Hiya traveling ladies!
Don’t you just love staying at new hotels? I do! So when Living Social had a deal on the new Ian Schrager Hotel PUBLIC in Chicago, I bought it! One of my best friends Robert lives in Chicago and I knew I would be visiting soon. And last week, I got my chance!
I arrived on a Thursday night and decided to stay at the hotel since Robert had to work late and I am usually crabby after getting off the cramped, disgusting plane and I usually need some serious downtime to recover. I got into a cab and off we went into rush-hour traffic. It was sprinkling out and I saw the most gorgeous rainbow – truly a sign that Chicago was welcoming me!
The hotel is on North State Parkway, right in the heart of downtown and blocks from Michigan Avenue and Magnificent Mile. The cab driver told me it used to be the Ambassador. It was an old, cool building with a nice big entrance outside so you drove up to pretty lights. Everyone was attentive and nice and very good-looking! I checked in and admired the cool lobby. It seemed busy but not too crazy. My room was way at the end away from the elevator, which I appreciated. Late night revelers departing and arriving can make my night’s sleep unbearable. Now I review the most important aspects of a hotel stay:
DÉCOR AND CLEANLINESS – nothing worse than feeling like you might want to keep your socks on or sleep in your coat! I recall checking into a Bungalow at the Chateau Marmont in L.A. (very fancy) and being extremely grossed out by the brown shag carpet that looked like it had been there since the 70s (I think it had). Of course, PUBLIC is brand-spanking new so everything was pristine and lovely. Ian Schrager has a way with sleek, slick, clean décor and this stood up to his reputation. I particularly liked the sheepskin on the chair which gave it a cozy touch (you can get them at Ikea for $25.). The lighting was perfect, especially the cool runway lighting along the headboard and behind the desk console. The bathroom sink was nice and big, the shower was basic. The room layout was streamlined so you felt you had space to move around while still having places to put everything. The bedding was fab and pillows were fluffy.
WATER PRESSURE – This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves! I have to say that the water pressure at PUBLIC was horrific!! The shower was a drip and I stood there shivering, wondering if my hair would ever get all the shampoo out. Same for the sink – a dribble. Too bad. It really puts me in a bad mood.
NOISE – You can stay at a 5-star hotel but if it’s noisy, you are miserable. No way around it. The noise level at PUBLIC was perfect. I didn’t hear a thing. I do think some of it had to do with the fact that I was the last room in a corner but I also didn’t hear anyone above me which is key.
For dinner, I looked at the room service menu, and to be honest, it was pretty sparse. A burger or a Caesar salad or a basic pasta. Not great choices.
So I decided to grab a taxi and go to an Indian place called CUMIN that got awarded one of the best new restaurants for 2011 by Chicago Magazine. It is a little storefront pace with very warm, cozy interior. I hate eating by myself. I always think people are looking at me thinking “Aww, that poor women has no friends!” But I told myself to buck up and be ballsy and just go eat. The food was DELICIOUS!!! I loved the appetizer – A Samosa Chaat. It was so good, I could have eaten 3 more. Then I had Chicken Tikka Masala – it is my “go to” dish at any Indian restaurant and is my Litmus test for how the food is. It was delicious, however it was not spicy at all and I had asked for medium spicy. I was surprised that it had no kick. I had to ask them to bring some chili powder out to give it a little oomph.
Back at the hotel, I was going to stop at the bar and get a drink but it was a madhouse! Way too busty for me. I asked the Concierge if it was always like this and he said they were having a private party in the Pump Room (their main bar) so that was overflowing into the lobby bar. I opted out of that craziness and went up to my room to watch bad television.
The next morning, I ordered room service. They only have this PUBLIC EXPRESS offer. It is a no delivery charge, quick service that is supposed to streamline your breakfast. I love Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s food and this didn’t sound like the gourmet meal that he would represent. But I ordered anyways. Oatmeal with dried fruit, tea and juice. It did come in lightning speed, in a brown bag. As I stood for a moment staring at the bag, I couldn’t decide if it was brilliant or tacky. I’m not kidding. I still can’t decide. On the one hand, it is convenient, fast, and has no big table and a ton of dishes to mess around with. On the other hand, it was not very upscale or pampering of an experience. I fished my breakfast out in its plastic containers and ate my meal with as plastic spoon. Not very gourmet if you ask me. The oatmeal was delicious however.
I packed up and my friend Robert picked me up. Overall, I give PUBLIC two thumbs up!
More on Chicago and my visit with Robert tomorrow!!