Baby, it’s cold outside. And while the weather outside might be frightful, Hilton’s working hard to make a winter visit to Chicago delightful, even when the temperature drops… and drops further… and… well, you get the picture.
Each of Chicago’s three Hiltons— the Palmer House, Hilton Chicago, and the Conrad are offering incentives that include free parking, breakfast for two, and unlimited coffee or hot chocolate to keep you warm. They’re calling it the Chillcation package, and they’re hoping it will take the chill out of a winter visit.
Here’s a look at each of these three distinct Hilton hotels.
Past is Present at Palmer House in Chicago
Did you know the Palmer House was the first hotel to use electric light bulbs? The first hotel to use an elevator? If you, like me, get a major charge out of history, you’ll love staying in Chicago’s grand dame of hotels, the Palmer House Hilton.
Hallways are lined with glamour shots of the stars of Hollywood’s golden age, who all performed in Palmer’s famed Empire Room. Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Phyllis Diller, Frank Sinatra, to name a few.
The guestrooms also honor Chicago history with elegant vintage black-and-white photos. Our guestroom was decorated with regal purple velvet chairs and matching throw blankets on the bedding.
When you decide to leave the splendor of your guestroom, there’s plenty to do. Take the holidays to new heights, by having lunch at Macy’s historic Walnut room, with its 45 foot tall Christmas tree and admiring the store’s Christmas windows. Macy’s is just a three block stroll up State Street.
Just a block away from the Palmer House, the Art Institute of Chicago has a big present for visitors, inside some tiny rooms in the basement. What’s the big idea? Well, step inside the dark gallery that holds the Thorne Miniature Rooms, and it will all come to light. These rooms are the dollhouses of your dreams. They’re delightful any time of year, but they’re particularly sweet when decked out for the holidays. (admission for adults is $18, $12 for children, students & seniors, children under 14 are free; check the website for free days, artic.edu) Don’t forget to admire the museum’s myriad other treasures, including the famed Impressionist paintings.
After museum hopping, chase away the chill inside Balance, the Palmer House’s world-class spa.
Historic Hospitality at Hilton Chicago
Just off the Hilton Chicago’s luxurious lobby is a room dedicated to the hotel’s history. Hollywood’s clearly fallen in love with the hotel. It’s been featured in plenty of movies, including The Fugitive, Home Alone II and Little Fockers. Yet, the hotel’s mini-museum off the lobby shows that Washington has no reservations about a Hilton Chicago stay either. Every President since Truman has visited the hotel. Situated across from Grant Park, it’s played an important role in many historic events, from the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention to Barack Obama’s victory night celebration.
During the winter, a great way to heat up after seeing the city’s historic sights is by taking a dip in the pool.
Conrad Chicago Caters to Shoppers
High-end boutiques line Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, yet a blustery winter walk down the Mag Mile can be a chilling experience. Conrad Chicago knows how to take the chill out of winter shopping. The hotel is located above the high-end multi-story Michigan Avenue mall, the Shops at North Bridge. Taking up seven city blocks, the mall is anchored by Nordstrom, with some 50 stores and 20 restaurants. An elevator from Conrad Chicago’s elegant fifth floor lobby will take you to an enclosed pedestrian bridge that drops you off inside the Shops at North Bridge.
If the Palmer House and the Hilton Chicago are about wowing you with a combination of glamour, gilded decor and their place in Chicago history, the Conrad Chicago is their cool contemporary cousin. Guestrooms are decorated in soothing neutralizing beiges and whites. It’s a calming retreat from the bustling big city below.
The Conrad’s turned down the volume on the decor, but not on the technology. Each room has iPod dock, Bose audio system and a 42-inch flat-screen television with an Apple AV cable to stream from your Apple product directly to the TV. The high tech amenities partner well with the contemporary decor and feel of the hotel.
Whether you’re planning a holiday shopping weekend or a festive family getaway to see the bright lights, big city, if Chicago’s on your wish list, one of the Windy City’s three Hiltons is a good hotel choice.