Following in the footstep of the legendary Essex Inn was not an easy task. Designed by A. Epstein and Sons and completed in 1961, that 14-story, 254-room modern hotel made of steel and glass served as an integral Chicago Landmark for over 60 years. One of the Aristocrat Inns of America chain, the Essex Inn also featured an impressive rooftop garden and pool set atop a huge (at the time) four-story, 200-car garage. And its meeting and event facilities were busy and highly rated.
The developers behind the original Essex Inn were Martin Gecht and Eugene Heytow, who believed that their hotel represented a “newness and informal atmosphere to travelers” that was what the modern traveler of that time was looking for. The parking garage presented a place for those who arrived in their own vehicle – a newer trend – to enjoy the convenience of onsite in-and-out parking. Luckily, Gecht and Heytow were right. The Essex Inn was an enormous success, grossing over a million dollars in the second half of 1961 alone – aided by the many visitors to popular Chicago-based conventions.
The Essex Inn held a truly iconic presence on Michigan Avenue, showcased by its unique rooftop signage and prime location only steps away from Grant Park. Purchased by Oxford Capital in 2014, that building has been lovingly converted through a 75-million-dollar makeover upping the number of rooms to 274 and creating a dramatic, new upscale lifestyle accommodation. The Essex 2.0 incorporates the very best elements of the original hotel, including the historic rooftop sign and the glass and steel façade to create a modern, luxury hotel designed for today’s contemporary travelers.
Unique design elements still give a nod to the building’s modern, mid-century beginning. Brushed brass accents, low-backed furniture, and sections of rich wood paneling lend a 1960’s “Mad Men” ambiance to the lobby, where the welcoming reception desk is reminiscent of a classic television credenza. The geometric motif also features an artsy, honeycombed bookshelf, with a frequent floral pattern incorporated within rugs and pillows to soften the effect.
Created as part of a larger project including a spectacular new high-rise apartment building next door, the hotel includes a French bistro, a small coffee shop bakery on the ground floor, and a chic and elegant new lounge, SX Sky Bar. Guests can still expect to enjoy the panoramic vistas of Grant Park and the lake, and with impressive and elegant modern details throughout, The Essex is now ahead of its time – again.
Discover the brand new Hotel Essex Chicago for yourself. Enjoy luxurious downtown accommodations offering magnificent views of Millennium Park, Grant Park, and the Museum Campus through fabulous floor-to-ceiling windows, along with first-class amenities and splendid on-site dining.
*Images courtesy Epstein Global.
We're in peak rooftop season here in Chicago and there is a fantastic lineup of exciting events & things to do coming to The Windy City over the next few months. Here is just a sample of reasons you should be here.
Our foodie friends are sure to love the Taste of Chicago on July 10-14 in Grant Park. 82 food vendors will showcase their delights and this year is especially diverse. All the foods plus beverage tents, concerts, food demos, and more. Once you digest that, Chicago Gourmet presented by Bon Appétit takes over the stage at Millennium Park on September 24-26. Let celebrity chefs present their fave dishes plus food & cocktail seminars and killer after parties.
Coming to McCormick Place for a conference? You may not know that McCormick Place is Chicago's premiere convention center. It's lakeside location and 4 state of the art buildings are the ideal location for some of the countries' largest conferences & events including the Chicago Marathon Health & Fitness Expo, Chicago Auto Show, and the Global Security Exchange. Coming here July 26-28 is Wakandacon. This inclusive, family-friendly event is driven by fans and celebrates Black nerds and all of their creativity and passions.
Rock & Roll Chicago Race Expo
Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago offers a Health & Fitness Expo running for two days before the big race. Participants must stop by to pick up their race packets including race number, gear bag, and t-shirt., but this event is free and open to the public. Browse the latest in running tech, best in fitness apparel, and plenty of health and nutrition information with interactive displays and sales booths. The event runs from July 19th through the 20th.
With 170+ bands & musical artists like The Chainsmokers, Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande, The Strokes and so many more, there is a concert for everyone. Experience this annual music extravaganza August 1 - 4 in Grant Park.
Stay at Hotel Essex and be minutes from all this and so much more to do here in downtown Chicago!
Chicago’s historic Soldier Field football stadium dates back to 1924 – making it the oldest NFL stadium in operation today. Cheer on the Chicago Bears (or their opponents if you dare), see national and international musicians in concert, or watch a live professional soccer match at this Chicago landmark. Completely renovated in 2003, the venue is now one of the most modern and fan-friendly arenas in the country. Conveniently situated in Grant Park just steps from the chic and contemporary Hotel Essex Chicago, Soldier Field is open year-round. Obviously, this is the perfect place to take in a game, but there are also plenty of other events and things to do here.
Trace the exciting history of this fabulous football stadium from its beginnings in 1924 through its modern 21st century renovation through film and then explore the stadium itself. See the South Courtyard, a gathering place for fans before and after events, offering concessions in a garden terrace setting. Benches lining the South Concourse wall feature relief images of leaves that represent fallen soldiers and have real Medals of Honor embedded into them to memorialize these veterans.
Stop by The Spirit of the American Doughboy statue, depicting a World War I infantryman as he advances across No Man's Land through barbed wire and tree stumps, rifle held firmly in one hand and grenade in the other. Your behind the scenes tour also includes the Visitor’s Locker Room, the Skyline Suite, and the Colonnades - iconic original columns from 1924 that have been preserved during every renovation. They are beautifully lit up with multi-colored LED lights each night.
For an extra special treat, take the VIP Tour, which allows you to enjoy field level views as you walk along 100 yards of the stadium’s Kentucky blue grass. Tours run year-round.
Cirque Du Soleil VOLTA
If you’ve never experienced Cirque du Soleil live for yourself, this is the perfect way to start. Held under the Big Top in the South Parking Lot, this high-energy, contemporary urban masterpiece is an enchanting voyage of discovery showcasing never-before-seen acrobatics. The story is set within a visually striking world and highlighted by a stirring melodic score. Inspired by the adventurous spirit fueling the street sports culture, VOLTA is a story of finding yourself and launching your own personal power. Runs May 18 - June 23, 2019.
The Rolling Stones No Filter Tour
The Rolling Stones. Two Nights Only. Don't miss this incredible opportunity to see these icons live. Get your tickets here!
This is just a taste of the many diverse events and activities you’ll find at Soldier Field. Looking for a fabulous new place to stay in Chicago? The stylish and hip Hotel Essex Chicago has ideal downtown accommodations just minutes from Soldier Field. Stay with us when you head in to the city for your next event.
Once upon a time, Chicago's Museum Campus was actually a group of separate attractions divided by the lanes of Lake Shore Drive, making it a challenge to reach the museums’ parking lots. In 1998, all of the interfering lanes were moved, and the four main parts of the Museum Campus – the Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field – were joined together by green open areas, making them easily accessible both individually and as a group. Here’s a quick overview of each to help you plan your visit.
Field Museum of Natural History
A longtime favorite, the Field Museum joined the area in 1921, thanks largely to sponsor Marshall Field. It offers an impressive collection of over twenty million natural, biological, anthropological, and historical specimens. It also plays hosts to popular temporary and touring temporary exhibits. Dinosaur lovers won’t want to miss Sue and Maximo, two museum favorites. Sue is the largest, best preserved, and most complete fossil of a Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. A newer addition and even more awe-inspiring, Maximo is a Titanosaur, a fossil of the largest dinosaur ever known to have lived. Other perennial favorites include the Evolving Planet, Underground Adventure, and Inside Ancient Egypt – where you can actually see what’s inside mummies.
Thanks to benefactor John G. Shedd, the incredibly popular Shedd Aquarium remains a major draw for Chicago’s residents and visitors and is ranked among the foremost aquariums in the US. The flagship is the gorgeous Caribbean Reef, a 90,000-gallon circular tank featuring sharks, stingrays, eels, a sea turtle, and a broad assortment of multicolored tropical fish. You can watch as a diver feed the fish by hand while questions via underwater microphone. The Oceanarium is equally remarkable, recreating the serene Pacific Northwest rain forest and offering soaring windows that overlook lovely Lake Michigan to help set the scene. Special attractions at the aquarium include private personalized tours, Shedd After Hours, and a variety of seasonal programs.
Created in 1930 by philanthropist Max Adler, the country’s very first planetarium remains one of its best. Featuring two large planetarium theaters, this masterpiece manages to both educate and remind visitors of the sheer magnificence of the universe beyond our Earth. The Doane Observatory here houses a huge aperture telescope with a 20-inch mirror gathering 5,000 times as much light as the eye. It’s the largest telescope open to the public in the area and is available for free viewing after museum hours on certain dates when the weather allows.
As most of the Museum Campus’ parking is situated beneath this stadium's vast spaceship shape, we’ve included it on our list. The water wall of the Veteran's Memorial to honor American soldiers is well worth walking by. The stadium is also the home of the Chicago Bears football team and RAM Racing's Soldier Field 10 Mile race.
If you’re planning to visit one of more of these attractions during your stay in Chicago, Hotel Essex Chicago offers the best new downtown accommodations available – situated mere minutes from the Museum Campus. Experience the many attractions of the Windy City with us!
Discover Chicago’s newest hotspot for drinks, dancing, and private events of all kinds. The brand-new Essex Hotel Chicago is a modern masterpiece – and our crowning jewel may just be the multilevel lounge, SX Sky Bar, which the hotel shares with the Essex on the Park apartment building next door. This impressive lounge’s glass walls on the fifth and sixth floors showcase views of Grant Park and the lake – and can be fully retracted in warmer months to provide fresh air and even clearer vistas.
The swanky SX Sky Bar is designed around bi level hangout areas that have already become popular with locals and visitors to Chicago alike. The swanky space on the sixth floor has its own entrance via elevator directly from Michigan Avenue. Enjoy delicious craft cocktails and small plates served during lunch, dinner and into the late hours. The famed former sous chef of LondonHouse, Christopher Suzuki, is now head of SX Sky Bar’s fabulous kitchen, offering a collection of classic California shareables and sushi from 2:00 pm until closing time.
Bright velvet booths and plush, oversized thrones – adorned with birds and featuring footstools for those who need them – join together with richly colored walls of red, green and glass to create an imaginative atmosphere perfect for festivity and relaxation. Find the door marked VIP with the 9-foot-long beaded light fixture floating over the stairway. This takes you down to the technopop-inspired dance floor and smaller rooms available for one-of-a-kind private events. A live DJ pumps up the jam nightly within the hip and happening atmosphere, as lights from above project images on the classic poured concrete dance floor. For fun and entertainment long into the night, this is definitely the spot. It’s a distinctive venue that is lounge, bar, nightclub – and impressive event space, combined.
Discover the brand new Hotel Essex Chicago for yourself. Enjoy downtown accommodations offering magnificent views of Millennium Park, Grant Park, and the Museum Campus through floor-to-ceiling windows, along with first-class amenities and splendid onsite dining.
Offering an endless, internationally famous array of attractions and events, Chicago’s two most popular parks are both less than a mile from the Hotel Essex. Grant Park is known by many as Chicago’s front yard, 300 acres of glorious green space featuring busy baseball fields, lovely gardens, public artworks, and top attractions. Millennium Park ranks as the second biggest tourist attraction in all of Illinois, offering impressive public art, a gorgeous bandshell auditorium, a manicured garden, a playful fountain, and much more.
Grant Park Music Festival
For over 80 years, since their start in the 1930’s, symphonic concerts were a staple of Grant Park’s cultural scene. In 1944, the Grant Park Orchestra was formed, followed in 1962 by the Grant Park Chorus. While originally held in Grant Park itself, the festival moved to the acoustically and architecturally impressive Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in 2004, where it continues to present an incredible ten-week season of concerts, artistic events, and radio broadcasts.
Art & Architecture at Millennium Park
Millennium Park offers one of the most impressive public collections of art in the world. Start at the iconic Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean.” This imposing reflective oval of polished stainless steel provides a quirky mirror image of the city’s skyline and the park’s visitors as they walk by and through this awesome artifact. Nearby, the Crown Fountain features two fifty-foot towers of glass block at the ends of a shallow reflecting pool, each projecting video images collected from a spectrum of 1000 of Chicago’s citizens. Stroll through the Boeing Galleries displaying modern and contemporary artwork of living artists at both the north and south sides of the Park. Another impressive work is the Millennium Monument, an almost full-sized replica of the peristyle that stood in the park from 1917 to 1953. Finally, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge, both designed by Frank Gehry, are truly jaw-dropping displays of deconstructivist architecture that offer incredible acoustic design.
Once a swampy marsh, Chicago is now known for its impressive gardens – and Lurie Garden in Millennium Park is one of its finest. This five-acre award-winning stretch of breathtaking botanical landscaping offers more than 250 varieties of spring perennials and bulbs, a dramatic summer hedge that lights up at night, and lovely ornamental grasses that capture winter snow and ice, turning them into natural works of art. The garden is also home to over 60 different species of birds over the various seasons.
A popular attraction year-round, this fantastic fountain features four art deco seahorses of beautiful Georgia pink marble. Starting in May and running through Labor Day, 20-minute shows each hour feature 14,000 gallons of water that spout from 133 separate jets. On summer nights, colored light shows end with the center jet shooting water 150 feet up in the air. Winter brings a holiday light and music show that is no less fabulous, even without the water.
Discover the chic, all new Hotel Essex Chicago. Our innovative contemporary hotel offers the ideal accommodations in downtown within easy reach of the many Grant Park and Millennium Park must-dos – all year long. We look forward to welcoming you to the Windy City!