Finding a Gem in Chicago – The Palmer House

I discovered a hidden gem in Chicago:  The Palmer House!  After the neat architecture boat tour of the city that my fellow travel bloggers and I did in our tweeetup, and after walking through Millenium Park admiring the Cloud Gate, the water statues (whatever they are called), etc., one of our local tweetuppers suggested that we headed to the Palmer House to give our legs a rest and have a drink in a unique place in Chicago.

Of course, that sounded good to all of us so we said yes not fully knowing what to expect (blessed ignorance!).  We were in for a REAL treat.  The Palmer House has one of the more elegant hotel lobbies I have seen in a while!  Sitting there to have drinks (and people watch) was a nice break from the more visitor sightseeing we had done that day.  It was elegant, magnificent, and alive – tons of people either for the wedding receptions going on, guests of the hotel, or short-term visitors like us.  It is the third reincarnation of the hotel originally built by someone rich for his bride-to-be.  The first building burned down in the famous Chicago fire days after opening…

Chicago's Palmer House bar

The ceiling of that lobby area is a delight to look at and, to me, the centerpiece of the place.  It reminds me of the ceilings around the Vatican Museum or The Hermitage in St. Petersburg.  I wish I knew where exactly the building’s architect/designer got their inspiration from.  I felt a little inspired myself…

Chicago's Palmer House lobby

Chicago's Palmer House ceiling

… so I ordered rye Old Fashioned.  No, the drink is not on the ceiling but on a mirror-top table – it made for a great contrast with the ceiling as well as for some neat pix of the folks around the table.

Drink and ceiling at Chicago's Palmer House

While it was definitely great to discover a gem like this without any research (thanks Pola from @jettingaround!), it does highlight a couple of things:

1.  Serendipity can lead to great experiences – not having hard plans for every hour of the afternoon, we allowed for opportunities like this to come based on the mood of the moment; or serendipity in other cases can be just simply meandering the lesser streets in a city and pop in to any establishment that catches your eye!

2.  Locals can give you some of the best insights on those places off the beaten path!

I don’t know that we found this gem.  I certainly didn’t find it.  But it “found” me!  If you ever go to Chicago, put this on your list of places to sit at and chill – and admire.

Read more about the good times we had in Chicago and how I got to high places.

Do you know other gems like this in Chicago?  Please share!

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