In my other life I’m a travel writer, which is why if you regularly tune into this blog you’ll notice that I go away on an inordinate amount of quickie weekend trips, such as here, here, here, here, and who could forget here and even here?
Chicago happens to be in my top three all-time favourite American cities: The architecture! The food! The museums! The shopping! The spas! So when the nice people at Trump International invited a few of us to town on a recent weekend to test the Trump lifestyle ahead of the January 31st grand opening of Trump Toronto, I packed my fancy pants and boarded the Porter flight to the Chi-town.
Turns out it was the busiest weekend of the year, with festivities surrounding the 20th annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on the Saturday night. The festival starts the holiday season in earnest with a grand parade led by Grand Marshals Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends. The Trumps even invited a couple of real reindeer to the festivities. Thousands of people took in the glittery parade and fireworks — a mass of humanity woven across bridges and through the streets, while we took in the view from our plush chairs in the Trump Chicago hotel's buzzy Rebar cocktail lounge. So great.
I also ate really well. A fantastic big and boisterous restaurant called Quartino is just a few blocks from the hotel, and chef John Coletta and crew basically sent out the entire menu for us. They make everything in-house, from the mozzarella to the sauces and sausages, salumi and pastas and desserts.
As a side note, I also loved Quartino’s bathrooms — they’re totally old school, and instead of soap dispensers they have authentic soap powder dispensers! The food at the Trump hotel was also top-tier, and taking in the skyline during breakfast on the 16th floor restaurant (called Sixteen) is a truly special way to start the day.
When I wasn’t eating or shopping (Nordstrom is just over a block from the hotel — yikes) we did things like take in an architecture boat tour on the river, the last one of the season (it was freeeezing). I also had not one, but two amazing spa treatments (do request John for your massage at the Trump), and an incredible facial at the elegant Peninsula Hotel.
And then I ended the weekend, as a good food editor should, with a famous buttermilk doughnut from The Doughnut Vault.
Bottom line: You just can’t go wrong with a weekend in Chicago.
1-6. Amy Rosen