Photos Copyright, 2015, Lee Balgemann
In Chicago you can experience Asian graciousness combined with Midwestern hospitality and lagniappe, a little bit more, at The Peninsula Chicago. The hotel has a prime location on the Magnificent Mile and offers an extravaganza of amenities, surprises, and a comfortable ambiance that encourages you to be you whatever mood you are in.
You can dress to impress or you can feel at ease in what you wore on the plane because your luggage went on vacation to Kathmandu. Nothing is off limits at the Peninsula except indecency, and it is not a place indecent people gather. If you are a closet odd person, the concierge is discrete and can provide directions to off site venues such as the abandoned Brach’s candy factory, the Leather Archives and Museum, the 95th Street Bridge, Busy Beaver Button Company, and Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonalds’s.
If you are a tech fan or simply appreciate the convenience, you can have a fabulous time in your room controlling temperature, lighting, and curtains from bedside control panels, one on each side of the bed. For connoisseurs of the bath, marble bathrooms have deep soaking tubs, inset televisions, and Oscar de la Rena toiletries. Starting at 530 square feet, the guest rooms and suites are elegantly appointed and some of the largest in Chicago. Peninsula pages are one touch of a touch phone away to run errands and walk dogs.
You can eat like royalty. From classic European fare at Pierrot Gourmet to the Shanghai Terrraces’ acclaimed Chinese choices and The Lobby’s international menu, the Peninsula is one of Chicago’s most refined places to dine. If you are longing for Europe, outdoor dining at Pierrot Gourmet is like dining in Paris without a phrase book and waiters with attitudes. Head for the Shanghai Terrace for Asian Fusion with a view. All three restaurants have won important culinary awards.
You can eat in your flip flops. “No shoes, no service” is a mandatory policy to keep a restaurant hygienic, but table vases made of reimagined running shoes convey the message: by all means be yourself and enjoy your meal. You can appreciate the artistry of the centerpieces or simply feel good that your hotel takes recycling seriously. Don’t be surprised to find a selection of Asian delicacies served on a skateboard. The Peninsula is redefining “urban chic.”
You can simmer in exotic, soothing fragrances in the hushed and holistic spa. Treatments are inspired by Ayurvedic and Asian philosophies, ranging from the all-natural Hot Stone Massage with aromatic ESPA oils to spiritually uplifting Ayurvedic massages. The two story wellness center includes a half Olympic size pool and a workout room. Or you can join a party on the Shanghai Terrace.
You can expect unexpected smiles. The Peninsula guardian lions flanking the entrance and its mascot Peter Bear are loyal to Chicago teams and wear sport jerseys during playoffs. Off season, their shirts, hats, and garlands may celebrate a holiday or simply surprise you with a wisp of whimsy. The hotel’s MINI Coopers wear rabbit ears for Easter and spiders on Halloween. For a less conspicuous ride, ask for the house BMW.
Actor David Boreanaz who plays FBI Special Agent Booth in the TV drama “Bones,” said, “I like to escape to hotels…where the people are great and you are in the lap of luxury. You kind of find yourself wanting to stay once you’re in the door.” The Peninsula is his first example.