The 21c Museum Hotela chain of mid-size hotels known for being in medium-sized cities such as Cincinnati, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentuckytook a leap in early 2020, opening its largest hotel here in Chicago (at 55 E. Ontario St.; www.21cmuseumhotels.com/chicago/&. However, a little thing called the COVID pandemic hit, shutting down operations.
Now the hotel is back and, among other things, is offering a "Love Is Love" package that runs through Oct. 4just after this year's Pride Parade. In addition to an overnight stay at 21c, the package includes a $50 gift card to Lettuce Entertain You, redeemable at any Lettuce Entertain You (LEYE) restaurant; a 21c Pride swag bag; and a $10 donation to Center on Halsted.
Having experienced this package, I'm here to let you know if you should show love to "Love Is Love."
Location: For a tourist or staycationer, the 21c Museum Hotel Chicago is in a very desirable location. It's basically River North central, so the Loop, Michigan Avenue and other attractions are basically a stone's throw awayas well as public transportation, in case you want to avoid those surging rideshare prices. Also, be sure to ask the front-desk clerk the hotel's connection to TILT, which is about 1,000 feet up at 875 N. Michigan Ave. building (formerly the John Hancock Center).
Feel/atmosphere: The 650-square-foot corner suite at the 21c Museum Hotel, in which I stayed, is about $235/night. The room has large windows and city views, contemporary art from 21c founder Laura Lee Brown and custom furnishings from Derborah Berke Partners. The Luxury Suite includes room to host friends with a separate living area, sectional sofa and dining area.
The suite was, simply, impressive. It was spacious and the bed was perfectlike a slightly firm cloud. What I did notice, however, is that there was no distinguishing feature in the restroom. (My room in the Cincinnati hotel had tiles with body parts coming out of themseriously!while my space in the Louisville counterpart had a black-light option under the shower.) However, those extras aren't necessary, unless you're into a little drama.
Amenities: This hotel offers a variety of spa services (not included in the "Love Is Love" package). However, the service Soothe comes to your room, and has singles/couples massages covering everything from deep tissue to hot stones.
As for dining, I didn't get a chance to try the 21c's new restaurant, Lure Fishbar, as it wasn't open when I visited. However, I plan on reviewing that soon. But there are numerous options around the hotel, including the all-encompassing Chinese spot Lao Sze Chuan, contemporary American restaurant Doc B's and Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (the latter a LEYE space); for breakfast, the nearby place Goddess and the Baker is the perfect stop.
And there's no excuse for not working off that food. I was extremely impressed with 21c's gym (a basement-level space that's only accessible by stairs on the first floor). In fact, it's probably the best-equipped hotel fitness room I've seen, with dozens of free weights and machines (weight and cardio) that target every part of your body. It's not the prettiestwith concrete walls and no televisionbut those devoted to workouts will not complain.
Private spaces are perfect for dining events, seminars and even family reunions, especially with the artistic surroundings.
Speaking of which, the art in the museum are pieces that make up the two-floor "This We Believe" exhibit that runs through December. Some pieces are whimsical (like the green penguin, the bird that's 21c's mascot), but others can cause a spectrum of emotions to rise to the surface. For example, Titus Kaphar's "Ascension" combines images of Michael Jordan and Jesus, while the Kara Walker tapestry "A Warm Summer Night in 1863" shows the caricatured silhouette of a hanged young Black woman in front of an image of a burning orphan asylum for African-American children. Then, there's "21st Century Icarus," by Avelino Sala, which combines Greek and contemporary tragedyspecifically, images of people falling during the collapse of New York City's Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. (The museum is open to the public 24/7, incidentally.)
COVID/health and safety: Even after the COVID restrictions were lifted, employees still sported masks and hand-sanitizer dispensers were everywhere. In addition, rooms come with wipes and bottles of sanitizer. Social distancing is also encouraged.
Bottom line: Boy, did I like my visit to 21c Museum Hotel Chicago! It's definitely worth your timeand I'm looking forward to trying the new restaurant.
Note: This hotel visit was based on an arranged invitation.