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Curtain Up: Where to Stay for Your Chicago Theater Getaway

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Dec 17, 2018
The Chicago Theatre
The Chicago Theatre  (Source:Getty Images)

Frank Sinatra said it was "my kind of town" and who could blame him? Chicago is brimming with culture and cuisine, and while most people think "the Second City" got its nickname from playing second fiddle to New York, it's actually derived from the rebuilding after The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. From that tragedy came a city reborn, which also laid the groundwork (literally and figuratively) for the modern skyscraper.

Earlier this fall Mayor Rahm Emanuel dubbed 2019 as the Year of Chicago Theater. Depending on whom you ask, the city has upwards of 200 theaters, ranging from Tony Award-winning regional theaters like the Goodman and Steppenwolf to storefront locales scattered throughout the city's vibrant neighborhoods. Over the past decade, The Loop (Chicago's city center where all of the various train lines converge) has seen a resurgence of restorations and re-openings, including the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Oriental Theatre (to be renamed the James M. Nederlander in February 2019), and others.

A Chicago theater weekend (or week — there's enough to fill seven days!) is convenient and easily accessible by staying at a nearby hotel, such as the Kimpton Hotel Allegro or Kimpton Gray Hotel. The brand has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community since its founding in San Francisco in 1981. Its ongoing partnership with The Trevor Project helps fund the nonprofit's suicide prevention and social service endeavors for LGBTQ youth. Now that's worthy of a standing a ovation.


Kimpton Hotel Allegro
Kimpton Hotel Allegro  

Kimpton Hotel Allegro

Art deco reigns supreme at the Kimpton Hotel Allegro. The historic property dates back to 1926 and was renovated in 2015 to its original grandeur. Don't be deterred by its nondescript ground floor entrance. A brass-railed staircase leads to the stunning lobby featuring crystal cut amber light fixtures, a tufted turquoise round settee to people watch, and rich earth tone accent colors throughout, though all eyes will be drawn to "Lady Lucent of Awakening," artist Sarah Raskey's mixed media canvas featuring Swarovski crystals and vintage jeweled embellishments.

Bar Allegro is an ideal spot to convene post-show, which couldn't be easier if you're headed to the adjacent Cadillac Palace Theatre. Upcoming shows include "Miss Saigon" (through December 8), "Fiddler on the Roof" (December 18 - January 6), "Kinky Boots" (January 22-27), and the city's namesake musical "Chicago" (May 7-12). Complimentary pre-show bubbly is also offered at the top of those Insta-worthy stairs.


Chicago is a food town and you don't need to travel far to partake. The onsite restaurant 312 Chicago (named after the city's original area code) offers regional Italian fare such as tortellini in brodo, a classic dish from the Emilia-Romagna region, or cacciucco, a fish stew that references Liguria and Tuscany.

When the day is done, settle into cozy accommodations, and with 483 rooms and suites, there is something to suit every style and budget. All rooms feature Atelier Bloem luxury bath products, created especially for Kimpton by Malin+Goetz. For those looking for wow factor, inquire about the King Suite with Jacuzzi. Don't forget to peek in your closet for a yoga mat, as your television will likely be set to a gentle yoga session during turndown service.


The Kimpton Gray Hotel
The Kimpton Gray Hotel  

The Kimpton Gray Hotel

Just a few blocks away, the Kimpton Gray Hotel (named after the Georgia gray marble that appears throughout) offers its own bit of Chicago history. Built in 1894 as the New York Life Insurance Building, the 12-story skyscraper of its time was an architectural phenomenon. An additional floor was added in 1903, and today the hotel boasts 293 rooms and suites.

Global architecture and design firm Gensler helped preserve the landmark building while still imbuing it with contemporary flair. The limestone, granite and terracotta fa├žade has been meticulously restored while the property's operational infrastructure takes 21st-century sustainability into consideration with recyclable, locally sourced materials, water use reduction, and energy efficient design. Los Angeles-based design firm Beleco created gorgeous design elements that honor the hotel's history while still possessing sleek modernity.

Chicago's culinary prowess is at its prime at Steadfast, one of the hotel's three on-site restaurants. Executive Chef Ender Oktayruen and Executive Pastry Chef Christopher Teixeira combine forces for a hyper-seasonal, elevated New American menu that balances technique and whimsy for an array of unexpected dishes. The homemade artisan breads are a must (goat milk butter, anyone?). A recent fall tasting menu included innovative preparations such as a baby gem Caesar salad with dried egg yolk, filet mignon with a gochujang chile reduction, and foie gras-topped banana bread.


Take in some local entertainment at the award-winning Goodman Theatre. Dating back to 1922, it is the city's oldest and largest nonprofit theater and boasts dozens of accolades including the Regional Theatre Tony Award (1992). Season highlights include Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Sweat" (March 9 - April 14) and the highly anticipated revival of "The Music Man" (June 29 - August 4) directed by Mary Zimmerman.

For more information on Chicago's theater scene, click here.


Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


Autumn 2018

This story is part of our special report titled "Autumn 2018." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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