Unique Sleeps: Thompson Chicago
Unique Sleeps: Amazing hotels hand picked by Expedia Experts. Thompson, Chicago.
Boutique and beautiful
The term “boutique hotel” is definitely open to interpretation. In my mind, a boutique hotel is (or I hope it will be on check-in) stylish and design-led, not your average cookie cutter décor (no matter how high end) and something that feels more residential than hotel design.
Stylish, luxurious, comfortable, full of moody and cosy hues and interesting pieces, The Thompson in Chicago is a great example of what I believe a modern boutique hotel should be (good examples in Australia are the QT in Sydney and Hotel Hotel in Canberra). During our six-month world trip, this hotel stay was definitely a unique and very enjoyable sleep.
First impressions are, well, wow. The shades of neutral and brown are anything but boring. Different textures, in the tan leather and oversized check upholstered armchairs, keep things interesting and there are vignettes everywhere. The Thompson is luxury with a modern retro vibe and feels like a really great living room where you want to sit down with a cocktail or a coffee.
Eye-catching props, like an old CRT TV set, are artfully arranged around breakout seating areas. The best seat is by the fire, of course. When my friends came to meet us for dinner one night, we thought about shelving our plans and just settling in for the evening in the lobby! Coffee tables are full of great reading material in the form of trendy magazines and books.
All in the details
Of course, the worry is always that they’ve spent all their time and money on the communal areas, leaving the bedrooms a little underwhelming. Gladly, this was not the case. We were lucky enough to snag a corner room; perfect for watching the thunder and lightning that plagued us for half our stay in the windy city. Chicago has great architecture at every turn (we recommend the Wendella river cruise) so the view was great. We could just see Lake Michigan in the distance too.
Our room had a neutral base, with plenty of texture and pattern (striped carpet and velvet armchairs) and just the right amount of accent colour; in our case a gorgeous petrol blue. Touches like two floor and two table lamps (all different) made an impact.
It’s not just about the little details – the bathroom was huge, with about half of it taken up by the shower! Again, lighting was great here, not the unflattering kind that makes you look 10 years older and five kilos heavier on a bad day. A quality hairdryer, gorgeous toiletries, fluffy robes, places to hang things and a tucked away toilet are all big ticks. The only thing lacking was a tub, but they’re becoming less and less likely in today’s hotels.
It wasn’t just the furnishings (and cool art) that impressed though. I also loved details like USB sockets by the bed, negating the need for clunky adaptors, the drinks selection (you pay extra) on the side table and the extreme attention to detail by housekeeping: our room was absolutely spotless. The bed was so super comfortable too and we couldn’t fault the free wifi. There is a gym but we didn’t use it.
A well-oiled machine
The Thompson has been open for less than a year but you don’t find any of those teething problems often experienced with new hotels. Staff are friendly and impressive and the whole operation feels like a well-oiled machine. This is a trendy hotel, make no mistake, and many of the clientele have that cool and wealthy look about them. Pets are allowed so don’t be surprised to share the lift with someone carrying a small designer dog.
We didn’t experience it ourselves, but the hotel’s restaurant, Nico Osteria, with its white table cloths and seafood specialties, has a great reputation and was always full. Apparently you really need to book ahead or you have no chance. The Gold Coast neighbourhood is lovely and really suits the hotel’s residential feel. You step out to a myriad of dining and drinking options and if shopping’s your thing, you’ll find everything you need for that retail therapy fix in nearby Oak Street. I enjoyed this ritzy suburb, full of great people-watching! It’s only a few blocks from Lake Michigan (we hired bikes to ride along it to the zoo and back) and the Magnificent Mile where there are even more shops.
The absolute only downside was the lack of tea and coffee-making facilities in the room, which is a pet hate of mine. Otherwise, I cannot recommend The Thompson highly enough.
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