Guest post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein

When my friend said, “I found a great hotel deal in Chicago,” it took me all of two seconds to agree to the road trip. Our one night stay at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel near the Magnificient Mile and Chicago’s downtown added a dose of festive to our pre-holiday hoopla weekend.

The Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel is a beauty. First opened in 1927, this historic hotel offers the aura of days gone by while embracing modern tastes. The gothic-inspired architecture does a splendid job of creating the feeling that one is in for a special stay from the hotel’s entrance to the reception check-in counter.

Above the bar, the mural on the wall is reminiscent of the time when Al Capone’s brother ran a casino on the Penthouse floor. Famous people from John F. Kennedy to the Rolling Stones have stayed here. These days, families with kids and couples dressed for a day on the town are among those who sweep though the lobby or mingle while they wait for others to join them before venturing out.

Even though we were mere tourists with teenagers looking for big city lights and some shopping, staff treated us quite well. It didn’t matter that we arrived before check-in and looked bedraggled from our 7-hour drive. We left our luggage with the bellman before heading to brunch at Francesca’s a few blocks away. The person at the check-in desk recommended this Italian restaurant located in the Seneca Hotel for its food quality and price. My brunch choice, Salmone Affumicato–smoked salmon, capers, arugula and goat cheese was superb.

Once our room was ready, check-in was a breeze. Our two double bed room was roomier than expected. Although our view wasn’t much, we liked the decor. The decor reflected the airiness of the 1920s as if Daisy Gatsby had just stepped out. My friend coveted the armchair with its pink checked fabric.

The bathroom, with its expansive granite counters and walk-in shower, was the biggest hit.

A double bed room

The hair-dryer, coffee-tea set up, and smart TV were used and appreciated. We did have a strong, “Absolutely not,” reaction to the teenagers’ request to have a snack from the minibar. I was tempted myself, but we kept the drawer and fridge firmly closed. The prices would have undone our budget.

The lounge connected to the bar

During our stay which was mostly spent exploring Chicago, I did take time to explore the hotel. I was most impressed by the lounge towards the back of the Martini Bar. The plush, elegant furniture paired with bookshelves of reading material made for a great place to hang out while enjoying a glass of wine or a signature cocktail.

Although breakfast isn’t included in the room rate, Nix Restaurant is an option to consider for its creative, American cuisine. Although, do what we did and head to Chinatown on the Red Line for dimsum.

Nix Restaurant serves up breakfast and lunch

Speaking of Chinatown. That’s where we parked our car. Parking in the lot at the Red Line Chinatown stop is $15 for 24 hours. If you get your parking ticket validated at a Chinatown restaurant or shop, three hours are only $2. Thus, we paid $17  to park during our 27 hour Chicago excursion. If we had parked at the hotel we would have paid about $60.

The Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel’s location is within walking distance of the Water Tower Place Mall with its stores and eateries and an easy bus ride to Millennium Park and elsewhere.

Room rates currently range from $89 for a standard room to $441.75 for the Knickerbocker Suite. My friend booked the room through Priceline. Or book directly through the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel’s website. There you will find package deals.