By Mark Chesnut
The Windy City will get a fresh injection of hotel style on Oct. 11, when PUBLIC Chicago opens its doors. Ian Schrager, the hotelier known for his luxurious boutique properties, is recasting the former Ambassador East Hotel and its Pump Room restaurant into what developers hope will become a trend-setting icon among Chicago hotels.
With his new Chicago hotel, Schrager — who opened his first boutique hotel some 25 years ago — is taking aim at the uniformity that he says has afflicted the boutique hotel concept since it became one of the hospitality industry’s fastest-growing segments. PUBLIC Chicago will feature social areas including the Living Room and Library, which will have a coffee and dessert bar, and the Backroom, which doubles as a screening room for private meetings and events.
The Pump Room restaurant is being completely renovated with a new menu conceived by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, inspired by his ABC Kitchen in New York City, but with local, “farm-to-table” elements from the Chicago area.
The Chicago hotel’s 285 guest rooms are individually furnished with what is described as a “no color” palate that aims to evoke calm and comfort. Guests will be able to customize their mini bars using PUBLIC EXPRESS, a new concept that features “grab and go” snacks, toiletries and other items at the front desk. PUBLIC Chicago also has 10 meeting rooms; a business center; a fitness center and access to David Barton gym.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America.