Home ReviewsHotels and Resorts Kimpton Hotel Monaco: Chicago’s Hip Renovated Hat Factory

Kimpton Hotel Monaco: Chicago’s Hip Renovated Hat Factory

by Jan Schroder
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago living room

Sometimes walking into a hotel is like stepping onto a movie set. Every detail is color-coordinated. The lobby exudes a quiet, sophisticated mood. And sometimes, if you’re lucky – as you will be at the newly renovated Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago ­– you can take part in the next scene.

Walking inside the revolving door offered an immediate respite from the blustery Windy City during my December visit. Hotel staff promptly greeted me and gave the rundown of amenities. Though the check-in desk is front-and-center from the entrance, it was the lobby to my right that beckoned.

Candles in glass lanterns flanked the flickering gas fireplace. A hat rack decked in pastel haberdashery paid homage to the building’s past as the D.B. Fisk & Co. Hat Company. More sophisticated living room than traditional sterile vestibule, the lobby included cozy seating arrangements in pretty vintage fabrics like blue-green and dusky rose velvet.

I didn’t know it then, but the lobby would become like a second home and workspace during my two-night stay. Despite my room’s happy yellow-and-teal decor, the lobby fireplace was too tempting to stay upstairs.

At first, I couldn’t put my finger on why the hotel felt like a perfect set, like a place where something beautiful and artistic was about to happen. Only later, during the nightly complimentary wine hour, would I realize I’d stepped into a classy cocktail party reminiscent of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

A stay at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago room

My stay at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago was squeezed between two other December trips. Braving Chicago’s crowds the week of Christmas isn’t on my list of favorite things, but the hotel was a haven of thoughtfully designed comfort.

I stayed in an eclectic king deluxe room. The bright yellow headboard, hatbox bar cart, and coat hooks shaped like golden hands delighted me from the start. The ceilings were high.

The room included an entire desk corner, complete with vintage artwork that looked like it belonged in a charming bed and breakfast. Mismatched metal lamps on either side of the bed added to my impression that the rooms are not anonymous, cookie-cutter designs. Every little bit of atmosphere was intentional.

My room had a standard-sized shower with refillable toiletries. Some guests might prefer miniature take-home bottles of shampoo and conditioner, but I appreciated Kimpton’s sustainable approach. A citrus-scented bar of soap at the sink was mine to keep.

The renovated Kimpton Monaco Chicago’s rooms have giant bay windows. Guests on the waterfront side of the hotel enjoy views of the river. Their windows also include giant window seats with colorful pillows for lounging.

Unfortunately, my room was on the back side of the hotel. While I could have sat on the cold, extra-wide window ledge, my views were of blank brick city walls. This is an unavoidable aspect of the hotel, which has no control over its surroundings. But if you prefer a room with a view and extra seating, be sure to request a waterfront room or suite.

Walk to waterfront, theater from a premier location

Room at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago with river view

Some rooms have amazing views of the Chicago River.

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago is one of several boutique hotels near Chicago’s waterfront. A sister hotel, the Kimpton Hotel Allegro, isn’t far down the road. The Hotel Monaco is a great choice for business or leisure travelers who want to be in the heart of the city. It’s within walking distance of shopping, the riverfront, and even views of the lake.

For theatergoers, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago is close enough to walk to productions without getting lost in the pre-show crowds.

The hotel is across the street from the Emerald Loop Bar & Grill, a perfect casual solution for afternoon nibbles or late-night drinks.

Enjoy additional amenities, including daily wine hour

The hotel has a very small gym made available to guests via key cards. Additional amenities include in-room spa service, a yoga mat in each room and complimentary shoeshine service.

By far the best amenity at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago is the daily wine hour. It’s difficult to describe the celebratory vibe of this evening gathering in the lobby. All around me, friends perched on couches or velvet chairs, catching up on life over glasses of free-flowing red or white wine. A family reunited near the fireplace.

From across the room, it looked like sparks flew between two solo travelers near the wine table. If the lobby had truly been designed for cinematic scenes, the actors had finally arrived.

Dine at Fisk & Co. any meal of the day

dining area at Fisk & Co.

Fisk & Co. specializes in craft beer, mussels and delicious frites.

I ate lunch at Fisk & Co., a trendy, upscale seafood pub attached to the hotel. The space is known for its craft beer and raw bar, though I was tempted by the craft pommes frites and Seedlip-infused mocktails. Around me, several groups of business professionals met for lunch.

Later in the evening, when I returned for a second helping of truffle-parmesan frites, I sat at the oyster bar and noted the buzzy evening crowd. Patrons noshed on mussels and mains such as warm buttered lobster rolls and crab campanelle.

Fisk & Co. serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Happy hour takes place from 4-6 PM on weekdays, and the bar stays open until 10 PM on weeknights – 11PM on weekends. I was disappointed to learn there are no dining options in the hotel from 2-4 in the afternoons, but the wait for happy hour was worth it in the end.

During that afternoon slot – before the complimentary wine hour and dinner – oysters cost a dollar a pop. Drink specials are also on rotation.

Leandra Beabout is an Indiana-based travel journalist and content writer who contributes to publications such as Fodor’s Travel, and The Everygirl.

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