I have a weakness for grand old hotels — so whenever I am in Chicago, I stay at the Palmer House. In Chicago, at least, they don’t come much grander than this.
The Palmer House has been around for decades. Countless Presidents, princes, and potentates have stayed there, and Hollywood’s greatest stars have played at the Empire Room. The hotel is colossal, with more than 1,000 guest rooms, and is stunningly ornate.
The Monroe Street entrance features the famous and beautiful peacock doors. These brightly polished and gleaming examples of master metalworking craftsmanship set the tone for the guest’s passage into the brilliantly gaudy, rococo decor of the hotel’s interior. The bustling main lobby features large standing lamps that look like the Pharoah’s braziers, carved black and gold light fixtures on the stairs leading up to the Empire Room, and blazing wall sconces — all beneath a fabulous painted ceiling high, high above.
When you sit at the lobby bar in the Palmer House, you could easily spend hours just gawking at the ceiling and the various features of the lobby area. It’s like having a cocktail in the Sistine Chapel — that is, assuming that the Sistine Chapel would employ a highly skilled bartender.