19th-Century Hotel on Michigan Avenue with Elegant Guest Rooms
When it was opened in 1893, The Congress Plaza Hotel was intended to be the elite spot for travelers who passed through Chicago. The hotel first welcomed guests during the World’s Columbian Exposition. Over the next 50 years, it was furnished with glamorous ballrooms and stylish supper clubs. The building soon became known as the “Home of the Presidents” for hosting Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon. Now the hotel’s chief advantage is its superb location in downtown Chicago, where it stands along Michigan Avenue. It’s just steps from Grant Park, several world-class museums, and a host of luxury retail stores.
More than a century after its construction, the hotel still exudes Old-World glamour. In standard guest rooms you’ll find soaring ceilings and large windows. Lake-view rooms are similar in size and style, but feature fantastic views of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, and Lake Michigan. Be sure to explore the rest of the hotel—the lobby ceiling is decorated with mosaic tiles, and the Renaissance-style Gold room features elaborate murals restored by Lido Lippi, who also helped restore the Sistine Chapel.
The Congress has two onsite dining venues. Rafael Steak House serves gourmet burgers, roasted duck breast with orange sauce, and other specialties. In the morning, you can enjoy a hearty American breakfast at the Gazebo Restaurant.
Chicago’s Loop: Historic Commercial Center with World-Class Museums and Parks
The Congress Plaza Hotel is situated on the eastern edge of the Loop, Chicago’s historic commercial center and the country’s second-largest business district. Here you’ll see several famous skyscrapers, including the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the Chicago Board of Trade. This part of town is also home to waterfront parks, a glitzy theater district, and some of the world’s finest art museums.
Half a mile from the hotel is the Art Institute of Chicago. The gargantuan collection includes everything from marble busts and sarcophagi to modern masterpieces such as Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The Loop also features some spectacular public art, such as the outdoor sculptures by Picasso, Calder, and Miro.
Grant Park, known affectionately as “Chicago’s front yard,” occupies more than 300 acres along the lake directly across from the hotel. Modeled after the gardens at Versailles, the park is dotted with several impressive attractions—Buckingham Fountain, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium among them. Just to the north, in Millennium Park, the Frank Gehry–designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts free outdoor music concerts during the summer.