Agent review: Pendry Chicago, United States

By Linsey McNeill
28/03/2023
Home » Agent review: Pendry Chicago, United States

As an architecture and history buff, travel consultant Annika Nickson had always wanted to stay in Chicago’s Art Deco Carbide & Carbon Building, now the Pendry Hotel, and a recent visit to a friend in the city gave her the perfect excuse.

First Impressions?

Built in 1929 during Prohibition, the Burnham Brothers designed the building to look like a champagne bottle with a dark green terracotta and gold accented tower sitting atop a black granite, marble and bronze trim base.

Designated a Chicago Landmark in 1996, it used to be a Hard Rock Hotel but Pendry took it over a couple of years ago.

The location on Michigan Avenue is spot on, with the Chicago River a block to the north and Millennium Park (where you’ll find the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, ‘The Bean’) two blocks to the south.

The lift lobby entrance on Michigan Avenue is a stunning Art Deco masterpiece, with intricate bronze work lift doors and a cream marble interior. The main hotel lobby is off East Wacker Place, with a comfortable seating area and Bar Pendry adjacent – a destination in itself. 

On check-in you get a free drink, which, in a nod to the building’s prohibition history, is spiked at the bar after you’ve given a secret password! 

The Room

I was staying in a Tower One Bedroom Suite (3003), with stunning views of the river looking west. The views up Michegan Avenue to the north are partially blocked by a new building, but thanks to the reflective glass you do get a beautiful view of the top of the Pendry in its gold leaf glory.

The room itself was a beautiful blend of chic and modern with an Art Deco nod. The space felt light and airy with room for a dining and seating area. The mostly-monochrome colouring with gold touches brought out the Art Deco vibe without feeling themed.

The food and drink

We were lucky enough to sample most of the restaurant and bar offerings at the Pendry, although our trip sadly coincided with some building work to expand the rooftop bar, Château Carbide – we look forward to trying that on another trip.

On the ground floor and next to the reception area, sits Bar Pendry. This is an intimate space which felt cosy with a double-sided fireplace, plush furnishings and heavy drapery – a Chicago style bar ‘made new’. The vibe was welcoming and cool, but not intimidating. We didn’t sample the food here but did manage a few of the cocktails – we’d recommend the Old Fashioned!

The main restaurant is Venteaux, a French brasserie-style restaurant with a German chef (great for the Alsace dishes!). We shared a tarte flambé for starters which was the best we’ve sampled outside the Alsace region, followed by a generous and tasty bouillabaisse for me and a steak frites for my partner. We were too full for dessert sadly, but the cocktails were on point here too. Again, the vibe was cool without being intimidating.

In front of the Venteaux and directly off Michigan Avenue is a beautifully decorated cafe with high ceilings. Our one criticism is thanks to the popularity of this space with passing traffic, we were never able to get a spot to sit down and eat here and instead were only able to get takeout. However, this did force our hand to try the amazing in-room dining, which is available day or night. We had breakfast delivered to our room on our final day – my partner had the full breakfast and I had the eggs benedict (a holiday tradition) with a twist – pork belly instead of ham, which was perfectly crispy and delicious.

Accessibility

Pendry Chicago has rooms, studios and suites offering adapted features such as accessible bathrooms and lowered features, including the deadbolt lock, thermostat and bed. All accessible accommodation has sensory notifications and emergency alarms.

Family friendly?

The corner one-bedroom suite is best for families as you can close off the king bedroom from the living room area, which has a sofa bed, plus there are two bathrooms.

Who would you sell to?

I would sell this to customers who are looking for somewhere a bit special, but who don’t want to go to the top end of the luxury scale.

It markets itself as a luxury hotel with a boutique feel, so it appeals to people who like somewhere with a bit of character – one nice touch is the billiard room where people can relax. It’s definitely not somewhere that makes you feel uncomfortable if dressing casual.

If your client is after a great location, a hotel with a bit of character and pizzazz, and somewhere that feels like you’re having a special trip, this is definitely a place I’d recommend. 

How to book

Several UK operators feature Pendry Chicago, including Elegant Resorts and If Only.

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