Openings: The Pendry Chicago Hotel Revives an Art Deco Masterpiece

We’ve always appreciated that from New York, Chicago is just an easy two-hour flight from away – offering a quick escape hatch when Gotham’s endless trend chasing becomes all too overbearing (Chicagoans aren’t much bothered about such things). But from around March 13 of last year, the culture capital of the Midwest suddenly became a world away, as travel restrictions went into force, and the longest trip anyone could expect to take was to the grocery store or the COVID testing clinic.

Now the skies are again filling up with big metal flying machines, assuring that O’Hare will soon return to being one of the busiest places in the world…and all those frequent flyers will need stylish new places to stay, naturally. To that end, Chicago has just been graced with a plush new Pendry hotel, from the methodically growing boutique brand of the same name – part of Montage Hotels – with properties currently in San Diego, Baltimore and West Hollywood (a Manhattan opening is scheduled for September of this year).

It must be said that the Fell’s Point, Baltimore Pendry quickly made our worldwide top ten list upon a stay in late 2019, spectacularly fitted as it is into a 1914 pier building on the Inner Harbor. And the Chicago hotel has similar historical heft, as it calls home the revamped champagne-bottle-shaped and Burnham Brothers designed 1929 Art Deco masterpiece the Carbide & Carbon Building. It’s located right along the northern end of Michigan Avenue, just a short stroll from the Riverwalk that causes so many visitors to the city to swoon.

But the Pendry will not be striving to be Virgin / SoHo House sceney. Rather, it should prove to be a formidable challenger to other modern luxe properties like the Langham, the Conrad and the also new Nobu Hotel near the Fulton Market. Firstly, it’s got 364 smartly styled rooms by Allessandro Munge of venerable Ontario based Studio Munge. Some boast parquet flooring and original etched ceilings, and all have elegantly muted color schemes. The lobby features works by Amsterdam light artist Arnout Meijer, and the strikingly dramatic black & white striped flooring allows for particularly grand entrances, should one be inclined towards such things (we definitely are).

Curiously about Chicago, despite its significant collective culinary gravitas, it’s sorting of lacking in great hotel restaurants (there’s the Langham’s Travelle, and dim sum temple Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula). So the arrival of the Pendry’s haute French brasserie Venteux is not insignificant – as it will be helmed by Exec Chef + Partner Donald Young, the city’s youngest ever recipient of a Michelin-star (which he earned at Temporis). It’s complemented by the moodily lit Pendry Bar, the 24th floor / Côte d’Azur inspired Château Carbide – where select DJs will keep things going into the wee hours – and because why not, a billiard gallery with rotating exhibitions and seasonal pop-ups.

Blessedly, Europe is opening back up to vaccinated American travelers. But for those still a bit jittery about long, transatlantic flights, an extended stay in Chicago seems like the perfect way to ease out of lockdown. And with apologies to Paris, Rome and London, the Pendry is just the sort of destination hotel to make that decision all the easier.

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