Travel | January 17, 2023 6:30 am

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago Just Finished a $100M Renovation

Here's what we liked best about your new luxury staycation spot

Bar at Torali, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago
Bar at Torali, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago
The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago

With an enviable location between Michigan Avenue and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Ritz-Carlton Chicago has offered visitors a luxe oasis from the city for the past 45 years. Now, after some pandemic-related delays, it’s unveiling the fruits of a $100 million renovation, led by the San Francisco interior design firm BAMO. Obviously, we wanted to check it out for ourselves — so here’s what we loved most from a luxurious, all-too-brief stay on the Gold Coast.  

1. The lobby

The twelfth-floor lobby is a solid blend of sophistication and chill, with cushy seating, Starbucks and pastries from the café, live trees and lots of light, courtesy of a partial glass ceiling — it’s the ideal spot to grab some breakfast, check emails or get a little work done. If you need a small snack to tide you over until dinner, make sure you’re there at 5 p.m. to “Take Five,” with Garrett Popcorn’s famous “Chicago Mix” (half cheese, half caramel). 

2. The rooms

All 434 guestrooms received an extensive facelift, though thankfully, one thing that hasn’t changed is their ample size, a legacy of a time when downtown square footage was easier to come by. Furnished with a king or two double beds, a navy couch and a small built-in bar, the tranquil rooms are a good place to spend a night in, ordering room service in your complimentary robes and slippers. The property offers one- and two-bedroom guestrooms as well as a few different suite options, all with beautiful city or lake views through the huge picture windows. Everything you’d expect — plenty of outlets, a TV-controlling app if you can’t be bothered to find the remote, a wall-mounted magnifying mirror — is present and accounted for. Plus, if you’re a Diptyque fan, you’ll feel right at home with the Philosykos bath products. 

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3. The restaurant

The hotel’s restaurant — Torali, a modern, Italian-influenced steakhouse — is terrific. I sampled a little bit of everything: perfectly grilled steak, a Green Circle Farms chicken in rosemary jus and Big Glory Bay king salmon. I was surprised to learn I do, in fact, like salmon, at least when prepared by an expert instead of my incompetent hand. 

Desserts here are sufficiently indulgent; in fact, they’re worth the trip on their own. I tried the Torali Triple Chocolate Layer Cake, a decadent treat with a dark chocolate crémeux, whipped ganache, fudge frosting and vanilla bean chantilly — and as if that wasn’t enough, a salted caramel sauce topping. The Tiramisu Crepe Cake has thin crepes nestled between layers of marsala mousse, dark chocolate and warm espresso caramel. Once the weather changes for the better, Torali’s 12th-floor outdoor lounge area, overlooking the Magnificent Mile, is going to be sublime

After your meal, head to the bar for a seasonal cocktail. If you like rye whiskey and are in the mood for something sweet, the Ginger Peach Smash is the way to go; it’s made with Knob Creek rye, crème de pêche, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur and angostura. The Lake Effect is the Instagram favorite, with Tito’s vodka, green chartreuse, lime, sparkling wine and cucumber. 

4. The spa

The spa offers massages, facials and body treatments, as well as a few seasonal options. If you’ve had a particularly taxing time before arriving into the luxe bubble of the Ritz, do your body a favor and schedule yourself a Stress Relief Massage. Plan to spend 30 minutes to an hour before or after your service making the rounds between the sauna and steam rooms, before rinsing off in the showers. After your service, you’ll be led to the relaxation room, where you can recline under thick, cozy blankets in low lighting and rest your tired eyes. 

If you’re one of those people who believes in maintaining your workout routine, even on vacation (why?), the hotel offers a full gym with big windows overlooking the city and Lake Michigan. And if swimming is more your jam, the hotel also offers a decently sized pool for you to knock out some laps.