Summertime in Chicago is undoubtedly the best time of the year. The amount of things to do is never-ending, from neighborhood festivals and outdoor concerts to beaches, bike rides and boat days.
No matter how much I love it, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get a little overwhelming at times. So last weekend when Lollapalooza brought 400,000 people downtown, crowding my neighborhood with intoxicated teenagers and bumping music into my apartment day and night, it was the perfect time for a mini escape.
I booked a staycation at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel, just 15 miles from home. The hotel has a notable on-site restaurant, Asado Urban Grill, and a lobby bar, so I didn’t have to worry about where to eat or drink. And even better, it was a short Uber ride away from the Allstate Arena, where I had tickets to see movie composer Hans Zimmer in concert.
Not only would staying at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare be a nice break from my regular routine, but it’d make getting to the Allstate Arena much easier (and cheaper) than getting to/ from downtown Chicago.
Staycation at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel
I checked into the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare after a stressful Friday workday. As soon as I walked into the spacious lobby I felt like I was on vacation; immediately the stress started slipping away from my shoulders. I eyed the bar to the side of the lobby and made a mental note to check it out later.
Room to Relax
Once I got to my room, vacation mode hit even harder. My hotel room, with a quaint living area (complete with a desk) and separate bedroom, was bigger than my apartment! I was surprised there was an actual bedroom with a separate door. That was definitely going to be a change of pace from the studio I live in! (It also created an internal debate: do I sleep with the door open or closed?!)
I wished I had more time to spend hanging out in the room (seriously) but had a schedule to keep and a concert to see!
Dinner at Asado Urban Grill
I rushed downstairs to the hotel restaurant, Asado Urban Grill, tucked away towards the back of the hotel. It was bright and open, and far enough away from the front desk to feel like an actual restaurant, not an afterthought of a hotel lobby.
Asado serves American cuisine; its menu filled with familiar dishes to make any traveler feel at home. Lots of seafood (like shrimp pappardelle, $24, and mahi mahi tacos, $24), an obligatory steak section (it is Chicago, after all), duck tacos, burgers and more fill the menu.
Chef Tony Roldan explained that they didn’t create the menu on site, so they don’t get a lot of creativity in the kitchen. But they make up for it by perfecting what they do make, with house made pastas and made-from-scratch sauces.
And that attention to detail is evident in the food. I was pleasantly surprised how good the Wild Mushroom Ravioli ($13) was. I’m not sure how I feel about wonton skins in lieu of pasta (it made for an interesting texture), but the savory mushrooms and chunky tomato sauce with fragrant basil was spot on.
My waiter recommended the Seafood Mixed Grill Kabobs ($30) and I was blown away. Two kabobs stuffed with hearty scallops, chunks of salmon and luscious shrimp separated by grilled vegetables, served on brown rice with a side of broccolini. A perfectly potent garlic aioli was on the side for dipping. It was one of those dishes that breaks your heart to leave some behind, but it was just too big to finish.
Pleasantly stuffed from dinner, I grabbed an Uber to the Allstate Arena, about 10 minutes away, for the Hans Zimmer concert. I thought about how ironic it was that I was going to a classical concert while most people in Chicago were crowding Lollapalooza to see big name popular bands, but that nerdiness is sort of my thing. :)
The concert was absolutely amazing. I listened to live music from Gladiator, The Dark Knight, Inception and the Lion King. Then I hopped a quick Uber back to the Renaissance and went straight to the bar.
The bar was packed with fellow hotel guests and neighborhood regulars. Eddie the bartender suggested his version of a Manhattan, using FEW bourbon (made in neighboring Evanston). Delicious! I had so much fun hanging out with the bartender and fellow bar-goers that before I knew it, it was last call and time for bed.
Upstairs in my giant room, I crawled into the giant king size bed and melted into the soft sheets and fluffy pillows. I slept so soundly I was slightly confused when I woke up in an unfamiliar place. Sweet dreams indeed!
I hung out in the room a bit before reluctantly packing up my stuff and checking out. (Unfortunately missing Asado’s breakfast menu by just 10 minutes!) I was surprised how much I enjoyed the hotel and the sense of peace it brought. Next time I’m seeing a concert nearby or even have an early morning flight out of O’Hare (just two train stops away), you’ll find me spending the night at the Renaissance.
Stay at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suite Hotel for :: a peaceful hotel beyond the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. It’s convenient enough for a quick stay before (or after) a flight at O’Hare and comfortable enough for an extended stay in Chicago. Despite being close to the airport, I didn’t hear any planes!
Disclaimer :: I was graciously invited to the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare as a guest of the HL Group. As always, all opinions are my own.