Above: Fog lifts, revealing the Chicago skyline

Chicago Bounces Back

Value has been hard to come by this year. Since we pay full price for all the hotels we review, we have felt the surge in room rates just like everyone else. Fortunately, there are still some wonderful places in the United States where plush accommodations can be had at a reasonable cost, perhaps even at a discount. Chicago is one of those places. Because big cities haven’t seen the demand spikes experienced by beach resorts and national parks, their hotel prices haven’t increased so steeply. During our summer stays, we discovered room rates that were perhaps 30 percent less than usual, and more important, we had a sensational time visiting uncrowded museums and dining in superlative restaurants. This autumn is an ideal time for a long weekend in the city.

The Peninsula Chicago vs. Four Seasons Chicago

The 25-meter pool at The Peninsula Chicago - Photo by Andrew Harper editor

The question Andrew Harper members most commonly ask our travel advisors about Chicago is, “Which is better, the Four Seasons or The Peninsula?” The two properties are a short walk from each other along Michigan Avenue, they have similar prices, and our ratings of them are always close. But the Four Seasons just reopened after a major renovation, and I wondered if that might give it the edge over The Peninsula, currently ranked as the favorite by two points. It was time for an anonymous reevaluation.

As an initial test, I asked the concierges of both hotels to assist with one of Chicago’s most difficult restaurant reservations: Rose Mary. It was no surprise to receive a quick response from The Peninsula, saying that because the restaurant does not answer its phone or emails, they were unable to help. But I was amazed to learn that a Four Seasons concierge had managed to secure a table on one of my requested dates at an ideal time. Advantage Four Seasons.

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Above: Fog lifts, revealing the Chicago skyline

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