The Peninsula Chicago

Review of The Peninsula Chicago review by Varun Sharma

Expectations are always high on a visit to a Peninsula property. The group has a proud heritage as one of the world’s oldest luxury hotel companies. The 339-room, 20-storey Chicago property is no exception, and it is constantly ranked as one of the finest in the Windy City. 

The property has long been admired for its elegance and has been showered with awards since it opened in 2001.  With exceptional and thoughtful Asian – the group is based in Hong Kong - service at its core, The Peninsula Chicago features four restaurants and bars, a rooftop pool with superlative city views, a state-of-the-art gym and a 1,394 square metre (15,000 square feet) Spa. There is even a bespoke BMW or MINI Cooper S Clubman available for transport or city tours. 

A hotel to see and be seen in, The Peninsula comes into its own in the holiday season with eye-catching, ornate festive decorations and boasting Chicago’s only hotel skating rink, opening up every November, four stories above Michigan Avenue. 

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Chicago is one of the largest cities in America and is known for its bold architecture with a skyline punctuated by skyscrapers including 875 North Michigan Avenue - the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower, the Wrigley Building and the superb & unique neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, former home of the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

Situated in the heart of the business district – The Loop - at the corner of Michigan Avenue and East Superior Street, The Peninsula Chicago is part of the Magnificent Mile of high-end shopping.  Saks lies directly opposite the hotel entrance and almost every other luxury retailer is within a ten-minute walk away. Indeed, the ground floor of the property is home to Tiffany’s.  

Popular with tourists, the hotel is just steps from the historic Water Tower and the Millennium Park, Lake Michigan is a few blocks east and it is a gentle 15-minute stroll to Oak Street Beach. The Art Institute of Chicago – one of the oldest and largest art museums in America - is around seven minutes away and features some of the most important and iconic artworks in modern art. Works on show include Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Wood’s American Gothic. The Navy Pier is a similar distance away with the nearest L Station a five-minutes walk. 

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport – a hub for American Airlines, United Airlines and Spirit Airlines - is a sixty minute drive away.



The Peninsula Chicago features 339 spacious guest rooms and suites with large picture windows overlooking the city. Residential in feel, classical in style with clean lines and a refined colour palette of cream, gold and navy with Asian touches, each room is equipped with a state-of-the-art electronic system that allows users to control everything in the room from the touch on an iPad. The marble bathrooms are similarly technically advanced with an inset television, mood lighting and spa music. 

Thoughtful touches abound with an executive desk complete with a printer, scanner and fax hidden away in a desk drawer; a window-side table for two for in-room dining, custom Pratesi linens, large-screen televisions - complete with soundbars and a Nutrition Centre with the ubiquitous Nespresso served in exclusive Bernardaud china. Check-in and out can be flexible when booking with the Peninsula Time programme and the hotel will also guarantee connecting rooms and suites on request. The bathroom amenities are even more unique. The brand has recently worked with designer Oscar de la Renta to create an exclusive range of bespoke fragrances for each property within the group by working with artisanal perfumers who reside in the hotel’s home cities – a nice touch.

Regarding the premium accommodation, a number of the Executive Suites occupy corner locations in the hotel and offer three different viewing perspectives over bustling Michigan Avenue, Rush Street or Chicago Avenue. Of note are the lovely Junior Suites – now called Michigan Avenue Suites – for an obvious reason!

There are three exceptional suites. The Lake and Water Tower suites each feature a large reception area, two bedrooms, two marble bathrooms, a powder room, two dressing rooms and a dining room for six. The suites enjoy sweeping views of the Windy City on the North, East and South sides of the building. There’s a home theatre in the living room and a kitchenette adjacent to the dining room. For added security both suites can be blocked off from the rest of the hotel. 

The Peninsula Suite – recently refurbished - meanwhile is situated on the 18th floor of the hotel and features an unbeatable 2,000 square-foot (186 square metre) wraparound terrace with stunning views over Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. There is even a baby grand piano in this light-flooded suite which can convert from a one to a three-bedroom accommodation. The entire wing can easily be blocked off for additional privacy.

There are also 14 accessible rooms including one suite.

Service & Facilities


The 19th and 20th floors of the Peninsula Chicago are home to the 15,000 sq feet (1,394 square metre) Peninsula Spa which offers a wide range of both modern and timeless beauty treatments, a yoga room, an exercise studio and eucalyptus steam rooms. The facilities are augmented with an indoor half-Olympic length swimming pool with stunning floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Chicago’s skyline. Other facilities include a fully equipped Fitness Centre which even features Peloton Spin Bikes. The outdoor sundeck serves health-conscious spa cuisine. 

This is a very family friendly hotel with its Peninsula Kids programme including activities like baking with the chef, video games being set up in advance in room and even a visit by Peter Bear and his treat-filled wagon. Expect age-appropriate bath amenities, welcome gifts of Peninsula treats and pint-sized bathrobes and slippers. 

For those who would like to investigate Chicago’s tourist sites, the concierge desk offers the Keys to the City programme. This offers a unique entrée to Chicago’s best and most popular attractions. The team can also arrange sightseeing tours in the hotel’s bespoke BMW or MINI Cooper S Clubman. The Peninsula Academy programme is perfect for guests with time on their hands. Why not become a hotel florist for a day, take a river boat cruise to see Chicago’s architecture at its best or take a guided tour of Chicago’s historic neighbourhoods?

In the winter festive season, November sees the opening of a small rooftop ice skating rink – The Peninsula Sky Rink – Chicago’s only hotel skating rink. It is sited adjacent to the hotel’s Shanghai Terrace restaurant and four stories above Michigan Avenue.

The Peninsula group is renowned for providing excellent service. You would be hard-pressed to see any difference in the service provided at the group’s flagship property Peninsula Hong Kong and the property in Chicago. It is simply wonderful. 



With its architecture inspired by Peninsula’s famous flagship property in Hong Kong, the interiors too – particularly the Lobby - are also reminiscent of the Hong Kong hotel.  

This is a sophisticated, stylish hotel full of unexpected touches and features. Since it opened, it has remained at the top of the tree for luxury hotels based on its service ethic, its fantastic location and its stunning design flair – Chicago Chic with a touch of Asian flair.

The views, the rooftop pool and terraces overlooking the city, the stylish, understated style of the bedrooms, the gadgets – these are the things that gladden the heart of any luxury hotel professional. 2021 saw its 20th anniversary – long may she reign.

Restaurants & Bars


There are four restaurants and bars at The Peninsula Chicago.

The Z Bar is a popular rooftop offering located high above Michigan Avenue with amazing views over the city from the rooftop terrace. Expect delicious and innovative cocktails and a bold menu which showcases global flavours to a background of live music. The bar is named after Maria Zec - Regional Vice President and General Manager, The Peninsula Chicago. She was the first female General Manager of a Peninsula Group property and indeed she has been instrumental in making Peninsula Chicago one the most revered hotels in America. 

The Shanghai Terrace restaurant meanwhile offers Cantonese delicacies and dim sum amidst a 1930s supper club setting leading out onto a spacious outdoor terrace. The restaurant is arguably the finest Chinese restaurant in Chicago. 

Pierrot Gourmet on the street level is popular with shoppers seeking to replenish energies spent hard at work in the nearby boutiques.  It has the more casual feel of a European-style café with a farmhouse style design and a menu based on simple yet satisfying French bistro cuisine. 

Last - but certainly not least - is the most glamorous option of The Lobby with its 20 foot-high floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Terrace. This pillared space is sumptuously decorated yet with a restrained palette and offers a contemporary American menu served throughout the day. 


The Peninsula Hotel Group aims to deliver the highest standards of luxury in a responsible and sustainable way where they can.

Initiatives include - responsibly sourcing seafood, tea, coffee and chocolate, transitioning away from single use plastics, sourcing most of its woodwork and furniture when refurbishing from sustainably managed forests, using wallcoverings that feature 10% recycled content and water-based inks for improved, indoor air quality, using energy efficient lighting, using eco-friendly cleaning solutions and low temperature laundry, using materials and paints with low VOC to maintain indoor air quality and finally, using where possible Green Label Plus certified carpets made from wool rather than nylon.

What We Love

  • The wonderful welcomes and sad farewells. From the Door-staff to the General Manager, the Peninsula Chicago team work seamlessly to make every guest feel important and cosseted in love & warmth.
  • The swimming pool. It’s long, it’s a perfect temperature and it’s never too busy. An ideal spot to gear up for a busy day or indeed wind down after a busy day!
  • The views – the views! From either the Z Bar rooftop terrace and the Spa on the 20th floor – you can look down to street level, across to Lake Michigan and up to the skyscrapers. Magnificent.

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • Z Bar - Z Bar is a rooftop destination that celebrates the city with spectacular views of the Magnificent Mile. Opened June 2018 and is located 6 ½ floors above street level, allowing guests to be immersed in the energy of the city around them. Our goal was to create a one-of-a-kind experience featuring internationally inspired cocktails and global cuisine, with curated music in an upbeat atmosphere. 
  • The Peninsula Chicago colleagues - The hotel celebrates our 20th anniversary in 2021 and we are honoured that 20% of our staff have been with us since the very beginning.  Our staff genuinely cares about our guests – in fact our colleagues are the primary reason our guests return. 
  • Shanghai Terrace – I am a big fan of the cuisine and experience at Shanghai Terrace. Chef Elmo Han’s menu features traditional Shanghainese and Cantonese dishes with a modern twist. This intimate restaurant setting is reminiscent of a 1930’s Shanghai supper club. 

    Maria Zec
    Regional Vice President and General Manager
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