It was a men’s athletic/social club built in 1893, now newly resurrected as a grand hotel, with interior design courtesy of the team behind the ACE New York. I mean, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t drag Hurly to The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel for an investigative getaway.
The first floor of the building is somewhat of a gateway to the true hotel above, but retains the club’s original Euro-style tile and impressive marble stairways.
Also at ground level, for public over-indulgence, is the most glorious and glossiest Shake Shack in America.
Shakes and/or super malty malts were ordered all of our three days in Chicago. On the handout for the self-guided architour I later gave myself I learned that “What is now Shake Shack used to house the club’s Turkish bathes.” Definitely the best and most swoon-worthy sentence I’ve read in quite some time.
To rise above the black + white shakes and get to the hotel proper guests take one of four elevators paneled with original court flooring featuring the old Fencers Club insignia. How’m I supposed to truly live now, knowing that old club is dead?
Then the elevator doors open and you walk into a tartan and turkish-rugged wonderland.
Lots of leaf-colored leathers, and electric Edison bulbs. The hotel’s a working time machine with just enough mid-century and modern tweaks to lead the eye back toward present day.
I spent a lot of time just purring at all the swanky grandeur while Hurly and my sixteen year old niece traded amused glances at my decor-oriented rapture.
But when a space’s fireplace is huge enough to incorporate two conversation seats within it…
…and features wooden relief sculptures of century-old footballing brutes, how can you not freak for the majestic chic of it all?
The morning after we arrived my niece’s allergies hit like bricks, so she and Hurly lazed up in our suite all afternoon. I didn’t mind having to entertain myself though. I hunkered down in the library-like room one step up from the hotel lobby and studied my favorite of the club’s decorative arrangements: large leather daybed, kilim pillow piles, and odd-coupled oil paintings arranged gallery wall style.
Whole hours of my life passed, exactly like that.
There’s lots more club to show, and I’m a gonna show it all!