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The 6 Best New Hotels in Chicago

By Elaine Glusac

Dec 1, 2021

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Find fine Italian dining at the centrally located Gale Chicago.

Courtesy of Gale Chicago

Find fine Italian dining at the centrally located Gale Chicago.

Whether you’re after downtown luxe or an intro to a new neighborhood, we’ve got you covered.

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From luxurious downtown addresses to those that offer access to the city’s most colorful neighborhoods, Chicago’s new crop of hotels aims to serve the community and the environment with high sustainability standards.

Certainly, the pandemic had a brutal effect on hotels, many of which closed. But the good news is many have reopened, and if they don’t have the original owners, at least their investors are recycling these stylish properties.

The neo-Renaissance Gale Chicago just off Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile revives the former Raffaello and remains the address of intimate Pelago Ristorante, with a gem of an Italian restaurant. The Chicago Hotel Collection picked up several hotels, including the baseball-themed Wheelhouse hotel in Wrigleyville near Wrigley Field, now blandly known as the Chicago Hotel Collection Wrigleyville, which added the beach-themed bar Diver at the Park.

From luxe to local—but all with a commitment to sustainability—these are the six best new Chicago hotels that opened in 2021.

The views from the Sable Hotel are hard to beat.

Sable at Navy Pier

Book now: from $224/night, expedia.com

The 3,300-foot-long pier that juts into Lake Michigan from downtown, Navy Pier has long been the state’s most popular tourist attraction, where carnival-esque attractions and splashy Lake Michigan boat rides mingle with cultural landmarks including the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Sable, which opened last spring, gives fans a place to stay after the tour, dinner, or show with 223 nautically inspired rooms featuring panoramic views of both the lake and the skyline.

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No one would blame you for being distracted by the handsome shipshape design of the rooms, with brass accents and a marine color palette, or the sprawling 20,000-square-foot rooftop bar Offshore, but the LEED-silver certified hotel planted a secondary green roof to support birds on the Lake Michigan Flyway and recycles toiletries left behind to provide hygiene kits to impoverished communities.

Chicago's Pendry is the latest in a series of tenants in Chicago's Carbide & Carbon building.

Pendry Chicago

Book now: from $275/night, expedia.com

One of Chicago’s most recognizable skyscrapers, the 1929 Carbide & Carbon building, said to resemble a champagne bottle when it was built in the fizzy art deco days before the Depression, has seen a remarkable turnover of tenants in the last few years. But its newest incarnation, opened in May, Pendry Chicago, is its most lavish. Enjoy the trek-worthy French brasserie Venteux on the ground floor—snag one of its cozy tufted banquettes and settle in for caviar service and whole aged duck—and the intimate Chateau Carbide where rosé is the quaff of the day on the rooftop.

You’ll never want to leave the handsome rooms, which have varying layouts due to the historic building but are fittingly decorated with classic architectural photos. Pendry’s doing its part to cut down on single-use plastics by offering refillable MiN New York toiletries, plus linen-less tables at banquettes, food composting, and a seasonal herb garden in the rooftop lounge.

Don't leave the Nobu without having sampled the salmon sashimi.

Nobu Hotel Chicago

Book now: from $359/night, expedia.com

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Location meets reputation in the new Nobu Hotel Chicago, which opened earlier this year from chef Nobu Matsuhisa and partners including actor Robert De Niro in the dining-centric West Loop district. The 115-room Nobu has the chef’s signature restaurant, of course, and other take-me-to-Japan features like the oshibori hand-washing ritual on check-in to minimalist rooms (some with teak soaking tubs) and a 40-foot indoor tranquility pool.

Guests can still get their party on in the convivial restaurants, including an 11th-floor rooftop lounge, and there are loads of restaurants and bars to stumble to nearby. It gets green cred for its energy-saving heating and cooling system, LED lighting that uses 75 percent less energy, in-room motion lights, and its rooftop garden, which covers half the space.

The 21c Museum Hotel Chicago showcases the best of the city's artists.

21c Museum Hotel Chicago

Book now: from $209/night, expedia.com 

The art-filled 21c Museum Hotel Chicago opened just before the pandemic, missing its opportunity to fully shine. But it’s worth your attention for the substantial investment the hotel group is making in contemporary art. Founders Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown are renowned collectors and make much of their holdings available to guests in on-site galleries that are open around the clock. Shows rotate between locations, but each individual hotel has art programming that engages the local community.

Here, the 297-room hotel—adaptively reused from the former James hotel—commissioned Chicago-based artist Nick Cave and his partner Bob Faust to design nine distinct wallpaper patterns hung in the elevator lobbies on floors 2 to 17 (we suggest pulling an Elf and hitting all the buttons).

Lincoln Park's Neighborhood Hotel features just 14 homely suites.

The Neighborhood Hotel

Book now: from $240/night, theneighborhoodhotel.com

Chicago has 77 official neighborhoods and visiting at least a few is vital to knowing the city, but Airbnb is usually the alternative for staying in one, often, critics complain, driving up rents for locals. Opened in summer 2021, the Neighborhood Hotel offers guests a chance to stay in Lincoln Park, one of the most vibrant North Side neighborhoods, about five miles north of the downtown Loop, without entering into that debate.

The 1893 German Renaissance–inspired building with limestone cladding and bay windows houses 14 residential style suites with well-stocked kitchens and often multiple bedrooms. Locally owned shops and restaurants are nearby, as are the 18-mile Lakefront recreational path and the free Lincoln Park Zoo.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Chicago Chinatown

Book now: from $169/night, expedia.com

While many Chinatowns around the country are being gentrified, Chicago’s Chinatown, on the South Side, about three train stops from the Loop, is growing. Asian American residents grew 31 percent in the last census, which attests to the vibrancy of Chinatown, a bustling neighborhood of restaurants, shops, and Chinese groceries marked by the landmark Chinatown Gateway.

With the new SpringHill Suites by Marriott Chicago Chinatown, the neighborhood gets its first branded hotel, where suites have separate areas to sleep, work, and relax; breakfast is included in the rates. The hotel is near the Chicago Red Line L, which is convenient for getting around, including heading to the White Sox baseball stadium a few stops south.

>> Next: AFAR’s Chicago Travel Guide

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