Stepping into Chicago's Palmer House Hilton is like stepping back in time. This hotel's walls have seen the city's booms and recessions, its glamour and its vice. Just walking the halls, looking at photos and reading plaques can give visitors a sense of Chicago's last 100 years. But actually staying as a guest envelops you in another era, a time when Chicago's Loop was THE spot for dignitaries and Hollywood elite.
Palmer House treated my family to an elegant overnight this spring. While my husband and I are big fans of Palmer's Lounge, neither of us had ever stayed over as guests. While we checked in, our sons marveled at the ornate decor and the hotel's grand scale. They immediately climbed the stairs to watch us from the balcony-which is how they spotted the lobby's iPads. This juxtaposition of old and new allowed me to sit back and imagine myself as Jane Russell while they sat back comforted by Internet access.
The same was true once we entered our gorgeous suite. The furnishings have a very Art Deco feel (a chaise lounge in the living room), but all the latest technology. They were docking iPods before I had unzipped the suitcase. We were excited to use our "Executive Privileges" (well worth the additional nightly cost) so we headed toward the special executive elevator.
As we walked the halls, my husband and I kept stopping at the dramatic photos of the superstars who had stayed or entertained at the Palmer House back in the day, from Rat Packers to Benny Goodman and Jack Benny. We made it to the executive lounge to find delicious appetizers and sodas, plus terrific city views.
With all the hotel's amenities (including the intimate pool and state-of-the-art gym/spa), I would have been content to never leave. The hotel's late check-out time gave us more time to explore the hotel's ground floor, its famous peacock doors and the lobby's ceiling mural.
We definitely will be back.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.