Eclectic, $ (From $109)
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Or, put another way, welcome to the neighborhood. The vibe is local throughout Hotel Lincoln, which shows off Chicago's wild side with colorful and eclectic rooms designed with vintage decor and mismatched animal prints — a nod to the 1,100 species at the nearby Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in America. Yes, of course the hotel is also pet-friendly.
Set in an historical 1920s brick building, the hotel lobby's sky-high gallery wall is filled with more than 200 vintage art pieces collected throughout the Midwest, and guest rooms feature student artwork from Marwen, an organization providing free visual art classes to empower underserved children in Chicago. The hotel takes advantage of its prime location in the most desirable zip code in town most notably at J. Parker, the indoor/outdoor rooftop bar that has a bird's-eye view of Chicago's skyline, North Avenue Beach, and Lake Michigan. On the ground floor, the chic Kennison restaurant and bar has outdoor seating and views of the park, while Elaine's Coffee Call offers the buzz needed for a packed day exploring the Windy City's downtown.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Staying in the home of a globe-trotting, design-savvy friend who loves to entertain.
Standout Detail: The front desk is built from more than 30 vintage dresser drawers sourced from antique shops throughout the Midwest.
This Place Is Perfect For: Travelers exploring the Windy City for the first time who want to feel like a local in a central location.
Rooms: Playfulness takes centerstage in the 184 eclectic guest rooms and suites filled with bright colors, chevron carpets, faux crocodile trunk nightstands, and industrial-style chairs. The family suite includes camp-style bunkbeds. Sixty percent of the rooms and suites overlook Lake Michigan and the pristine Lincoln Park neighborhood. The bath products are Jonathan Adler bath products and the WiFi is free.
On Site: The 24/7 fitness room is simple, with the essential cardio machines and weights, but if you need a more boutique workout with people watching of Lincoln Park's finest, the hotel offers a daily access pass to Equinox for $25/day. Two indoor meeting rooms and an outdoor roof deck accommodate large parties or events. Complimentary bike rentals are available for exploring the lakefront and downtown area.
Food + Drink: Indoor/outdoor J. Parker Rooftop Bar offers a handcrafted cocktail menu inspired by global destinations (Alcatraz, North of Patagonia, Club Medellin) and looks out onto unobstructed views of downtown Chicago and North Avenue Beach. Weather permitting, there's no better place to cheers to a day well spent or plan the next adventure. On the lobby level, The Kennison restaurant serves American classics and farm-to-table fare with outdoor patio seating. European-style coffeeshop Elaine's Coffee Call references the building's past life as the Lincoln Hotel and is an homage to the famous former hotel operator, Elaine, who would call the hotel's resident guest David Mamet — yes, the Pulitzer Prize winner — every night to offer him his evening coffee or tea. Today, the intimate coffee bar serves espresso and to-go sandwiches and pastries. (Sorry, no VIP room service requests.) And despite the global and Euro overtones, the food and drink outlets keep it neighborhood-y by sourcing from local vendors when they can.
What to Do Nearby
Sitting along Lake Michigan, the hotel's prime location in the Lincoln Park and North Avenue Beach neighborhoods makes for a great base for exploring downtown. When weather permits, walk along the big sandy beach or head to Lincoln Park Zoo or Lincoln Park Conservatory, an historical greenhouse atrium filled with thousands of tropical plants and seasonal flowers.
If you're a baseball fan, a visit to Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs is a must. After hitting Chicago's best attractions, stay around the neighborhood for live music at the numerous blues clubs and leading rock venues like Lincoln Hall or Park West, a venue dating back to the 1920s and a highlight of Chicago's entertainment scene. Lovers of great farmers markets in town between May and September will want to visit Green City Market, which legendary chef Alice Waters deemed "best sustainable green market in the country."