Fresh off last summer's $15 million renovation, Chicago's Allegro Royal Sonesta Hotel Chicago Loop hearkens back to the city’s Jazz Age and Art Deco grandeur with a lobby that gleams and sparkles. The 483 rooms aren’t too shabby, either. Snug in the Windy City’s Theater District and near hip River North restaurants, it’s the perfect winter getaway. Consider this transformation the building’s second chapter: when it was built in 1926, it opened as Bismarck Hotel, and later joined the Kimpton brand in 1998. We checked in, and here's the scoop on this snazzy property:
Best Feature: Did we mention the reno? Staying here is like walking into a “Downton Abbey” scene (albeit on American soil). Once you descend up the staircase -- original to the building -- from the street level, you’re greeted with “Lady Lucent of Awakening,” a massive piece of art from Chicago artist Sarah Raskey that weaves in her family’s heirloom jewelry. It’s the perfect pairing with caramel- and turquoise-colored sofas and Art Deco light fixtures, plus a cozy see-through fireplace on a white-marble wall.
The Rooms: Silver, black, and cream hues drive the décor in each of the rooms, accented by gold hardware for glam appeal. Each room has a 37-inch flat-screen television and an iPod docking station. Pro-tip: Get the $12.99 daily WiFi cost waived when you become a Kimpton Karma Rewards member, which costs nothing.
The Food: With the renovation, the “Great Gatsby”-esque Bar Allegro was introduced, offering complimentary morning coffee and tea service, along with evening bubbly as part of the Kimpton social-hour tradition from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Candied bacon and local beers are also served. 312 Chicago -- serving breakfast, lunch and dinner -- is not your typical hotel-lobby eatery. Instead, the Italian-themed concept is also a destination for locals, serving everything from burrata to branzino.
Who Will Love It: Traveling with Fido? Kimpton’s dog-friendly vibe rules, with no additional fees or deposits (a rarity for downtown Chicago hotels). Theater fans will love that a show is just a short walk away, as will foodies hunting down the next restaurant craze (like Latinicity, Richard Sandoval’s new Latin-themed food hall). Solo travelers don’t have to feel cooped up in their rooms, thanks to a bevy of nooks and crannies for reading, sipping a cocktail, or working on your laptop. Our favorite: The crescendo space -- behind velvet tie-back drapes up a half-flight of stairs off the lobby, with an artsy mural for creative inspiration.
Who Will Not: A spa is not on site, nor is a pool, so travelers yearning for pampering would need to leave the property. There's a 24-hour fitness center on site, however, with treadmills, elliptical machines, and free weights. In-room spa services can be arranged, too, as well as in-room yoga -- each room boasts a mat and dedicated yoga channel.
Nearby: It’s easy to explore Chicago’s lakefront thanks to Kimpton’s free loaner bikes. And all of Chicago’s major theaters -- including Goodman Theatre and Cadillac Palace Theatre -- are within walking distance from the hotel.
Deals and Special Offers: Winter is a great time to visit Chicago if you’re a bargain hunter. We found rates of $112-$144 through March 1, with most falling between $112-$120. And even March’s rates are decent ($161-$215). The “Breakfast for $1 More” package tacks on the morning meal for two at 312 Chicago for just a buck more per night (Thursday through Sunday only).
Getting There: Out-of-towners can utilize Chicago’s two airports -- O’Hare International Airport and Midway -- and either cab it into the city ($40 one-way for a 30- to 40-minute trek) or hop on the “L,” Chicago’s elevated-rail system (45 minutes on either the Blue Line from O’Hare or Orange Line from Midway). From large cities in the Midwest, Amtrak routes into downtown Chicago’s Union Station work well, as does Metra’s suburban-rail service.