The gal has travelled the world since she was last at InterContinental Chicago exactly a year ago, but in the interim the wall above this luxury historic hotel’s front desk – as above – remains unique. Facing you as you enter is a room-wide real-time vision of life in the bustling city outside. In case you have to wait, the vision gives you something on which to concentrate. And of course in a 792-room hotel often busy with convention and other groups you do sometimes have to wait. Las Vegas casino-hotels have gardens or other visions behind front desk, but, really, others should copy what happens here in Chicago and put in LED screens like this.
Other hotels should also cotton on to the fact that an association with a legend of the calibre of Michael Jordan is win-win. The restaurant is run by the hotel under licence from Cornerstone Restaurant Group, run by a former Hyatt f&b guy, David Zadikoff. Best table is 23, in the corner. 23 is Michael Jordan’s number and if he should come in while you are dining, the meal is on him. There is a selfie board, prominently marked 23, and tonight several groups are posing in front of it (one photo is of a cute young man, about ten, neat hair, blazer, tie and chinos, standing with his proud mother).
Michael Jordan’s Steak House is clever, all-round. It is a conversion of the original hallway, brightly coloured, dating back to when this was built, as Medinah Athletic Club, a Shriners project. That hallway space has been divided into two storeys. Lunch is served downstairs only, where there is also a sports bar with screens (this means that upstairs is available for private parties). Dinner is served both downstairs and up, where table 23 is. Tonight I start with arugula salad, go on to a Delmonico ribeye, named for the Delmonico family’s restaurant in Lower Manhattan. Originally a Delmonico came with mashed potato topped with grated cheese and buttered breadcrumbs but here, with style, they bring you three different mashes, with Cheddar, goat cheese, and lobster.
We drink 2014 Bench Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, made by winemaker Dan Fitzgerald for Bench owner Jason Enos. And then I go back up to my lovely pinnacle room 3550, the 1,600 sq ft duplex, with the upstairs bedroom reached, Romeo and Juliet style, via 17 curved white marble steps. Up there, I can look down on my balcony. I wonder what books to take up for bedtime reading: one pile of hardbacks includes Where Are We Going? Selections from the François Pinault Collection, and Elegance in the Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s. Now see the video, below, for a panorama of this luxury hotel’s memorable suite.