Luxury Hotels


There’s art galore at PARK HYATT CHICAGO – above, GM Rike Erdbrink stands in front of one of the many pieces on loan from the Pritzkers’ vast collection. Girlahead loves the way the hotel’s $60-million new-look, by local firm Anderson/Miller, is overall lighter-brighter, with even more emphasis on big window seats where you can lounge and work (plenty of electric sockets and USB ports everywhere, while looking out, across the Magnificent Mile to Lake Michigan). All of the 180-total keys have a truly memorable wire-art sculpture, by Eric Gushee, a local creator who was studying at Marlboro College in Vermont – not to be confused with Marlborough College in England – when he became fascinated by wire as a medium.  His pieces, he says, show a struggle between the two and three-dimensional worlds.

Down at ground floor level, the lobby has been stripped of unnecessaries, so, again, simply space are two key words. Girlahead was in a fascinating conversation with Rike Erdbrink, a Hanseatic woman of the world, about mutual love of gin, when Parker the pug slowly progressed across. It looked as if the new space was specifically designed for a Shakespearean lead slowly to intone ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’.  Perhaps that is actually what Parker, a mature pooch with a Burberry neck scarf was actually thinking. There’s a relevant painting, Parker’s Protector, pastel 2016, Nancie King Mertz.

Throughout the USA, top hotels and dogs are in a state of Khalil Gibran entwinement. VIRGIN HOTELS CHICAGO have lifesize white china mutts, admittedly somewhat anthropomorphic, on lobby stairs and outside all bedrooms that are particularly pet friendly (they are tied on with scarlet ribbon but, admits GM Joshua Schaeffer, they do sometimes go walkies. One way). THE PENINSULA CHICAGO’s boss, Maria Razumich-Zec, is another pug-person (she currently has two, Duchess and Tulip, but do not ask me which is shown on a wall in the hotel’s uplifting Z-Bar, designed by Yabu Pushelberg).

In the nation’s capital, Doyle Collection’s THE DUPONT CIRCLE comes into the play. MD Joel Freyberg’s a Yorkie Yankee, but not any old Yorkie. This is Herbie, whose handle is @HRHherbie, and he inspires locals to come, either goaded or willingly accompanied by any thing with four legs, to come along to Yappie Evenings in the hotel’s Martin Brudnizki-designed bar. And in the financial capital, of course there’s a suitable contender for wagging wow time. Marlene Poynder, MD of THE CARLISLE, A ROSEWOOD HOTEL, walks Newsypoo – a Newfoundland cross – a couple of times daily but she could not possibly take her treasure to Bemelmans. That’s the bar every self-respecting Gen-Y-Z high achiever considers their own and there isn’t a square inch of floor space. Internationally, not surprisingly, dogs and hotel bosses are not invariably lifetime companions: when Philipp Knuepfer moved from MANDARIN ORIENTAL BOSTON to MANDARIN ORIENTAL SINGAPORE he had to leave golden retrievers Bonnie and Tara with one of the Boston doormen (travel challenges and Singapore’s heat would have been too much).