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Best Hotel Lobby Hangouts In Chicago

The best part about hotel resorts is the feeling of being in some exotic place or city, regardless if you live in the city of that very establishment. You may be a local. You may be a tourist with certain hotels outside of your budget, or perhaps they were already booked, or you are looking for a break from the lobby of the hotel you are currently staying at. No matter the reason, this is a relatively cost free way of entertaining yourself through the magic of people watching and mingling with a crowd where you technically should not be. The hotels (and lobbies within) are suggested based upon the following: dynamic guests staying at/frequenting the establishment; relaxed security; friendly non-threatening staff; chance of "hooking up"; networking opportunities; and if your feeling really daring, free amenities such as access to swimming pools and other common areas. In all seriousness, most hotel resorts are aware of this practice and are happy to overlook it as long as you are respectful of the guests and premises and spend at least a little cash at one of the on-site offerings (cafes, restaurants, gift shop, vending machines, etc...). P.S. We never had this conversation.


SAX Chicago

333 North Dearborn St., Chicago, IL


The SAX hotel lobby and surrounding area is "fusion" in its truest form. This Thompson Hotels property combines contemporary elements with traditional, class with eccentricity, or as they put it "elegant and bohemian". All of the above suits this funky Chicago hot spot hotel perfectly. Found in the fun Marina City area that huddles together hip establishments such as the House of Blues Restaurant & Concert hall, Smith & Wollensky Steak House, 10 Pin Bowling Lounge, Bin 36 Restaurant & Wine Cellar and Crimson Lounge, SAX hotel is a great "pop in" point of interest while en route to and from your evening activities. Inside you will find eclectic groups of patrons and socialites that simply add to the already attractive atmosphere. There is a 6th floor Tech Lounge (video games, listening stations and other e-toys) but is only accessible to guests so you may just want to mosey on through the hotel lobby hang out area to the check-in counter to book a yourself a room to get the full experience that the SAX hotel in Chicago has to offer. 


The Palmer House Hilton Hotel
17 East Monroe Street, Chicago


Located within the rejuvenated and bustling Chicago Loop, the historical commercial center point of the city, the Palmer House Hilton hotel finds itself within walking distance from some of the Windy City's main attractions such as Millennium Park, Grant Park, Lake Michigan, the Art Institute of Chicago, the theater district, and the Magnificent Mile in addition to many more depending on your leg strength. It is also within a quick bus or train ride to the likes of Wrigley Field and the United Center. The Palmer House has thus become an attraction on its own and with good reason beyond its proximity to Chicago destination points.

One step inside of the lobby has you reaching for your camera or kicking yourself for not bringing it along. Luxury is the word to describe this hotel which has stood in operation longer than any other hotel in U.S. history and can tell you story upon story of the personalities, celebrities, people and politicians (some people, some not so much) that have passed through the magnificent halls of the Palmer House. What magnificent halls they are with French Baroque style influence evidenced in every detail of the decor. Gold, silver and butter cream tones line every nook and cranny. The lobby alone feels like a ballroom draped in elegance in preparation for a royal wedding and incites fantastic images in one's mind of what has taken place well over a century (and a few decades) ago. The Palmer House Hilton is not just a must visit hotel lobby but a must visit attraction in Chicago for fans of history, architecture and class.


Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
20 East Chestnut Street - Down Town, Chicago


Appropriately minutes from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, this luxury hotel is beyond contemporary itself with its modern french design and a glass exterior that perfectly reflects the city lights of the Windy City at night. Relax in cool comfort while “awaiting your party” in the lobby on the soft sectional sofas while admiring the abstract art on display, dim lit with spotlights against the dark walls of the Sofitel. Guests at this hotel complement the atmosphere and people watching is a treat as people head on through to dine at one of the city's best restaurants, Cafe Des Architectes or for drinks at the chic yet comfortable Le Bar. Sofitel Chicago is far exceeds its worth as a lobby attraction hotel.


The Drake Hotel

140 E. Walton Place, Chicago, IL


The Drake is yet another historical landmark in a city rich with hotels and other buildings that fit such a category. This luxury hotel started with the bang of fireworks on New Years Eve 1920 when it opened its doors with perfect timing. From January 1st of that year The Drake seemed to follow in a tradition of “firsts”. For the city of Chicago, they were the first to have air conditioning and color TVs in the guest rooms, the first to employ elevator operators and it's bar, the Cape Cod Room, opened the literal day after the end of Prohibition on December 6 - 1933, as if “conveniently” prepared, ready and waiting.


The Drake begins at the Magnificent Mile within what is considered the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, known for its overall affluence and boutique shopping excellence that ranges from Chanel to Vera Wang. One peak inside the lobby tells you that the property was designed to complement this upscale district and in a reversal there is no doubt that the area maintained its image over the century with the help its favorite urban resort The Drake. Exotic carpeting, tremendous crystal chandeliers and floral arrangements rival any European 5-star accommodation. As expected, the hotel has premium dining options with the Palm Court, Drake Bros, and the aforementioned Cape Cod, but if you are only in to pay homage to this fine establishment, be sure to at least visit the Lavazza Cafe  for your favorite espresso beverage. The other hotels on this list carry adjectives like elegance, class, and luxury as does The Drake, but it owns one word exclusive to the property; original.