CheckOut: Chicago’s Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel

Chicago's Palmer house, A hilton Hotel in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineThis year makes the 147th year the Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel is open and the rich history, distinguished service, with fine combed layers of subtle modern upgrades makes this property the place to stay in downtown Chicago. The current Palmer House is actually the third Palmer House. The first Palmer House opened in 1871 but burned down in the Great Chicago Fires. The second was completed in 1875 and the third (and current installment) was designed by Holabird & Roche and opened in 1925. One step into the decadent lobby is enough to make you gasp and grab your pearls. (Photo by David Cowan.)

Gay factor

The Palmer House Hilton Hotel is an extremely gay friendly hotel, situated in the heart of downtown and within close proximity to The Art Institute of Chicago, The PrivateBank Theatre (Where Hamilton is currently running), Symphony Center, and the scenic Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. The property is the ultimate launch pad into the artistic and cultural landscape of Chicago and also boasts it’s own unique History is Hott!!! Tour. Local historian Ken Price, named best historian of 2014 by Historic Hotels of America leads a sassy luncheon at Lockwood restaurant including a presentation of local curiosities and hotel museum relics followed by a tour of the storied art deco lobby, grand ballrooms and vintage artifacts throughout the hotel. Tours are offered Tuesdays through Saturdays.


Rooms are quite affordable for downtown Chicago, starting out as low as $102 for their special “Escape to Romance” offer for couples (Upgrade to breakfast for two for $142/night). Prices go up seasonally, starting at up to the $285 during prime summer weeks. The key? Book early (but keep an eye out for specials and fun package deals.


We can recommend visiting the Palmer House Hilton year-round as the property offers something for everyone each season. Truly a city within a city, The Palmer House captures the essence and energy of Chicago. Check out the Magic Parlour to have your mind read, explore the History is Hott Tour, sip on a glass of specialty labeled bourbon, live it up over high tea at the Metz, or simply recharge at The Spa at Palmer House. The holidays are an especially magical time at the Palmer House when guests can sip on Yuletide tea service in the lobby, munch on a special brownie on National Brownie Day (the brownie was invented in the hotel in 1893), or take in the popular “Merry TubaChristmas – A Concert of Christmas Music” an evening of 400 tuba players in the Grand Ballroom orchestrated in honor of music professor and creator Harvey Phillips. The Lockwood team curates the farmhouse-style cuisine menu for their signature Lockwood Restaurant & Bar year round. Focusing on locally-grown ingredients from the hotel’s rooftop garden & apiary, Lockwood features new seasonal butters and Chef Mathew’s crave able Cheese Curds.


Situated at 17 East Monroe Street, the Palmer House Hilton is roughly a half hour to forty-five minutes from Chicago-O’Hare International Airport or Chicago Midway Airport. Located right in the heart of downtown in the Loop and ideal for weekenders, tourists, and conference goers who are looking to have a little fun after breaking for the day. The Palmer House Hilton is in a prime location to explore some of the main sights including State Street shopping (Macy’s, Block 37 Mall), the Chicago Theatre District, Millennium Park, Grant Park, the Chicago River and Navy Pier.


The Palmer House Hilton’s luxurious 1,641 rooms are a snapshot of its rich legacy. Guest rooms range from standard comfort rooms to suites featuring parlor and dining areas, libation stations and even more spacious executive level rooms that includes a private check-in, dedicated concierge, key-only access to Executive floor conveniences and perks (breakfast, snacks, and some refreshing beverages. The property recently completed $215 million renovation featuring the new Hilton Serenity Dream beds, flat screen HD televisions, wired and wireless high-speed Internet and alarm clocks with auxiliary ports. Be sure to book a room on the Executive floor if you’re longing for a room with a view. Yes, that’s Millennium Park and Lake Michigan just beyond it.


The bathrooms at the Palmer House Hilton are all business, with just the right touches of luxury. Feel free to pack a tooth brush and leave the rest of your dop kit at home, they have a wide range of Peter Thomas Roth hair and skincare necessities (even mouthwash!). The double shower head is perfect for getting those hard to reach spots. While you won’t want to spend the whole day in the bath they cover the bases with just exactly what you need.


Palmer House Hilton offers a wider range of amenities bountiful offerings for your convenience be it for business, family comfort, or pleasure. Lockwood Restaurant is the go to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks or afternoon tea. The ultimate Chicago go-to for homegrown flavor and comfort, it’s impossible to not peruse the Brownie Menu after every visit. Hint: While Bertha’s Brownie is definitely the classic the 145th Anniversary Brownie is seven layers of decadence. While Potter’s Chicago Burger Bar may seem like a more laid back option their burgers are absolutely something to write home about. For even more opulent dining (and perhaps dancing & first class performances) guests can get decked out for a night at the glorious Empire Room. For more than 80 years the Empire Room has hosted performers like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte and Louis Armstrong.

Balance your three plus meals at the property with quality time at their full-service three-level Health Club featuring new Preva by Pre-Cor cardiovascular machines, free weights, as well as an indoor pool & Jacuzzi. Down on the fifth floor The Spa at Palmer House, created by the lifestyle experts at Balanced Flow Wellness, is an 8,000 square foot oasis for wellness offering massages, facials, body services, and nail/salon treatments. Interested in having an event or conference at the Palmer House Hilton? Between their 130,000 square feet of meeting space, three ballrooms (which can accommodate up to a whopping 1,653 people), 78 breakout rooms, and eleven hospitality suites they’ve got you covered.

Discover more Chicago on ManAboutWorld here.

About the CheckOut

ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please let us know. We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure here.

Published by edsalvato

Educator, marketing, communications and travel safety expert; LGBTQ Pavilion at the New York Times Travel Show; public speaker; expert panel organizer and moderator

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