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.
hotel essex ... reinventing an icon
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