Chicago is known to have lots of world-class museums, art galleries and cultural institutions that are sure to equally amuse and educate all visitors. After you check in to any Chicago hotel that caters to your traveling needs, make sure to visit some of the city’s best museums. You can find three important natural sciences museums at the Museum Campus (they’re close to one another, so you can easily do some serious exploration)—the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum of Natural History. Also don’t miss the Museum of Science and Industry and the world-class Art Institute of Chicago.

Chicago: Hotel Sherman, ca. 1910.

The Hotel Sherman was one of the city’s premier hotels and a leading night-life venue during much of the early twentieth century. The hotel’s origins, however, date back to 1837. In that year, Francis C. Sherman, a three-time mayor of Chicago and father of the legendary Civil War general, opened the City Hotel on the north side of Randolph Street between Clark and LaSalle. The hotel, renamed the Sherman House in 1844, measured a mere 18 by 84 feet.

The venerable Sherman House endured many changes over the years, not the least of which was the great fire of 1871, when the hotel burned to the ground alongside the rest of downtown. Quickly rebuilt, the new structure was larger and more elaborately decorated than its predecessor. By the turn of the century, however, the Sherman House began to lose its luster and popularity. Gradually, it gained the reputation as the “deadest hotel” in town.

Not until the hotel was acquired by entrepreneur Joseph Beifeld was its decline reversed. Beifeld, a Jewish Hungarian immigrant, dramatically improved the hotel’s image with the help of first-class customer service and top-flight entertainment in the evenings. By 1904, the new and improved Hotel Sherman and its famed restaurant, the College Inn, were the talk of the town, increasingly frequented by local celebrities and members of high society.

Buoyed by the turnaround, Beifeld invested several million dollars in new construction at the hotel. In 1911, the main hotel structure was rebuilt, followed by an additional $7 million, twenty-three-story expansion in 1925. By the end of the 1920s, the Hotel Sherman contained 1600 guest rooms, a banquet hall seating 2500, and stunning new marble lobby. Local newspapers reported that the new facilities made the Sherman the largest hotel west of New York City.

The Hotel Sherman remained one of Chicago’s premier night spots through the 1910s and 1920s, attracting celebrities, tourists, and members of high society. It was during this period that the College Inn restaurant, with the help of band leader Isham Jones, became a notable jazz venue. Jones broke with the genteel tradition of violin-based hotel performance when he replaced many of his orchestra’s waltz-oriented numbers with new, jazz-inspired tunes. Though there were critics of the change, most of the restaurant’s patrons applauded the livelier arrangements and the freer dance styles they encouraged.

Though the tunes played by Isham Jones and his all-white jazz orchestra were tame in comparison to those heard in the racially mixed cabarets of the South Side, they nonetheless gave many white Chicagoans their first taste of jazz. To be sure, the College Inn was an especially important fixture in Chicago’s growing jazz scene. There, amid the refined surroundings of the Hotel Sherman, jazz sounds migrated from the city’s African-American neighborhoods into the center of white society. For black musicians, however, the popularization of jazz music among white Chicagoans was a mixed blessing, since discriminatory hiring practices excluded them from joining the orchestras at the city’s white hotels. Hotel managers feared that patrons of venues like the College Inn would object to listening and dancing to jazz music if it were performed by black musicians.

After the Second World War, the Sherman retained its position as one of the city’s leading hotels, popular among visiting businessmen and conventioneers. In time, however, the hotel began to show its age and had an increasingly difficult time competing with newer hotels along Michigan Avenue and in the suburbs. In January 1973, the hotel closed. At the time, it was the oldest hotel in continuous operation in the state of Illinois. There were plans to remodel the building into a fashion mart and build a replacement hotel at the corner of Randolph and LaSalle, but nothing came of them. In 1980, the hotel was demolished. Its site is now occupied by the Thompson Center, formerly known as the State of Illinois Center.

Chicago: La Salle Hotel. Ca.1910. 

The La Salle Hotel was a historic hotel that was located on the northwest corner of La Salle Street and Madison Street in the Chicago Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It was situated to the southwest of Chicago City Hall and in very close proximity to St. Peter’s Church. It was built between 1908 and 1909 by Holabird & Roche, contemporaneously with the Blackstone Hotel designed by Benjamin Marshall in a very similar style and at the time was Chicago’s finest hotel.

After a major fire in the hotel in June 1946, it was rebuilt at a cost of US$ 2 million and reopened in July 1947; it flourished for 29 more years, until it was demolished in 1976 to make room for office towers.

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Check in: for its überfunky, stylish, yet cosy ambiance. Room comes with a comfy crocodile skin lounge chair. Take a shower with Roger Daltrey and wake up with Paul Stanley watching over you. Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Chicago (Michigan Avenue). In the fantastic vintage Carbide & Carbon Building.

Check out: the numerous rock ‘n’ roll paraphernalia throughout the hotel (signed guitars! frivolous suits! high heeled boots!). Guitarists take their pick from 20 different Fender guitars (included in room rate). Brought to your room by a skilled roadie. Stay like a true rock star!




I Love the Sepia Restaurant in Chicago

I Love the Sepia Restaurant in Chicago

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Pastry chef Français : Pâtissier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sepia is a delightful restaurant in Chicago. The dining room is located in a former 1890′s print studio and is filled with photography memorabilia.

Executive chef Andrew Zimmerman graduated first in his class at the prestigious French Culinary Institute and it is reflected in his Meditterranean influenced cuisi…

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