Hotel Lobbies Are Islands of Calm in the City – Here Are 3 to Enjoy in Downtown Chicago

Oma H. Barnett

One of my favorite parts of any hotel I stay at is the lobby. Naturally, I’m not talking about the counter, vinyl couch and cigarette machine in your typical interstate exit motel. Nor the slick, sterile, ultra-modern look that so many new places are going for today.

I’m talking the hotel lobbies of the boutique and 100 year old, 5 star hotels you find in the center of the city.

Even if you typically stay at the cheaper hotels – or even the hostel – you can and should check out these 3 hotel lobbies on your next trip to Chicago. That’s the great thing about hotel lobbies – you can wander in, sit a spell and enjoy the luxury, even if you have no intention of ever spending a night.

The Elysian – 605 N. Michigan Ave.

This is a glamorous throwback to the art-deco 1920’s. The stark black and white design of the entryway will take your breath away. Be sure to see the two enormous busts just inside the door – an allusion to the actual Elysian Fields, final resting place of heroes in Greek mythology.

Hotel Sax – 333 N. Dearborn St.

In the words of Chicago writer, Richard Babcock, this lobby looks like a cross between “Louis XIV and a Gothic Brothel.” With a description like that, how could you NOT want to visit?

Sure enough, there are huge throne-like chairs, crystal art-objects, period paintings – alongside crimson walls, dimly lit corners and, well, just a butch of goofiness that is hard to comprehend, much less explain.

You just have to see it to believe it.

Palmer House – 17 E. Monroe St.

This Hilton property is the absolute height of luxury. Try not to stare up at the vaulted ceilings painted with Grecian scenes by French master muralist, Louis Pierre Rigal and the Tiffany crystal chandeliers. Or, go ahead – it’s alright.

Take a see at he bar (open all day) or sip high tea at one of the tables.

Just relax and take it in. The world will wait.

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