Sometimes it is colours that distinguish one luxury hotel from another. Take The Peninsula Chicago, coming up to its 15th birthday. As always, the gal takes the elevator up from the ground floor to the main reception: exit elevator, walk along a heavenly honey-marbled promenade flanked by giant vitrines, four to your left, two to your right, showing jewels and other valuables. Yes, at the far end, behind the concierges, you still have a 1930s allegorical wall mural, Gérard Coltat‘s liberal interpretation of Chicago at that time. But turn your head left, now, to your eleven o’clock and you see this breathtaking embroidery on silk work, and yes, the little bee is part of the art. There is a similar panel, about eight feet high by ten across, in my suite, 1509.
Chrysanthemums and bee are part of my suite’s new-look, designed by Bill Rooney, he who is also working with The Peninsula New York, and the art, or do I call it silk embroidery, is on one side wall, behind a dark-stone sofa that would seat four with ease. Of course I love the fact that Chicago, like other Peninsulas, now has its inroom digital displays in 11 languages, and telephone calls, worldwide, are free. I love the ripple patterns on plush carpets and Pratesi linens, both a reminder of the lake a few blocks away. I love the whole look (particularly since the pale beige overall colouring is so complemented by real flowers). Bill Rooney chose the chrysanthemum not only because this is Chicago’s city flower, but also one of the key quartet of Chinese flowers – and he sent suites’ silk to be embroidered in China (basic rooms have the same pattern, but not embroidered). The bee will be subject of a lot of story-telling at this imaginative hotel.
Take the thought that went into composing cocktails, enjoyed out on the Shanghai Terrace – which becomes a skating rink in winter. From left to right we have a Cucumber Martini, with Hendrick’s, cucumber, ginger syrup and lime; and a Long Jing Green Tea Mojito with Bacardi white, green tea and more; and Lost in Shanghai, with Belvedere vodka, Soho lychee, grapefruit juice and cassis. I put this image up on Instagram and within five minutes the Terrace manager came over with a little thank you present. Inside in The Lobby, meanwhile, the colour of the evening was brown. Friday and Saturday are chocolate buffet nights, with 12 different chocolate beans, including intense Inaya and sweet-milk Alunga, that can be ground for your customised hot or cold chocolate drink, to go with macaroons and petits fours and oodles of calories.
After looking at the curvaceous bespoke Jean Jacques Porret bronze sculpture in my room, it was definitely time for a workout – the 20th floor gym, here, has one of superb views that can be counted on one hand when it comes to luxury hotels’ gyms. By the entrance is a lineup of workout gear to buy. #RedefiningLuxury, The Peninsula Chicago‘s happy-birthday hashtag includes touchpoints of colour, be it subtle flowers or a rainbow of sweat tops. Redefining is also service, like the breakfast server who genuinely is thrilled when I tell him that the Kalona full-fat yoghurt is positively eulogistic, and, at lunch in the oh-so-popular Pierrot Gourmet, a female server with turquoise nails and a smile from one side of her face to the other (and the shrimp salad she said was her favourite WAS delicious).