Ian Schrager’s latest hotel brand leaves behind the velvet rope but still offers plenty of high design touches.

PUBLIC Chicago

When PUBLIC Chicago opened last October in the legendary Ambassador East, it marked a new era in the boutique hotel design world. The latest brand from Ian Schrager focuses more on timeless style rather than trendy design and ultra exclusive velvet ropes. The architectural history of the Ambassador East offers the perfect backdrop for the new classic and modern hotel brand.

Although PUBLIC Chicago features a grand lobby where guests and visitors congregate, the guest room furnishings focus on comfort as much as style, like the line-covered armchairs that are replicas of one Schrager found in a Parisian flea market. An oversize clock and a 42-inch flatscreen TVs adorn the walls, along with a series of Jean-Baptiste Mondino photos of cows, a nod to Chicago’s famous meat market. The rooms don’t skimp on luxuries like snow-white Mongolian lambswool throws, John Pawson beds, and 300 thread-count Frette linens.

The Pump Room was ground zero for celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Newman. Even John F. Kennedy had a booth here. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s recreation of the hotel’s legendary 1926 restaurant now offers simple, delicious fare like roasted beets with house-made yogurt, and crab toast with lemon aioli. The prices are kept as low as possible — only one dish costs more than $30.

What really separates the new PUBLIC brand is the “cheap chic” concept of cutting out all the extras; Wi-Fi is free and there is an “Express” room-service menu of Vongerichten’s gourmet meals at non-luxury prices and with no room service charges. Schrager plans to bring the Public brand to several more cities, including New York and London.

Rates start at $165 a night. Book here.

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