Chicago Athletic Association
What We Love
- Jetsetter 2015 Best of the Best Finalist: Best Comeback
- Legendary designers Roman and Williams are behind the 2015 multimillion-dollar renovation of this 1893 landmark building
- The firepits at rooftop bar Cindy's are the spot for outdoor imbibing with a greenhouse-style bar serving up the cocktails; views are of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan
- A back door that opens up to the heart of The Loop—and a front door that welcomes the best of Chicago culture
- The outpost of famous burger joint Shake Shack and the Game Room, which will serve up classic cocktails and a playful menu of concession favorites
- The 241 guest rooms and suites have touches of the hotel's athletic club past (think pommel horse-inspired benches)
- Read more: Chicago's Latest Design Digs
What To Know
- Free WiFi
- Docent-led tours of the iconic building are scheduled regularly in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation
- The Game Room has bocce ball, billiards and chess
- Get a reservation for the Cherry Circle Room restaurant from the team behind perennial Chi-town favorite Longman & Eagle
- Expect to jockey with locals for seats at the bar and restaurants as this is one of Chicago’s hottest new spots
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
In the thumping heart of Chicago’s Cultural Mile is a hotel that’s as much a social hub as a place to sleep. That makes sense as the 1893 building once housed a legendary athletic/social club. The original Tarzan (and five-time Olympic gold medalist) Johnny Weissmuller once swam here and Muddy Waters sang in the supper club. Now instead of boxing or lifting weights, Chicago’s pretty people will be gathered around the firepits at rooftop bar Cindy’s, closing deals in the supper club and sipping classic cocktails with a playful menu of concession favorites in the game room. With 241 rooms by renowned designers Roman & Williams (of New York’s Ace and The Standard fame), the upstairs is as vibrant as the downstairs with nods to the building’s past in the form of pommel horse-inspired benches and storage racks that echo a wooden gym ladder. Other vintage details include replicas of retro furniture, brass-accented bedframes, striped wool blankets and deep leather club chairs. The bathrooms are luxurious, with soaking tubs, and gleaming black-and-white tile and marble counters. At Stagg Court, the hotel’s newly restored gymnasium, you can shoot some hoops, but if you’re looking for a stiff drink, mixologist Paul McGee oversees the inventive cocktail lists in the lobby, the Game Room and the fine-dining Cherry Circle Room.
In the Area
Set across the street from Millennium Park and all the diversions of Chicago’s best parks, the hotel has a location that rivals none. Art institutions like the Chicago Institute of Art, colleges (DePauw, Northwestern Law), and architectural monuments line up along the front entrance to the Chicago Athletic Association. Out the back door, guest are smack in the middle of the financial district, a.k.a. The Loop. Grab a coveted picnic table to sup on Southern fare at funky Parson’s, try to score a reservation at Stephanie Izard’s James Beard award-winning Girl & the Goat and splurge on the Michelin-starred fare at Alinea. Don’t miss the laughs at the world famous Second City, where such luminaries as Dan Aykroyd, Steve Carell and Tina Fey have performed. For a nightcap, head to Three Dots and Dash, a kitschy-fun tiki cocktail bar.
How to Get There
My wife and I had a Saturday event in the city during the afternoon and we decided instead of high tailing it out of the city afterward, to stay and have an enjoyable Saturday Chicago evening before heading home to possible snow on Sunday.
We arrived around noon for our event, parked our car with ParkWhiz at a nearby parking garage, and walked to the hotel. It is in a beautiful, old building on South Michigan avenue across from Millenium Park and near the Art Institute. We thought we would have to park our overnight baggage but we were able to check in. At the desk, we inquired about Cindy’s Restaurant, which is on the top floor of the building with a view of the city. It is quite the popular place (a James Beard award nominee) and my wife had unsuccessfuly tried to get reservations. The hotel desk was unable to get through to them so they suggested we just go up, check it out, and ask. We did. I mentioned that it was my wife’s birthday (as it is tomorrow) and they gave us a 7:30 PM reservation. We are excited about that.
The room is small but well appointed. The feel is of an old athletic club, which it is, and my hotel key card sports Johnny Weissmuller on it. The bench at the end of the bed is in the shape of a pommel horse. The shower has a control on the other side of the shower area, so you can turn it on, select your temperature, and hop in without submitting to an unpleasant water temperature.
The vibe is strong here, there are lots of people in the common areas and there is noise, but a good noise of people who are happy. There is a game room with a very cool bar. Mosaics and wood are everywhere. The restaurant on the top floor is beautiful and with a great view.
I am playing a personal playlist on the wonderful device next to the bed. This is one, pleasant place.
We love it! Despite all the happy commotion in common areas, our room is quiet and relaxing. Do we really have to leave after one night?
A great venue for a nice night in Chicago!
Overall the hotel is in great location. The place has a cool history and the architectural details are marvelous. Food and service was good. The common areas including the large game room have a great vibe. The one drawback is that the equipment in the fitness room was quite bad. Much of the equipment was simply cheap brand quality and a number of pieces of equipment were broken. Not a good thing to have a bad fitness experience given the history of the hotel.
Overall experience at this hotel was wonderful. The Game Room was so much fun. Food and drinks were excellent, The style was upscale-campy and very sophisticated but comfy at the same time. The sheets and towels were so soft that I looked up the brand to buy them at home.
Awesome place, feels exclusive, but somewhat to a fault.
Everything is worth experiencing, just be ready for the bars to be packed.
Despite the large crowd it never felt clubby or anything of that sort.
The price is high, so be prepared to bring your wallet, but there are no regrets. Food, drink, and atmosphere are wonderful.
Only issue, and I'm curious if this was just a mishap, is our room would not allow us to make it cooler than 70.
Despite putting the air conditioning lower than that it made it a little balmy at night to deal with. Otherwise I could not recommend the place more.
Great hotel for a great night sleep and accommodations! Would recommend to anyone staying in the area, the game room, service, bar, hotel rooms and lobby were more than inviting and accommodating for anything you may be looking for.