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Hotelier and designer Ian Schrager has been a leader the hotel industry since he debuted the boutique hotel concept in 1984. This year he takes us in a new direction with his “anti-design,” “anti-flash” hotel brand, PUBLIC. PUBLIC Chicago (formerly the iconic Ambassador East) will be the first property transformed into Schrager’s vision this fall 2011 (grand opening date is scheduled for October 11). The tastemaker says he is “sick of slick," and has gone for a simple, unassuming design for PUBLIC Chicago. "It is confident, self-assured, genuine and grounded, with no tricks or gimmicks.”

“Luxury, says Schrager, is no longer about spending the most money. It is about getting the best value and being made to feel special. This is not in response to difficult economic times, it is a true paradigm shift.”

Now that’s what we’ve been talking about! And with preview rates at $135/night, it seems Mr. Schrager is for real. As of today, design details are still sparse, but we know that there will be "no-color" guest rooms, intimate social spaces like The Living Room and The Library, a restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a Stumptown Coffee bar, a screening room, a made-over Pump Room which will turn into a 40s-style supper club (with a twist) after hours, and a new front desk concept that will allow guests to customize their mini-bars and toiletries. Oh, and free Wi-Fi.

Sit tight. More on the PUBLIC to come . . .

For general trip-planning information, see our Chicago Travel Guide.

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