Since I have lived in Chicago my entire life and know the city quite well, I’m often asked for my suggestions on where to go, where to eat, and where to stay in the city. My standard answer is, “If you want to experience REAL Chicago, you need to get into the neighborhoods.” One neighborhood I often recommend is Andersonville. Located fewer than ten miles north of The Loop, it’s one of my favorite areas in all of Chicago. Now I have even more reason to suggest Andersonville to travelers: the addition of The Guesthouse Hotel, a Select Registry property. The Guesthouse Hotel was named one of Chicago’s best new hotels in 2014 and, after staying there recently with my family, I can definitely understand why. The boutique hotel has all the amenities you would expect from a luxury property and, with only 25 units, it’s a decidedly intimate and personal environment.
The property consists of two adjoining buildings. The ten units in the original building were intended to be luxury condominiums. The owners instead decided to convert them to vacation rentals and, a few years later, constructed the second building next door with 15 additional units, the lobby, a library, a club room, retail space, a business center, and a gym. In 2014, The Guesthouse Hotel was born.
I knew I was going to love The Guesthouse Hotel before we even arrived. As I browsed the hotel’s website, I came across the “kids” section and saw that there are DVDs, DVD players, board games, and playing cards available for families to use, for free, during their stay. Then I discovered the “kids’ menu“, an extensive list of items for traveling families to use for the duration of their stay. Things like baby monitors, high chairs, strollers, and Baby Bjorns are available at no charge. We requested ahead of time to have a folding crib in our suite for my toddler, as well as a bathing kit, which the kids loved. The bathing kit is a Rubbermaid container filled with all kinds of bath toys, a bath spout, child-size towels and wash cloths, and even a kneeling pad for parents. It was immediately clear to me that The Guesthouse Hotel isn’t just family friendly; it completely caters to families. The wonderful hotel staff proved this to be true during our stay.
We stayed in a two-bedroom suite on the third floor. From the time we arrived until the time we opened the door to the suite, everything said “hotel”. But as soon as we walked into the suite, everything said “home”. It was like no other hotel accommodation we’ve ever had. Even 6-year-old Lucia said, “This is not a regular hotel room!” The kids immediately ran down the hallway, through the gourmet kitchen and the living room, to the sliding glass doors leading to the spacious, protected balcony. Even though it was cold and snowing, the kids enjoyed standing out there watching the snow fall and the traffic below. I could see that balcony being a favorite spot in warmer weather – there’s even a gas grill! But back to that gourmet kitchen… I fantasized about remodeling my kitchen at home to look like the one in our suite. It’s very modern with stainless steel appliances and all the accessories and necessities you can think of. Once we were able to tear the kids away from the balcony, they noticed the special items left on the kitchen counter for them by hotel staff. There were coloring books, crayons, and even travel journals for them to keep. This little gesture officially won me over.
The master bedroom has an en suite bathroom and a walk-in closet that is as big as my son’s bedroom at home. Seriously, I was in love. The second bedroom has a queen bed and generous closet space, as well. There was enough space in that second bedroom for us to put the folding crib so both kids could sleep in the same room. The second bathroom has a full tub (that’s where the kids played for quite some time with the toys from the bathing kit) and is situated right next to the second bedroom. It’s an optimal set-up for traveling families. Everyone can enjoy the comforts of home and still have separate space and privacy.
The suite itself was fantastic but my favorite part of the hotel was the library. It’s the type of space I dream of having in my house one day when I grow up. My nerd child was super excited about it, as well, even asking hotel staff if there were any books about Abraham Lincoln. Veronica, one of the lovely hotel staff members we met, took the time to look through the children’s book collection to find something – anything – related to Abraham Lincoln. Sure enough, she found a story about Honest Abe in one of the books and it truly made Lucia’s day. There’s a giant trunk in a corner of the library that looks like a treasure chest. Kids will think they did find treasure when they open it, as there are all kinds of toys for them to use. They can play with the toys there in the library, bring them up to their rooms, or spread out and play in the adjoining club room. Some boutique or luxury hotels may frown upon such activity but at The Guesthouse Hotel it is welcomed.
And the club room… oh my. I spent a great deal of time relaxing on the couch while Lucia hung out in the library. It gave me a chance to appreciate the Chicago-focused and local art adorning the walls, as well as the complimentary coffee and tea.
The Guesthouse Hotel’s mantra is “live like a local”. Guests are encouraged to get out and explore Andersonville. Back at the hotel, the notion is taken a few steps further. At The Collection, the hotel’s in-house boutique, you will find products and items only from Chicago designers and artists. The hotel has relationships with area markets to provide guests locally-produced foods, baked goods, and even adult beverages, all of which can be delivered directly to your suite.
In addition to all this awesome, The Guesthouse Hotel also offers complimentary parking in individual, secured garage spaces (if you have a giant SUV like we do, you’ll get an uncovered parking space). And the icing on the cake: free and reliable WiFi.
We were sad when it was time to depart The Guesthouse Hotel. We all enjoyed our stay immensely. It was just fun and comfortable. I’m not the only one who was won over. I had to promise Lucia that we will try to stay there again.
My family and I were hosted by The Guesthouse Hotel and Select Registry. As always, all words and opinions are my own.