interesting mix of grand hotels, such as the F airmont, and brash ne w upstar ts, most
notably the hip triad run by the West Coast-based Kimpton Group: the Hotel Burnham,
Hotel Monaco, and Hotel Allegro. Despite their differences, all offer undeniable conve-
nience for families who prefer to be at the center of the city .
Fairmont Hotel The Fairmont is easily one of the city 's most luxurious hotels,
offering an array of deluxe amenities and services. This is the kind of place that regularly
hosts high-level politicians and CEOs (but not rock stars). The overall effect is chic but
a bit impersonal. The entrance looks out on anonymous office to wers, and you're likely
to wander the cir cular lobby a bit befor e finding the check-in desk. S till, families rav e
about the huge r ooms and bend-o ver-backwards ser vice; although families ar en't the
hotel's primary market, you will be made to feel mor e than welcome.
The large rooms are decorated in a comfortable, upscale style. (Ask for one with a lake
view, although even the city vie w rooms offer some distance fr om neighboring offices.)
The posh bathrooms feature extra large tubs, separate v anity areas, and swivel TVs. The
windows even open (a rarity in high-rise hotels), so you can enjoy the breeze drifting off
Lake Michigan. Suites have one or two bedr ooms, a living r oom, a dining ar ea, and a
built-in bar—and all come with lake vie ws. For $20 a day, guests can access Lakeshor e
Athletic Club without walking outside. The club has a pool, but unfor tunately the club
is open to children only after 2pm on Saturday and all day on Sunday. The hotel is con-
nected to the city's underground pedway system (one of my favorite activities to do with
kids), through which you can walk all the way to M acy's (formerly Marshall Field's) on
State Street on inclement days without stepping outside.
200 N. Columbus Dr. (at Lake St.), Chicago , IL 60601. & 800/526-2008 or 312/565-8000. F ax 312/856-
1032. www.fairmont.com. 692 units. $129-$389 double; $229-$539 suite. Kids 17 and under stay free in
parent's room. Rollaways $20/night; cribs fr ee. AE, DC, DISC, MC, V. Valet parking $41 with in/out privi-
leges. Subway/El: Red, Green, Orange, Brown, or Blue Line t o State/Lake. Small pets ac cepted for a $25
fee. Amenities: Restaurant; lounge; ac cess to nearby health club; business c enter; salon; 24-hr . room
service; babysitting; laundry service; 24-hr. dry cleaning. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, CD player, fax,
high-speed Internet access, minibar, hair dryer, iron.
Hard Rock Hotel Chicago The good news: This hotel is not located on top of the
supertouristy Hard Rock Cafe, which is about a mile away in River North. In fact, the hotel
is a relatively restrained rehab of one of the city's historic skyscrapers, the 40-story Carbide
and Carbon B uilding. As y ou might expect, the theme her e is music: P op tunes echo
through the lobby, TV monitors show videos, and glass cases display pop-star memorabilia.
If your kids ar e in the age range that considers w earing a H ard Rock T-shirt from exotic
locales a badge of honor, they may well get a kick from a stay here. But for the grown-ups
in your crowd, the mix of old and new can be somewhat jarring. The black-and-gray lobby
feels like a nightclub , but the marble-and-gold-trimmed elev ator bank still says “high-rise
office building.” Don't expect too much rock-star attitude; to date, the Hard Rock appears
to be populated by youngish business travelers and families. The guest rooms are neutral in
decor with modern furnishings. The building's larger-than-average windows let in plenty of
natural light. The so-called Hard Rock Rooms on the corners of each floor ar e larger than
the standard double r ooms and featur e chaise longues for str etching out. F amilies might
inquire about the suites, located in the to wer at the top of the building, which come in
various one- and two-bedroom configurations and allow an added layer of privacy (with
only one or two suites per floor, you're separated from the masses).