Tell people in Chicago that you're staying in one of the 256 rooms at the Peninsula, and the reaction is always something along the lines of, "ooooh." Yes, they're jealous. With good reason. This Asian-based hotel company, with properties in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing, Bangkok, Manila, Beverly Hills and Paris (in 2013), offers sterling—if understated—service and accommodations just a half-block west of North Michigan Avenue. Spacious guest rooms, complete with marble baths and TVs in the bathroom mirrors, offer comfort and three-tiered mood lighting. Wi-FI is free; larger suites offer turndown service, newspaper delivery in cloth bags, two bathroom sinks, soakting tubs, rain showers, private fax machines and bedside TV and light controls.
If you're staying in a suite, as we did with a 6-year-old in tow, we arrived to find little stuffed dinosaurs on the bed, a child-size robe in the closet alongside the adult robes, and "stinky boy" football soap in the bath, all showing an attention to detail hotels of this caliber pride themselves on.
As wonderful as those amenities are, the Peninsula has two other big pluses: Its location across from Water Tower Place and its on-site dining. Opened in 2012, the Lobby restaurant boasts 20-foot-tall windows, white tablecloths, wide armchairs, and a European-inspired menu that takes a simple roasted chicken and turns it into a thing of beauty. (Literally. If you order it, your server brings it out for you to admire before the chef carves it.) Stuffed with sprigs of fresh thyme, the roasted chicken serves two ($54) and comes with roasted apples and drizzled chocolate, plus a bowl of dark meat bathed in a creamy broth. You won't find a better—or prettier—roasted chicken in town. And the Lobby has a children's menu, making this either a reasonable date night out or a place you can feel comfortable bringing kids whose palates aren't quite as adventurous as yours. The only drawback to our entire stay: the relatively distant dining room servers, who were clearly knowledgable but much less effusive than we'd expected. Also on-site: Shanghai Terrace, a Chinese restaurant with a 1930s supper club vibe and excellent cocktails.
This is definitely a place to celebrate and splurge; rates start at $395, plus valet parking. But if you choose to stay here, you'll definitely be in good hands.