What was once an elite sports club, Chicago Athletic Association is now an upscale boutique hotel with a diverse dining scene and great nightlife spaces.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Alex Temblador Contributing writer
Breathing hard. Lungs expanding. Working, pushing. Sweat dripping off foreheads. Legs and arm muscles straining with effort to succeed. High-fives and cheers from the comrades. These sounds, these feelings, seep through the walls of the Chicago Athletic Association, a place where 125 years ago, elite gentlemen came to play sports, work out, and discuss the modern world.
Today, the Chicago Athletic Association welcomes all, as its been renovated and rebranded as one of the coolest hotels in the Windy City. Located on the Central Chicago Loop, the hotel stands out for its panoramic views of downtown Chicago. It may lack its elitist guest list, but there’s still a private club vibe to the interiors. Take the drawing room. The wood-heavy décor is finely crafted along the walls and windows, whereas the fireplace and cozy rug is reminiscent of an upscale lodge. If you want to see hints of the hotel’s athletic history, check out the mosaic tile floor of the grand staircase which features swimming lanes and “shallow” and “deep” markers.
And if all that wasn’t enough, you can always have a quick burger to-go in their on-site Shake Shack.
As for the rooms, they’re practical and attractive with metal beds, subdued colors like navy and soft orange, leather chairs, and lots of light from floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel’s athletic club history makes its appearance in boxing-style robes and the benches at the end of the beds that look like gymnastic vaults. Free Wi-Fi, C.O. Bigelow bath products, flat-screen TVs, gourmet minibars, and the Carrara marble bathrooms offer a modern stay with true Chicago hospitality.
Chicago Athletic Association manages to bring the athletic element in a 24-hour gym, guided lakefront runs, and a basketball court. After a hard workout, guests can check out one of the seven dining options on-site. Starting from the top to the bottom, you have Cindy’s, a rooftop restaurant in a glass atrium that serves a mean drink and seasonal food with great views of Millennium Park. Have a martini and farm-to-table dinner at the Cherry Circle Room or play a classic game of bocce, chess, shuffleboards, or billiards in the Game Room. Have a cocktail in the hidden Milk Room, an eight-seater bar that was a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Fairground will whip up a coffee or tea any time of the day, which you can enjoy in the Drawing Room which also has a menu of light meals to be enjoyed on a cozy couch. And if all that wasn’t enough, you can always have a quick burger to-go in their on-site Shake Shack.
Opened in 1893, the Chicago Athletic Association has been buzzing as the place to be in Chicago. It welcomed the men of the upper classes, athletes who hit the courts and the pool, the gym, the weights, and the punching bag. They may have been part of an exclusive club, but today, it’s you, my friends, that keeps the legacy going with a stay at the Chicago Athletic Association.
Within a gothic building from the late 1800’s, this chic hotel once housed an exclusive sportsmen’s club and is located along the Chicago Cultural Mile in The Loop
A vintage sports-theme runs through the halls and furnishings, while the polished rooms feature free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TV’s, and marbled bathrooms.
A true gentleman’s quarters featuring: a rooftop restaurant with park views, a speakeasy bar, a game room, and of course, a 24-hour gym
24-hour rooms service and a on-premise Shake Shack