It seems incongruous at first: the familiar Hard Rock logo affixed to the facade of a classically beautiful art deco building located on Michigan Avenue at the southern approach to Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile and just blocks from the downtown Loop and the Chicago River. But once inside, it becomes clear that the blend of old and new — the preservation of the historic Carbon and Carbide building, redecorated with photos and memorabilia of iconic rock ‘n roll stars — is a winning combination.
While the rock star theme carries over from the mid-20th century public areas to the guest rooms, the latter are strictly 21st century — flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations — and spacious: the smallest rooms are 350 square feet, king-sized beds standard. Most rooms have great views: either of the Windy City’s skylines, the river or Lake Michigan. Wi-fi access is always free in those public areas, and free in the rooms if you book online.
Also free is a perk unique to Hard Rock: take a Fender guitar to your room and unleash your inner rock star. Not the way you roll? How about a pool table in your suite? The Hard Rock has a couple of over-the-top suites for special occasions like bachelor parties. And check the website for exclusive menus for bachelorette and even break-up parties.
It comes as no surprise that the Hard Rock has a reputation for specializing in facilitating partying; its Angels & Kings nightclub is jampacked every weekend with revelers. But lest one think that the Hard Rock is geared only for a young crowd, the hotel boasts a Nursing Mothers Amenity Program, as well as free membership and perks with its Business Traveler Program. In addition, the property welcomes small pets.
Another hugely popular venue on-site is Chuck’s, a Kerry Simon Kitchen, the Chicago restaurant of the culinary mogul dubbed, fittingly in this case, the “rock ‘n roll chef” (by Rolling Stone Magazine). Simon, who opened his first Simon Kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, is the Iron Chef America winner for his “perfect hamburger” — just one of the stars on his delectable menu of re-invented comfort food classics. As befits the classification, the portions are suitably large — but save room for dessert (even though the “Junk Food Platter” is a main course of sweets in its own right). And wash everything down with one of the refreshing signature cocktails. Weather permitting, enjoy your meal al fresco while people-watching on Michigan Avenue.
From millennials to boomers, the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago has something for everyone.
No. of rooms: 381
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the Hard Rock Hotel for purposes of review.