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Chic in Chicago: Public Hotel

by habituallychic

10 . 13 . 11
One of the reasons I always wanted to move to New York was Studio 54.  Growing up, I would hear stories of this magical place where like in New York itself, anything was possible including seeing Bianca Jagger riding a white horse.  So when I was recently asked if I would like to attend the grand opening of Ian Schrager’s newest venture, PUBLIC Hotel Chicago, I jumped at the chance.  I’m so happy that I did too because I not only enjoyed the hotel but had a wonderful time in Chicago. 
PUBLIC is a billed as a new class of hotel they are calling “affordable luxury” with an emphasis on service “that addresses the needs and wants of today’s sophisticated and savvy guest.  Its fundamental attributes are innovative, chic, authentic style, spot-on, friendly, personalized, empathetic service; and lasting comfort with complete functionality, all at a tremendous value.”

As you can see from my room, they took great care with decor and the attention to detail is pure Ian Schrager.  The hotel is located in the old Ambassador East hotel that was built in 1926.  One of my favorite aspects to PUBLIC is not newly constructed building.  While the interiors have been renovated, they still retain quirky details that add to its appeal.
I loved the location on Chicago’s Gold Coast which is more residential and very quiet.  Yet it was easy for me to walk to all the stores and sights.  While I did make it to many places on my list like the Architecture Boat Tour and Jayson Home, I did not have time to visit the Art Institute of Chicago or Millennium Park.  But that just gives me a reason to return.

I had a two room suite that also included a sofa bed that would be perfect for families traveling with children. As you can see, most of the room is white.  I asked Mr. Schrager how they planned to keep it white and he assured me that they took cleaning and replacement costs into consideration in regard to the budget.  You have to admit that it looks very chic.

I joked that “if you leave it, I will eat it.”  Little treats and fruit are left in all the rooms. 

A sign of good design to me is a something that doesn’t necessarily reflect my own personal style but yet because it works in the context of the space, makes me love it.  I don’t usually use such clean lined furniture like the tables and built-ins but it works for me since they left all the great architectural details like the wainscoting and old fireplace.
The black and white photography is by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

The bedroom area is the size of a regular room and had a bit of a zen feeling.  I faced the front of the hotel and the light was amazing.

The light fixtures are custom and remind me of Serge Mouille.

The roses added a nice pop of color in the otherwise neutral room.
The white bed linens are from Frette. Not something you would expect in a hotel with rooms that average $200-400.

The rooms also include little postcard photo pictures of Chicago jazz musicians.  PUBLIC Chicago is the first of many PUBLIC hotels that are planned.  I heard they just bought properties in London and it will be interesting to see how the design and details are tweaked to reflect each new city and old hotel they inhabit.

The old Ambassador East hotel had fallen on hard times and it’s nice to see it revived. Everyone in Chicago is excited about it and the revival of the famous Pump Room restaurant in the hotel with food created by James Beard award winning chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.  The Pump Room also supplies the meals for room service which I can attest is amazing.
One little thing I could used and is convenient when traveling with someone is a make up mirror.  The bathroom was a little dark but the room was filled with light and you could sit at the little desk to do your make up.

I really loved the lighting and inside the built-in is the mini-bar.  I also had a wet bar in my room. In the old hotel, it was a kitchenette with full size appliances.

Every movie star and celebrity who visited Chicago dined at the Pump Room.  Their photos still grace the entrance and lower level as well as post cards and other items for sale.  They also burn Le Labo Santal 26 candles in the lobby.  If you remember, I wear the Santal 26 room spray as perfume so needless to say, I loved the smell when you walked into the hotel.
Because PUBLIC follows the same footprint as the old Ambassador East hotel, the bathroom is on the small side.  It didn’t bother me in the least and have experienced smaller bathrooms in Europe.  I would have preferred that the full length mirror was on a wall in the room and not across from the closet since it was a small space.
As I mentioned, the hotel is full of quirkly little details like the blue and white cups in the bathroom.  I love blue and white and thought this was a nice touch.  Even though the hotel is primarily neutral, it still feels warm and cozy which is hard to accomplish.

The doors and brass hardware were also original and it’s nice that they kept them.  All in all, I had a wonderful time at PUBLIC hotel in Chicago and I look forward to seeing them expand to other cities.  London should be the next city with New York and Los Angeles to follow. 
I also want to clarify that while my travel was covered for this trip, I was not paid to write about PUBLIC.  I honestly enjoyed myself and as with Chicago in general, the staff could not have been nicer or more helpful. It was such a great trip that for a second, I could have pictured moving to the Windy City.  That was until I was brought back to reality by the thought of a Chicago winter. Although, they do have a working fireplace in the lobby of PUBLIC…hmmmm.

Photos by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic

Comments Closed

  1. kacky October 13, 2011 | 1:50 pm

    Excellent review. We go to Chicago about twice a year- very glad to have read this. I will stay there next time. Love the touches and the chicness of the room. Yes- you must return and visit Millennium Park- it is a definite must see. The gardens, the art, just all of it.

  2. Ann October 13, 2011 | 3:31 pm

    Great review. We have family in Chicago so we often stay with them but if we ever need an escape, I’ll keep this in mind! Side note, I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. I’ve been a long-time reader/lurker/fan yet this is my first post after what seems like years! Thanks for your writing and keep up the wonderful work!!

  3. DJS October 13, 2011 | 3:41 pm

    Yes, please make the Art Institute a must next time. It’s one of our true treasures and puts many an art museum to shame.

  4. Hollye October 13, 2011 | 3:45 pm

    So glad you had fun! It is an extraordinary spot. My good friend, Laurie Miller, did the architecture of the downstairs Pump Room and Library and Screening Room (did you get to see it? Super fun!). Good call avoiding the Chicago Winter (the #1 reason we moved from there to California!). Brrrrrr!!!!
    Hollye Jacobs, http://www.brooksidebuzz.com

  5. bevy October 13, 2011 | 6:05 pm

    I’m digging all the white! I agree, the bathroom is small, but the design of it gives inspiration to homeowners who could probably easily replicate it.

  6. ms.composure October 13, 2011 | 7:31 pm

    great great review! this place looks AMAZING and i would def consider staying there when i go to chicago. looks like you enjoyed the room and it does look like a very cozy “home away from home” type o fplace


  7. Visual Therapy October 13, 2011 | 9:32 pm

    Love your review! Great to see that the rooms are just as chic as the party was.

  8. Handpicked by Ron and Chris October 14, 2011 | 8:13 am

    Beautiful and chic yet very homey! very inspiring.

  9. Lost in Provence October 14, 2011 | 9:31 am

    I worked under Mr. Schrager for a few years when he reopened the Paramount Hotel–another renovation that I think is often overlooked in terms of its influence on the hotel industry. I can attest that he is extremely exacting over each detail–when I was answering phones, they needed to be picked up by the third ring–at the latest!

  10. With love... October 14, 2011 | 1:25 pm

    The details of the roses and the bathroom cups are divine!


  11. Eden October 14, 2011 | 1:31 pm

    I really Enjoyed Your Blog , It’s Good .

    I hope you will Enjoy Mine As Well


  12. Joseph the Butler October 14, 2011 | 3:47 pm

    Nothing is colder than crossing Park Avenue on a wet winter’s night after walking your dog in Central Park–if I could survive that, I said, I could survive anything Chicago could through at me. The winter is not as bad as one is lead to believe. I think Detroit is worse.

  13. Cassandra October 14, 2011 | 9:01 pm

    ITS SO PRETTY. how the hell do you keep a white hotel room clean?

  14. MJH Design Arts October 15, 2011 | 3:19 am

    Amazing– a boutique European style hotel!!