It’s not often that you get to stay overnight in a life insurance building that opened back in 1894, but Kimpton isn’t your everyday hotel chain. Now part of the IHG family of brands, Kimpton has a flair for taking extraordinary spaces and turning them into phenomenal hotels. The Kimpton Gray in Chicago is a perfect example.
I’ve already written about how I used my IHG Select Credit Card free night certificate to pay for the room instead of paying the $400+ a night that rooms were going for at the time. The Gray fit our needs for a quick weekend in Chicago, it was located in the Loop and right off the CTA from O’Hare and the United Center. While rooms at this hotel can be expensive, they’re really nice.
The Kimpton Gray Hotel
122 W. Monroe Street
While stately looking from the outside, the Gray’s first impression is, well, boring. That’s not surprising since the building was originally home to the New York Life Insurance company.
Kimpton renovated the building into a 293 room hotel which just opened in 2016. They did an amazing job. The main entrance leads to a rather bland hallway. We found out later that this was not always the main entrance. Turning the corner, we were told to take the elevators up to the lobby. Wow. You just started to get a sense of the grandeur of the hotel from the rows of shining elevator doors.
Reaching the lobby level, the hotel became a bit more modern but still held a sense of its former self. The tile-work on the floor was amazing and sparkled as you walked by. There were hotel workers continually polishing it our entire stay.
Even though we arrived early (around noon). we were greeted at the small check in area and informed that our room was ready. Our check in took a little longer than normal because the agent needed to code our keys for both nights since I had booked separate reservations. She ensured us that we did not have to return to the desk after the first night to get new keys, something I usually expect when splitting a reservation.
We were chatting about how beautiful the hotel was and she asked us if we saw the grand entrance. We said we thought so, but she knew if that was our answer then we really hadn’t. She pointed us down the hall and towards the end of the elevators. We weren’t able to get a great picture, I’m sure glad someone was able to.
We headed up to our room. While the lobby was full of marble, the floors had a much more sullen vibe.
This was even more pronounced once you entered the area where the rooms were located.
Because the hotel was previously an office building, the room layout was a little strange. Our room was located at the end of the hallway with rooms on all three sides
Upon entering the room, the bathroom was directly on the left and a larger dresser was on the right.
The bed was incredibly comfortable and Sharon was obsessed with the light fixture over the left night stand (Note from Sharon: it was SO COOL! You can’t tell in the photo, but it was plastic and almost reminded me of a paisley pattern).
There was sufficient work space for one person with a desk and chair.
The designer went to town in the bathroom with a decorative wall in the walk in shower. There was plenty of room on the sink for toiletries and they even provided a nightlight.
Sharon found the sign above the toilet to be funny, but she has the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old (Note from Sharon: True story! But the sign REALLY should have said asparagus, not garlic).
One of the unique things about Kimpton Hotels is their daily wine/cocktail hour. The Gray was offering two wines daily (one red and one white) and the service was in the seating area behind the check-in desk. The windows offered a great view of the street below.
I took a peek in the hotel gym and noticed they had a Peloton bike, which is something I’ve never seen in a hotel before.
Sharon and I love staying in old buildings, which is one of the reasons I picked the Gray for our stay. I had no idea the level of detail that went into the renovation and found an interesting video about the transformation on the hotel website.
Knowing that just a few years ago, this was a vacant decaying office building and now it’s a beautiful hotel makes me feel good that people still do care about these things. I was also glad to see that they valued all of the work that went into the construction and kept as many features as they could, from the marble staircases to the crown moldings.
Renovating spaces like this are never easy and every once in a while you end up with a staircase that goes to nowhere. Great place for an art installation with dramatic lighting.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary