Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection
Contempo, $$ ($199)
You don't have to be a genius to recognize that Hotel EMC2, a 195-room Autograph Collection hotel in Chicago's charming Streeterville neighborhood, is a refreshing departure from the boutique hotel norm.
Owner Scott Greenberg, a self-proclaimed science fair nerd, wanted his hotel near the Northwestern University medical campus to explore the intersection of art and science. Wood-paneled walls, midcentury furnishings, hanging filing cabinets, warm tube lighting, a polished rose gold reception desk, and digital art reference academia — with theatrical twist. Guests can crank the handle on an old-fashioned zoetrope in the lobby to create a moving picture; a library of 12,000 books — art and literature, math and science — line the walls of the hotel restaurant, The Albert (a not-so-subtle nod to the great scientist). The hotel's two service robots, Leo and Cleo, can be seen roaming the halls, delivering toothbrushes to guests in tuxedo jackets that never crease. Needless to say, the pair are a big hit.
Greenberg also sought out small Chicago organizations that aligned with his vision to build local partnerships and provide support to the neighborhood. When guests book reservations directly on the hotel website, Hotel EMC2 commits dollars to Project SYNCERE, which support youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs (i.e.: hands-on engineering exercises for high-schoolers) within underserved Chicago communities.
It seems like EMC2 has solved the equation for bringing high-tech and high-touch service to guests and the larger community.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Posh university library meets mad scientist lab.
Standout Detail: Delivering on unique design quirks in a stylish, upscale setting.
This Place Is Perfect For: Guests interested in having their curiosity stoked at every turn.
Rooms: There are 195 rooms on 21 floors, with dark wood herringbone floors, leather detailing, and dramatic deep blue drapes that reveal a peek-a-boo shower with Korres bath toiletries. Guests can drop their phone into the amplifier shaped like a brass horn, and turn on a smart television and flick on a nightlight that looks like a test tube. Digital helpers abound: Alexa is in the house, and guests can call Leo and Cleo, the hotel's two robot attendants, to deliver amenities (like STEM kits for kids) and snacks (there's a separate Bot menu).
On Site: Event spaces, a fitness center, business center, valet, and self parking.
Food + Drink: The Albert Restaurant makes an impact with soaring ceilings, a shiny copper-colored bar, and hanging glass tubes and vessels — it looks like a lab experiment in action. A large bookshelf staircase leads to an overlook. The menu is contemporary American with global flavors, and the drinks lean toward concoctions and infusions. Besides the restaurant, other imbibing options include the cocktail bar and room service, which offers the aforementioned Bot menu (milk and cookies, meats and cheeses, spiced nuts) delivered to your room by adorable robots.
Feel-Good Factor: Besides partnering with Project SYNCERE, which support youth STEM programs within underserved Chicago communities, the hotel raises money, and its employees donate time, to various community programs monthly, like PAWS, American Heart Association, and Susan G. Komen Foundation. The hotel was recognized two years in a row by IHLA as a lead community contributor.
What to Do Nearby
Why not stick to the theme and go all in on art and science? Find your way to the Museum of Contemporary Art for today's creative perspectives, the Field Museum of Natural History for natural artifacts and wonders on Chicago's iconic Lake Michigan shore, the centuries-old collection at Art Institute of Chicago, and the Gilded Age through art and architecture at Driehaus Museum. The Lakefront Trail is a sustainable way to take in the city views.