When I received my invitation to Mary Ellen and John's summer wedding in Chicago I was absolutely thrilled. Of course I was elated that my dear friend from college was getting married, but I was also secretly excited to have a reason to visit a city I love and explore a hotel at the top of my "Destinations" list that I'd been previously invited to: PUBLIC.
As many of you know, the design of my NYC home is based on a neutral, white/cream colored canvas with select black accents and a rotating pop of calming color, often in the form of fresh flowers, artwork, pillows or vases. For this reason, when I travel, I'm always open to new experiences and different aesthetics, but I'm certainly drawn to those that exhibit elegant architectural lines, luxurious details, simplicity in concept, unique artwork and a consistent visual vibe throughout the space. I almost forgot one of the most important elements: beautiful natural light! In all of these areas, PUBLIC didn't disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations.
As we entered the hotel designed by Ian Schrager (a pioneer in the designer boutique hotel concept), we were enveloped by a sea of soothing shades of taupe, cream, grey, beige and black with metallic accents and dramatic contrasts of green foliage. If you're exhausted from traveling, the relaxing surroundings have an instantly calming effect. The staff was courteous, friendly and attentive without feeling intrusive, a natural extension of the overall cool aura. In a way, it felt like arriving home to be greeted by your doorman: familiar, comforting and effortless.
Entering our two-room suite felt like déjà vu. In many ways, the living room appeared to be identical to my NYC space: white sofa, white sheer curtains, black and white prints on the walls by Jean-Baptise Mondino, furry throws on the sofas and chairs, and to my delight there were even bouquets of flowers by the bed and desk. Needless to say I felt right at home. Ultimately, the rooms are a clean, chic, blank palette with simply curated accents ideal for those who appreciate this style, but also appealing for others who want to enjoy a sophisticated yet simple, luxurious stay.
While the building has been renovated, there are beautiful details that remain, like the wainscoting and fireplace that add character to the modern room. The two rooms felt spacious and airy, however the bathroom was on the compact side compared to other hotel accommodations. This didn't bother us since it still had that clean, relaxing spa feel, just in a smaller space. More importantly, there was more than enough room for me to take my nightly dead sea salt bath. I actually called down to room service to see if they had any fresh flowers for my bath, and within 10 minutes I had a bouquet of flowers at my door for my own personal candlelit spa experience.
When I realized that renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten created the menu for the iconic Pump Room, I knew we were in for a treat. Having worked with celebrated chef Terrence Brennan for several years, I'd had the pleasure of meeting Jean-George on several occasions. His NYC restaurant, Mercer Kitchen, was one of my first foodie experiences in Manhattan, a memory I cherish.
If you're expecting your standard hotel restaurant fare, be prepared to be wowed. Each dish was beautifully composed with the freshest seasonal ingredients, but the highlights were a citrusy tuna tartare atop a creamy avocado base and perfectly seared diver sea scallops with peppers and sweet corn.
Overall we loved our stay at PUBLIC. It was the perfect balance of comfort and luxury set against a modern, chic urban backdrop. We look forward to exploring other areas on our next visit, like the Screening Room and the Fitness Center, but we were here for a wedding, after all, so our time to hit the treadmill was limited.
301 N State St.
Chicago, IL 60610