Design Destination: The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Playtime is getting serious with the unveiling of the newly reimagined iconic Chicago Athletic Association. The long-vacant Venetian Gothic landmark has been transformed into a boutique hotel offering some of the city’s best views, food, drinks, and entertainment.

Design duo Roman and Williams, winners of the 2014 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, have reimagined the historic monument as a chic, spirited hotel infused with nostalgic details. Inspired by the 19th century train sheds that occupied the surrounding neighborhood, the designers built a hotel terrace overlooking Millennium and Maggie Daley Parks, as well as Lake Michigan.    

The rooms and suites are outfitted in high style with contemporary touches. Guests can select queen or king beds fitted with custom 300 thread count 100% Egyptian Cotton Murano linens and indulge in the Carrara marble baths with luxurious Chicago Athletic Association robes. Each room’s mini-bar is stocked with the best locally-sourced Chicago favorites, complimentary WiFi, and 42” flat screen TVs round out the relaxing experience.  

The hotel is also a destination for meetings and events, offering floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the expansive city views, and bas-relief oak carvings crowning colossal 19th century fireplaces. The individual filament bulbs set within overhead plaster ornamentation lend a warm glow to every inch of the impressive rooms.

But the new Chicago Athletic Association is really more about playtime than worktime. Guests are invited to take part in bocce, billiards, shuffleboard, and more in the Game Room. The second-floor space is considered the hotel’s “playground homage” to the building’s history as a men’s club and offers an array of activities evocative of the speakeasy era.  

Guests are also invited to enjoy decadent meals at one of the hotel’s restaurants and imbibe at the prohibition-era whiskey bar, the Milk Room. Cindy’s, the rooftop restaurant and open-air terrace, offers fresh, seasonal dishes from executive chef Christian Ragano, and cocktails from spirit guide Nandini Khaund. The Cherry Circle Room serves as a historic restaurant space that has served the building for generations and the food and drink program is inspired by the Chicago Athletic Association menus dating as far back as the 1890s. And those on the hunt for classic burgers can head to the very first Shake Shack designed around a historic landmark.

The Chicago Athletic Association is located at 12 South Michigan Avenue. For more information, or to make reservations, visit or call 844-312-2221.

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