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Hotels & Hot Spots in Downtown Chicago and the Loop

panoramic shot of Chicago and its skyscrapers

So you’ve booked your architecture tour of Chicago and are now looking for the ideal places to enjoy and stay nearby. We’ve got you covered. Here we explore the best hot spots and hotels in downtown Chicago and the South and West Loops from bars, restaurants and museums to some of the best hotels.

Downtown Hot Spots & Hotels

As you would expect, downtown Chicago is brimming with hotels and hot spots, but we’ve managed to whittle it down to a select few that we recommend.

The Buckingham Hotel is just a ten-minute walk to our dock, also making it the closest. The spacious rooms are on the 40th floor of the building meaning you get stunning, panoramic views of Chicago. It is a six minute walk to the Willis Tower and is also close to many other famous landmarks. The rooms are comfortable and the hotel itself offers an indoor pool, restaurant and a cocktail lounge.

Just across from Millenium Park is The Chicago Athletic Association. With its 1893 Venetian Gothic architecture, it was, for over 120 years, reserved for the elite and privileged in society. Nowadays everybody is welcome at this hotel and it offers all modern-day amenities and acts as an ideal launch point to explore many of the famous landmarks of the Windy City. On location you can also find The Game Room which is a perfect place for a fun date night with its range of games including pool, billiards, shuffleboard as well as tables for chess and checkers – just be sure to compete in the right spirit!

Another hotel close to our downtown dock includes the luxurious 4-star JW Marriott Chicago that has an on-site spa and indoor lap pool. After you have finished your swim you can dine in the delicious restaurant and treat yourself to a specialty cocktail or two. The closest hotel on the west side of the river to our dock is Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago-Downtown. It is a great option for families as children 18 and under stay for free when sharing their parents’ room while up to four kids ages 11 and under eat free any time of the day.

Another hotel in the area that can be found in the heart of downtown and straddles the top edge of the South Loop is The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center. The Congress is an old famous hotel that overlooks Grant Park that many of the rich and famous have stayed in over the years. So with that in mind, you expect real luxury in some of the rooms and suites with views of Lake Michigan, and marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs.

South Loop Hot Spots & Hotels

The South Loop is home to Chicago’s Museum Campus making it one of the most visited and well-known areas of the city. Hot spots and hotels are therefore not hard to find in this zone with the most popular all situated in front of Grant Park. There is also easy access to the Lakefront Trail.

Hilton Chicago has sleek and fresh-looking rooms where you can enjoy free use of the indoor pool, wi-fi and fitness center with Peloton bikes. Nearby, in the beautiful 1910 beaux-arts building, you can find The Blackstone, Autograph Collection. This now-modern facility boasts marble bath facilities, customized La Bottega amenities, modern decor, high-speed Wi-Fi, plush bedding and in-room dining.

Hot spots aplenty in the South Loop with the Adler Planetarium being a must-see for many especially for those who love astronomy. For families, the Shedd Aquarium is a great place to learn more about aquatic life and see some beautiful marine animals up close. Meanwhile, the Field Museum is a natural history museum that houses millions of artifacts and diverse, high-quality permanent exhibitions.

If it is a fancy restaurant you’re looking for then you shouldn’t look much further than the world-famous Acadia. If you are heading there on a whim then you can indulge yourself with a gourmet burger or freshly-shucked oysters from their a la carte menu. If you book in advance, you can choose from a five-course or even nine-course meal at this Michelin-starred restaurant.

If you’re looking for a more casual setting and somewhere to satisfy your (or somebody else’s) sweet tooth, then look no further than Chicago Waffles. It is an ideal place for breakfast or brunch for all the family and there are plenty of savory and spicy waffles to choose from as well as luxuriously sweet ones. If it is a burger and a drink you are after then the South Loop Club is a popular choice, it is also one of the most well-known sports bars in this sports-mad city.

West Loop Hot Spots & Hotels

Once an industrial area, Chicago’s West Loop now has some of the hippest and happening hot spots in the country. Foodies will especially enjoy the range of restaurants in the area with Roister being a standout choice for many with its casual, trendy feel combined with high-quality cuisine in an open kitchen setting. The menu offers food to share and indulge in.

Another hot spot restaurant in the West Loop that may tickle your taste buds is The Girl and the Goat which offers a family-style menu of tasty, global and bold flavors within a fun and lively setting. It is located in the Randolph Restaurant Corridor which has become one of the city’s most popular dining destinations in the past decade. Meanwhile, if you are looking for a bar in the area, then Bar Siena is perfect for pretty much any kind of night out with friends with its vibrant atmosphere. It also offers tasty pizza and pasta dishes.

If you want a place to stay in the West Loop then the Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown West Loop sits, as the name suggests, on the edge of the divide of downtown and the West Loop making it an ideal place to stay if you want to explore many of the options mentioned above. This Hampton Inn has an outdoor terrace, fitness center, and indoor saltwater pool with hot breakfast served daily included in the price along with Wi-Fi access. The Crowne Plaza Chicago West Loop is another option in the area and has quality dining and fitness and wellness facilities.

However you decide to spend your time in the Windy City, look to check out at least one of the hot spots listed above and be sure to find 90 minutes to take advantage of our architecture tour of the city.

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