By Ali Webb
Since its opening in 2001, The Peninsula Chicago has regularly ranked as one of the top luxury hotels in a city that knows hospitality. The mothership of the 10 Peninsula hotel line – the Hong Kong Peninsula – opened in December 1928 with the vision of “unsurpassed luxury and warmth.”
The Peninsula Hotel Group has had eight decades to get it right, and their Chicago property fulfils their vision. The hotel is located one block off the city’s ‘Magnificent Mile’, a wonderful shopping, dining and cultural district, and is and just a block from the historic Water Tower.
Walking into the hotel feels anticlimactic, since guests go to the second floor to check-in. At the end of a hallway, the two-story tearoom and restaurant opens up on the right, check-in is on the left, and the concierge is straight ahead. Dramatic flower arrangements punctuate the understated décor. A superior room, done in pale, yet warm beiges and gold tones, met all of an indulgent traveler’s check-offs. Great bed – check. Marble bathroom with separate shower and tub – check. Great Jacuzzi – check, check.
Seriously, this was a very nice tub with room for two. And while bathing, you can watch the inset TV on the wall at the foot of the tub. This is the height of indulgence – a bubble bath and your favorite show.
Time for Tea at The Peninsula Chicago
Teatime at The Peninsula Chicago is at 4pm, and an upgrade to the usual fare, the Royal Tea comes with a glass of champagne, caviar, and extra savories and sweets. Since they didn’t have the champagne that was advertised, the waiter kindly provided an entire bottle of a very nice French bubbly.
For tea, the soaring two-story dining room was filled with tables of guests from two to eight people, all drinking tea and other beverages in a most civilized manner. And what a selection of morsels: plain scones, cinnamon orange scones, lemon cornmeal savarin, coconut passion fruit cookies, rose hip shortbread, orange curd tarts, key lime and graham chiboust, chocolate caramel mousse cake, curried chicken salad, spice-scented crepes, grilled vegetables, lemon caper hummus, black olive tapenade, smoked salmon, citrus dill cream cheese, pan de mie, roasted cauliflower, gruyere cheese, and a lovely bottomless cup of jasmine tea.
Now it was time for a massage in the Peninsula Spa by ESPA on the 7th floor. As an alternative, guests can choose the very nicely outfitted gym with an indoor pool and hot tub on the same floor as the gym. The locker rooms include both wet and dry saunas.
With such a large teatime meal, a drink and appetizer seemed like the right evening choice, rather than having a full meal at either of the hotel’s well-respected restaurants, Avenues and the Shanghai Terrace. The Bar is a cozy wood paneled room with a nice fireplace, which is especially nice when the wind and snow blow outside.
On the first floor of the hotel is another charming restaurant, Pierrott Gourmet. It was billed as a European-style café with selections ranging from very unique sandwiches, soups, and pizzas, to a few more complete entrées. Breakfast is a particularly terrific choice at the café. If you’re thirsty, the wine list offers a selection of wines by the glass, flights, and tastings in the afternoon. For a more casual eating option, Pierrott Gourmet is a nice addition to the Peninsula experience.
Whatever your reason for visiting Chicago, a little of the Peninsula glow surrounds guests as they venture out to see more of the Windy City.
To learn more, visit The Peninsula Hotel Chicago’s website at http://chicago.peninsula.com/
Contributor Ali Webb took her first airplane trip when she was six weeks old and has been traveling ever since. Born and raised in California, she now lives in the middle of the US and is frequently published as The Indulgent Traveler. Check out her travels at her website, www.indulgenttraveler.com.