Standing guard over the historic Chicago River, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is as storied as it is stylish, and its location puts all the best parts of Chicago at your feet. Here’s where to stay in Chicago – the Kimpton Monaco.
Once home to one of the grandest hat and fashion houses in the New World, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco still retains the suave old-school nuance of Chicago in the 1900s.
In 1912, prominent milliner Daniel Brainard Fisk rebuilt his business from the ashes of the great Chicago fire of 1871. From the grand 13-storey skyscraper he commissioned on Wabash Avenue, Fisk made and sold the iconic ‘Fiskhat’ to the wealthiest soigné ladies of the day.
Fisk’s empire – along with the hat fashion – finally ended thanks mainly to changing trends and advances in haircare products. However, the building that DB Fisk & Co called home still remains.
And what was once the home of the gold standard of American fashion is now a benchmark for hotels in one of America’s most exciting cities.
Check out our hotel walkthrough of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago here:
Where to stay in Chicago – Kimpton Hotel Monaco
Thanks to a recent renovation, the Monaco’s decor is right up to date and brings together the touches of history of the building’s origins with the whimsical detail of a high-quality modern hotel.
Welcoming guests, the wide entrance bears left to the hotel’s aptly named Fisk & Co cafe and bar, while on the right is the lounge.
Filled with comfy furniture, a grand open fire, double-height lofted ceiling and elegant art deco finishes the lounge is the perfect mix of comfort, space, luxury and quirkiness.
There’s a well-stocked hat stand as you’d expect, and even a help-yourself book stand if you’re short of reading material.
At 5pm every evening, the hotel offers a ‘social hour’ where you can come and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or two. It’s in keeping with all Kimpton hotels and a lovely way to enjoy the beautiful space.
The success of the hotel’s recent renovation is thanks to interior designer Susan Caruso, who has brought a grand European feel to its rooms. Classic art deco touches and a clever use of hats as artwork and theme have given the rooms here interest and heritage.
When the Monaco was still Fisk’s hat company, the 13 floors obviously had very different uses.
The Fisk Building housed not only the store itself, but also manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution. In fact, only the first floor and 12th were for customers. All the others were for either factory elements or printing and staff rooms.
However, the top floor is said to have been the party room!
Our penthouse suite
Up on the top floor – the party floor – our splendid suite looks down over the Chicago River. It’s worth asking at time of booking for a room with a view of the river.
The room is spectacular, with a comfortable (actually comfortable) sofa, a well-appointed bathroom, huge smart TVs in both rooms and a bed that loves you!
It’s one of those rooms that’s full of details; the longer you look the more you find. Like Cameroonian juju hats on walls, power and USB points on both sides of the bed, carefully curated art on walls, and the minibar that’s in an old-fashioned hat box.
Each window within the thick, century-old walls of the building have been turned into daybeds, where you can enjoy incredible views over the river and northwards over the Loop.
Clearly designed to a brief of combining comfort and homeliness with stylish elegance, the suite is full of little details that makes such a difference to your stay.
Being only a few feet from the riverside and on the northern edge of the Loop, the Monaco is perfectly positioned for travellers keen to explore Chicago on foot.
And if you do anything in Chicago, make sure you go on a Chicago architecture cruise on the river. There’s a reason everyone – even locals – tell you to do it.
If you want some pointers on what else to do in Chicago, you should check out what we managed to fit in during our recent four-day visit.
Kimpton hotels love to keep surprising you. They all have a great sense of humour and community that you don’t seem to get with many international hotel chains.
Things like the Social Hour we mentioned earlier that offers free wine or cocktails between 5pm-6pm every night and how every Kimpton has a dog bowl for your furry friend is just the start of it.
They also run fun things like Raid the Bar, which gives you access to your room’s minibar and if you keep an eye on the Kimpton blog – Life is Suite – you might just find out the secret password of the season.
Say the password at check-in and see what’s in store. It could be an upgrade or a bottle of wine… whatever it is, you’ll love it!
And that’s for all Kimpton hotels.
As for the Monaco Chicago specifically, it’s a wonderful place to stay in my favourite US city.
It’s somewhere you can’t wait to come back to at the end of the day. a chic home away from home. Think the opposite of drab hotel. That’s this.