If you find yourself bound for Chicago, land of deep-dish pie, Irish gang heritage and north of the wall-style winters, you’ll need the right base from which to explore. Enter the Chicago Athletic Association, which has breathed new life into one of the city’s most storied institutions.
Guys are naturally pack animals. We’re drawn to the group dynamic; we like to create bonds and associations, rituals and fellowships. In the Windy City, one of these institutions was the century-old Chicago Athletic Association. The ultimate old boys club, this Venetian Gothic-style retreat has towered over Michigan Avenue since 1893 and offered members the perfect halfway house between a private members lounge and a track meet.
Today, the Chicago Athletics Association is one of the city’s coolest boutique hotels, thanks to an extensive restoration by Commune Hotels & Resorts.
With lines by Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture and award-winning design firm Roman & Williams Buildings and Interiors, the beautifully restored building now plays host to 241 elegantly-appointed guest rooms and suites (check into one of the HOly Cow Suites and you’ll never want to leave) that smack of the former club’s rich tradition, thanks to custom lacquered wooden armoires and bars, Faribault Woolen Mill Co. custom blankets, vintage boxing-inspired robes, and a modern take on 19th-century brass beds.
Times have changed and the Chicago Athletic Association is now home to seven of Chicago’s hottest hospitality venues, including four by local gurus Land & Sea Dept. During the summer months, you’ll find the city’s lovelies at Cindy’s, the hotel’s chic rooftop lounge, with its breathtaking views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, or on the patio of Shake Shack.
For something a little more intimate head to the Milk Room, an eight-seat microbar with an impressive collection of rare spirits, or down to The Game Room, the city’s hottest mixology haunt, with its built-in bocce bay, billiard and shuffleboard tables.
It is an athletics club after all.
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