If you wanna roll like a sultan, the Intercontinental is the place to stay. The hotel, which looks like a skyscraper mosque, was built in 1929 for members of the Medinah Athletic Club.
Thankfully for modern guests of the hotel, the Medinah folks spent all their funds on lavish, Moorish-influenced interiors; included among them is the seven-story lobby with themed rooms such as the Spanish court, featuring a grand fountain and stenciled gothic arcades. There are a bevy of craftsman touches throughout the hotel, including a frieze in one of the ballrooms that depicts stories of King Arthur and Parsifal. The piece de resistance is the grand pool room: Tricked out like a Roman cabana, with palm trees and a 120,000-gallon swimming pool, it was a favorite of Olympic gold medalist and original Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller.
If you're willing to pay sultan prices, hole up in the two-story presidential suite with a gabled fireplace and luxuriant pink draperies. For the rest of us, the hotel features 791 guest rooms, each with city and lake views, a 27-inch television, high-speed Internet and a mini bar. Rooms start at $189 on weekdays and $215 on weekends. Don't blow all your money on the mini bar; the lobby bar is a traveler's oasis, serving up one of the best martinis in Chicago alongside a complimentary spicy cocktail mix. For oenophiles, Eno offers the delightful trio of wine, chocolate and cheese. But before all that drinking, you'll want to line your stomach, so head to the hotel's contemporary American restaurant, Zest, for paella and couscous.
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant