From the sparkling crystal chandelier in the elevator to the sky-lit fountain in the 12th floor lobby, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago welcomes guests with style and grace. When we arrived, we were harried after fighting Friday rush-hour traffic, so we were happy to surrender the car to the attendant. Inside, all was calm as a staffer directed us to the lobby elevator. It opens on the 12th floor to a huge space. Windows and a lounge located on the opposite side invite guests to sip cocktails in wing-back chairs and look out on the city skyline and Lake Michigan. The fountain splashes away as guests mill about -- stopping in the gift shop on one side, reviewing the menu to Deca restaurant on the other. After a $25 million renovation in 2010, the hotel was able put the fresh touches on this property, including a completely new lobby design as well as the addition of the restaurant.
Our view from a 25th-floor corner suite, a room decorated in soft topaz-pewter blues with a king-size bed and small living area, draws us to tall windows you can crack open for fresh air. A 14-inch marble windowsill makes a perfect perch to look out on rooftop gardens and down Michigan Avenue. It took us a little while to get used to the sound of the city's famous wind whistling around the building; it must be something to watch a storm roll in off the lake. The staff was everywhere ready to lend hand. We liked our corner room; it had two flat-screen TVs. One was turned to classical Sirius music when we returned from a walk through Water Tower Place to turned-down beds. We love the location, attached to the eight-level Water Tower Place shopping atrium, home to American Girl Dolls and Betsy Johnson, plus, of course, more shopping on Michigan Avenue.
If you're going to splurge on a hotel room for the whole family, you want some VIP extras. After getting a toy of their choice at check-in, kids will discover an in-room play tent stocked with a kid-sized robe and slippers. They can also roll and cut out sugar cookie dough in the daily 4 p.m. cookie baking class with the Ritz's friendly pastry chef while getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the hotel's massive kitchen. While the indoor pool is geared more to adults, kids can still swim in view of Chicago's iconic John Hancock skyscraper through the room's glass ceiling. After dinner, the "Candy Man," in his red striped jacket and white gloves, knocks on your hotel room door and invites kids and adults to pick a late-night sweet treat.