For lovers of fine art, there's nothing quite like visiting an art gallery. Unless you're staying in one, of course.
Chicago's venerable hotels are home to some of the finest art collections in the city. Here, we'll tell you about just four of the many. Go ahead. Immerse yourself in art.
636 S Michigan Ave
If you've ever wondered what it was like to live in Chicago during the Gilded Age, step into the stunning Beaux Arts lobby of the Blackstone. Best known for hosting 12 US Presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter, the hotel was built in 1909 at a cost of $1.5 million ($38 million today) and named after Timothy Blackstone, a Chicago politician, railroad executive, and founding president of the Union Stockyards. From the Suite of Presidents, where President Kennedy was informed of the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the former Mayfair Room, where Dizzy Gillespie, Jay McShann and Johnny Griffin once filled the air with all that jazz, 20th century history has unfolded time and time again in this uber elegant hotel. Adding to that elegance, the Blackstone has amassed more than 1,600 contemporary works of art, transforming it into a veritable "museum-in-a-hotel."
“One of the many things unique to The Blackstone is that it was built in 1910 with the support of the artistic community in mind," explains General Manager Kim Corrigan. "Its lavish, dedicated Art Hall is a work of art in itself and provides a historic landscape for local artists to display in its rotating art exhibit. In addition to the Art Hall, The Blackstone provides other amazing settings for guests to experience art, from individual works on each elevator landing to custom art in the guest rooms, and a graffiti mural in the fitness center, allowing them to view the hotel’s epic history through a contemporary lens.”
Start your in-hotel art tour with a cocktail at Timothy’s Hutch, the sleek lobby lounge, where you'll encounter Painter by artist Celeste Rapone, who is also a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. You're welcome to view all 21 art-filled floors, cocktail in hand and at your leisure. Make sure you check out the hotel's former barbershop, once frequented by none other than Al Capone, and the exquisite Crystal Ballroom, site of Lucky Luciano's infamous National Crime Syndicate meeting.
55 E Ontario St
The 297-room luxury James Hotel is located just steps from the Magnificent Mile, at Rush and Ontario Streets. In addition to offering luxe amenities, including an in-room wellness program, 24-hour concierge services and a complimentary mezzanine office/workspace, this boutique hotel also boasts an incredible collection of artwork from a mix of local and international artists, both prominent and up-and-coming.
The hotel has paired with the prestigious Wicker Park-based Monique Meloche Gallery to present a rotating art space on the hotel’s second floor. All the artists featured here were educated or worked in Chicago, with a focus on emerging talent.
The James Chicago also has collaborated with curator Anna Cerniglia, founder and creative director of Johalla Projects, to commission Chicago-based artist Stephen Eichhorn to create part two of the #jamespublicart initiative: Eichhorn's installation features a single original artwork that explores the microcosms of botany, enlarged and divided between the two exterior frames on the hotel's east-facing sidewalk
1 E Walton St
Besides being ranked by US News as one of the Best Hotels in the USA for 2017, Chicago's very own Waldorf Astoria is slowly morphing into a fashionable art space. Contemporary art from around the world is on display throughout the lobby and beyond, creating a more museum-like hotel experience.
From a beautiful tiled mosaic hidden at the bottom of the swimming pool to Marilyn Pappas' stunning tapestry, “Victory and the Life of Beauty”, art abounds in every corner at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago.
Nestled in the heart of Chicago’s stylish Gold Coast, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago offers all the chic comforts you crave, perfectly paired with indulgent offerings. In the mood for more art? Call the concierge and request that the private, complimentary Mercedes-Benz house car whisk you to the Art Institute of Chicago, a short distance away.
228 E. Ontario St,
Hotel EMC2 melds art and science for a truly singular experience in Chicago. The entire 195-room hotel, which is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, is designed with the theory of relativity in mind. And perhaps best of all, it is highly interactive. Crank the handle on a 19th-century zoetrope machine in the lobby; order a drink at the hotel bar and it will be prepared not unlike a high school chemistry class demonstration; make your way to the elevators, where digital art is displayed on monitors; double check your room number with a backlit magnifying glass, and drop your smartphone into the groovy, Steampunk-styled metallic amplifier. Need a replacement toothbrush or a copy of today's newspaper? Leo and Cleo, the hotel's two working robots, will deliver them directly to your room.
"Every detail at Hotel EMC2 ...... the art, the science, the design, the service, the food, the shapes and discoveries, delight and elicit inner whimsy and a sense of wonder," says Scott Greenberg, president and CEO of SMASHotels. "As such, the Hotel EMC2 experience changes perception, heightens mood, raises psychology, thus opening our guests to receiving gifts of cultural interaction and cultural opportunities in way that is often richer, deeper and much more long lasting."