing the river, is a cozy space for a post-shopping artisanal cocktail or modern American small plate. Spa and gym details: The 23,000-square-foot Trump Spa and health club has 12 rooms for treatments involving gemstone-infused oils, a state-of-the-art workout room, and a 25-yard lap pool. Instead of clocking miles on a treadmill, runners new to the city can join the hotel’s guided outdoor loop along the river and lakefront.
Who’s it for: Although the location is convenient for conducting business, this hotel is catnip for leisure travelers who love architecture and pampering. Our favorite rooms: The most dramatic views come from the Executive and Grande Deluxe suites looking east to where the Chicago River empties into Lake Michigan. Spa suites on floors 14 and 15 have good south-facing city views of the Loop and business district. Plan ahead: When booking the popular Sunday brunch at Sixteen (which is a must), specify a Wrigley Building–view table. Allot extra time for hotel check-out, as the reception desk is surprisingly small and congested, given its location in North America’s second-tallest building (but the world’s tallest within an all-concrete structure, The Donald likes to remind everyone).