Welcome to the Thompson Chicago—a luxury boutique hotel just north of the Magnificent Mile and nestled within the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. This area is an upscale shopper’s Mecca that is decorated with stunning historic mansions, swanky boutiques, and charming restaurants and bars. I was familiar with the Thompson brand of hotels as it is one of the hottest nightspots in my hometown of Toronto. Moreover, the Thompson has been a long-time partner of FAJO Magazine, so I was absolutely thrilled to stay there for my brief vacation.
Stepping into Thompson Chicago was an immediate reprieve from a stressful and hectic day. My flight had been delayed a few hours and it was unbearably hot outside. The lobby, decorated by British design icon Tara Bernerd, was incredibly welcoming! It featured warm wood, sophisticated bookshelves, sofa-like benches and armchairs that you could sink into after a long day. Bernerd’s British influence was heavily present in the overall sexy, masculine vibe of the lobby, which felt more like a hybrid of an elegant library and an intimate lounge. This vibe is very posh and my kind of aesthetic for a trendy, yet comfortable introduction to the hotel.
I checked into my corner room, which was much brighter and fresh than the vibe in the lobby—a slightly less masculine aesthetic, which I generally prefer for the room I stay in (if it’s too dark and cozy, I have a hard time getting out of bed the next morning). The room was incredibly spacious, with a stunning corner view of the city and a peek towards the beach at Lake Michigan.
I noticed the art pieces above the bed, which looked like a tattoo artist’s sketches of skulls, ravens and other provocative subjects. I later found out that the pieces were created by Wes Lang, an artist who has collaborated on projects with Kanye West.
The bathroom was spacious, with fresh, glossy-white tiled walls, industrial light fixtures, and the sexiest beauty-lighting I have ever seen… I could not resist the urge to take as many selfies as possible (seriously though, the lighting was outrageously flattering). I was in need of a bit of energy after my long day and checked out the minibar before I headed out to explore the city. Amongst all the delicious, gourmet-snack options, I opted for the gummy bears. As a candy aficionado, I am happy to report these were the best gummy bears I have ever had.
Later that night, when I returned to the hotel, I noticed that the bar area of the lobby was booming and I had to check it out. The crowd at Salone Nico consisted of well-dressed, 25 to 40ish year-olds who were having a social night out with friends. Even more magnetic than the social energy in Salone Nico was the towering living wall (one of two indoor living walls in Chicago) behind the bar, where mixologists were running back and forth creating artisan cocktails. Although tempted to spend the whole night mingling and lounging on the plush, velvet furniture, my bed was calling my name so I ended my evening early. I was pleasantly surprised at just how quiet the hotel was given the vibrant energy in the lobby-bar area.
The next morning, I did a quick tour of the facilities. Further adding to the social vibe of the hotel, I was guided to the second floor, where there was a semi-private, second bar that overlooked Salone Nico—a perfect spot for those wanting to host exclusive events, without losing the buzzing energy of a larger venue (and enjoy that stunning living wall).
As we continued our tour, I was inspired by the overwhelming presence of art at every turn in the hotel—even Murakami, an artist who has designed for Louis Vuitton, contributed pieces, adding to the overall artsy vibe of the property. On our way upstairs, I was led through the “secret stairway”, a staircase adorned with paintings created by Thompson Chicago’s employees and local artists.
I discovered that the property was not only a lovely hotel for tourists, but it would make an incredible off-site meeting, conference or team-building location for businesses. Conference rooms, which feature unobstructed views of the Gold Coast neighborhood and cozy workstations, were privately tucked away on the third and fourth floors.
The Thompson Chicago is more than just a luxury hotel. The staff and management have gone above and beyond to provide its patrons with unique experiences, designed to enhance the enjoyment of any visit to the Windy City. As an example, The Thompson Chicago City Summer Camp offers personalized running tours with Lululemon, ice cream crawls and shopping excursions with Salone Nico mixologists. The last option really caught my eye: you accompany a mixologist to buy local ingredients and learn how to make artisan cocktails (such a rare opportunity). In addition, the Thompson offers Jetlag packages to keep you fully energized for your visit and the VIP (Very Important Pups) packages for my fellow dog lovers.
By the end of my trip, I was very impressed by all the perks and amenities that this hotel had to offer. I had such a great time that I’m excited to check out other Thompson hotels in the future!