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REVIEW: The Peninsula Chicago: Of touchscreen rooms and eyeglass-cleaning clothBy Sujoy Dhar
Well, the technology apart, you cannot discount the candy floss feeling of staying in rooms with beautiful walls featuring chrysanthemum, the official flower of Chicago.
These walls, the hotel reveals, are created by artist David Qian. The hand-embroidered silk art wall anchors each suite.
But what a boarder like me loved is also the hotel authorities' attention to small needs of daily life- like the inclusion of eyeglass cleaning cloth in the room kits.
So while the Tablet technology at the hotel is available in 11 languages and with touches you can control the lighting, room temperature, TV and more, you also do not need to wipe your glasses with your handkerchief or the corner of your shirt.
The suites in their living areas have pullout sofa-beds separate from the bedroom, making this suite ideal for families.
At The Peninsula Chicago, keeping fit is also about working on your cardio and enjoying a panoramic view of the pulsating city outside through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Needless to say, The Peninsula fitness centre is state-of-the art along with a nice swimming pool which the hotel advertises as "half Olympic size".
At the fitness centre you can use the very modern Cybex and Free Motion training equipment complete with personal televisions or choose from over 30 complimentary classes weekly, including Power Yoga, Aqua Pilates – led by Anne Pringle Burnell who created the Peyow Aqua Pilates programme – and strength training sessions.
The Peninsula Spa offers you every amenity of a superior fitness centre in a truly luxurious, intimate environment. The spa offers treatments inspired by Ayurvedic and Asian philosophies, ranging from the all-natural Hot Stone Massage, which combines holistic, aromatic ESPA oils to the Ama Releasing Abhyanga, a spiritually uplifting Ayurvedic massage.
I did not have the chance to taste its Chinese restaurant voted the number one "Chinese Restaurant in Chicago" by Zagat Survey. Of what I collected Shanghai Terrace offers Cantonese delicacies amidst a 1930s supper club décor, or outside on The Terrace with spectacular skyline views and cocktails. The menu boasts of a blend of traditional dishes and creative rendition of classics. At lunch, bamboo baskets of freshly steamed dim sum contain favourites such as barbecue pork buns, Peking Duck and shrimp and chive dumplings.
The Lobby: Here is where I had a meal and loved it. You can sit by the window of The Lobby overlooking the terrace and have a hearty meal. Your breakfast is also served here. I had a dinner and you can begin choosing falafel, panisse, merguez, olives, hummus, greek salad, pita, tabbouleh salad, baba ghanoush, muhammara to Lamb Flat Bread (spiced merguez sausage, olive, greek yogurt) or Seasonal Vegetarian Flat Bread (Heirloom squash, manchego, arugula, fig). The Lobby burger can be of dry aged wagyu, prairie breeze white cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, special spread. In Risotto you have lemon thyme, parmesan croquet castelvetrano olives (add poached lobster tail, add black truffle).
You can go for a Crisp Skin Ora King Salmon or Seared Beef Filet while in SALADS & SOUPS I will suggest Thai Lobster Bisque- which is half lobster tail, curried peanut, pickled young coconut, acidulated creme.
The Lobby is also where the celebrated Peninsula Afternoon Tea is served.
Well not to be missed is the classic European fare offered at Pierrot Gourmet. It is a European-style café and bistro with the interior created to give you a farmhouse-inspired ambience, complete with rustic wood panels and wrought iron accents. So from a staple favourites such as a hearty home-made soup to a selection of French-style flatbreads, similar to a thin crust pizza with an array of toppings, this is the joint for you.
Located at 108 East Superior Street (at North Michigan Avenue), the hotel's rooms offer a magnificent view of the Chicago skyline and streets too.
The Peninsula Sky Rink
On Nov 19 last the hotel officially opened The Peninsula Sky Rink for its fifth season. The 2,100 sq ft (200 sq m) hybrid rink is the only hotel skating rink in Chicago and debuted in December 2012. Perched above Chicago’s bustling Michigan Avenue, The Terrace is the ideal setting for the hotel’s skating rink. Surrounded by Chicago’s skyscrapers and twinkling lights, the rink is tucked into a pine tree winter wonderland and bathed in festive music and snowflake lighting. The skating rink’s outdoor menu features a selection of hot beverages and snacks including hot chocolate, hot cider, hot dogs, and other treats.
Guests who book a suite will have access to a chauffeured MINI Cooper for up to three hours during their stay (subject to availability).