01 of 07
The Romantic Peninsula Chicago
We two romantics felt a rush of anticipation for the experience awaiting us in Chicago as the hotel doormen in their iconic Peninsula “page” uniforms greeted us with smiles.
We were not disappointed as we stepped into the sumptuous lobby, which felt like a modern-day palace. Gold-trimmed columns reached up to a coffered, gilded ceiling and two-story high windows opened to the city, lighting up the spectacular French Deco-style space.
Looking around, we kept spotting yet another piece of the hotel’s eclectic art collection, from the pair of traditional Chinese lions guarding the entry and the Chinese bas-relief on the wall behind the front desk to the modern bronze sculptures by Chicago artist Jean Jacques Porret that appear around the lobby and in the guest rooms.
As we checked in, we were excited to learn about some of the VIP “Keys to the City” perks of staying here, such as a priority pass and complimentary guidebook to The Art Institute of Chicago and a private shopping session at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Most of all, we were thrilled to be spending a long weekend at one of Chicago’s most luxurious hotels, and while we didn’t spot any celebrities or world leaders during our stay, it wouldn’t have surprised us if we had.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
Guest Room at The Peninsula Chicago
The first thing that struck us when we entered the room was the palatial feeling of space created by the high ceilings, huge windows and royal proportions. We were surprised to learn that at 530 sq. ft., our generously sized room was among the hotel’s smallest.
Our king-size bed was piled with inviting pillows and covered with pure white Pratesi linens. The marble bathroom had an oversized tub with an inset TV on the facing wall—perfect for long shared soaks before dinner—as well as a separate shower stall and separate sinks and vanities.
We liked having a dressing area. Our room also had a comfy sitting area, desk, vanity and a small dining table with two chairs where we could sip morning coffee and look down on the city.
We appreciated all the cool features such bedside and desk-docked tablets that let us order room service, create a ‘do not disturb’ setting, control the temperature, lights and TV and more. And throughout our stay, we were tickled by special touches like how the maid tied my computer wire into a neat circle with a handsome ribbon.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
Dining at The Peninsula Chicago
The hotel has an AAA Four Diamond restaurant, Shanghai Terrace, as well as a bistro-style eatery, Pierrot Gourmet, where we came for morning pastries and the afternoon wine flight.
By far, our favorite spot was The Lobby, a grand space serving elegantly presented dishes throughout the day and evening, often accompanied by live music. The formal afternoon tea and unusual dinner entrees such as tagliatelle a la carbonara with mushrooms and smoked rabbit and a pan-roasted skate wing with fennel were wonderful.
What made us vow to return was the weekend-only “Chocolate at the Pen,” an extravaganza of chocolate desserts and a made-to-order ice cream sundae and hot chocolate station where we could taste and select from chocolates of varying concentrations and spices from around the world for hot chocolate and ice cream toppings.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
Weddings at The Peninsula Chicago
Romantic wedding spaces include an open terrace, ideal for sunset cocktails, and a grand ballroom, which features floor to ceiling windows so the wedding party can dine and dance amid the twinkling lights of the city.
Although the hotel offers pre-planned wedding packages, it prides itself on its ability to customize whatever the wedding party wants, according to wedding planner Jennifer Clarke.
For example, Clarke brought in all-white furniture and a DJ to fulfill one couple’s dream of a Miami club-style afterglow party. For another, Clarke took design cues from the bride’s favorite movie, Marie Antoinette, to recreate the feeling of an 18th century French court.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Activities at The Peninsula Chicago
The 19th-floor heated pool and Jacuzzi, where 20-foot high floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor sun terrace afford expansive views of the city, is especially romantic in the evenings.
We were tempted by the indulgent couples spa treatments and considered taking advantage of the free yoga and fitness classes and sunny, spacious fitness center, but never quite made it past the sunlight-bathed pool.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Nearby The Peninsula Chicago
The hotel is in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, making it feasible to step out to explore the fashionable shops, catch a matinee or dine and then return “home” before heading out again.
Concierges can arrange special treatment at many places around the city for hotel guests. Many of the best experiences are curated through the “Pen Academy,” including a charter yacht cruise with a butler-served lunch and expert architecture guide, a private curator-guided tour at the Art Institute of Chicago and a comedy show, class and private tour at The Second City.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Everything Else to Know About The Peninsula Chicago
The art-filled spaces create a sophisticated scene, matched by the well-heeled clientele. On weekends, the hotel attracts couples and families from the local area as well as from around the world. On weekdays, business travelers join the mix, but the vibe remains elegantly relaxed.
The hotel’s sophisticated ambience and service make it a natural for romantic getaways. However programs for kids and small dogs also make it a popular spot for families, especially on weekends.
There were only a handful of well-behaved kids when we hit the pool on Sunday and a spokesperson for the hotel assured me that when there are a lot of kids, a staff member organizes fun activities for kids (and dogs) so they don’t intrude upon other guests.
The Peninsula Chicago
108 East Superior St. (at N. Michigan Ave.)
Chicago, Illinois 60611