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Archive for September, 2015

CAA Hotel: The Rest & The Restaurants

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The night we checked into the CAA Hotel, we spent but two minutes in our suite before sprinting back down to the lobby level to make our 9:30 dinner reservation at The Cherry Circle Room.

CherryCircleRoomPlate

There was squid-ink-tinted pasta and fish that felt like chicken. (Which was a definitive treat for pescetarians like us.)

CherryCircleRoomRestaurant

And mood lighting radiating from every direction.

CherryCircleRoomBooth

The antique heradlry banners added to the secret lair flare of the establishment – the symbols and motifs recurring in the embossing of the menu covers and stitching on the table napkins.

CherryCircleRoomNapkin

Scanning the shelves around the S-shaped bar was basically like window-shopping a perfectly curated antique store.

CherryCircleRoomBar

The built-in clock from the Association’s original restaurant was still ticking, if not a bit tarnished. Someone be a sport and buy me a book about built-in clocks in last-century public spaces, or at least start a Tumblr about ’em. They’re everything!

CherryCircleRoomClock

Since we were in Chicago to celebrate the ultra-successful launch of Hurly’s new computer coding school, and reward ourselves for the ceaseless weekends we’d all spent Allen-wrenching the campus into existence the past year, we asked for the Cherry Circle Room dessert menu up front. (And then, shocker – rushed down for malts at Shack Shack instead.)

CherryCircleRoomDuo

For breakfast, both days (cause Hurly and Kaya were so hooked) we took the elevator all the way up to Cindy’s Rooftop Bar and ordered family-size portions of pancakes and bagels with lox. In the club’s original days Cindy’s was…notably…um, nothing. Just a roof. But who needs history and decorative relics when you have a swath of skylights as your ceiling, and the maple syrup comes spiked with rum?

CindysRooftopBrunch

Face-stuffing aside, the beds up in our suite had Faribault Mills blankets folded atop them and pommel horses stationed beneath them.

CAABed

The hallway art was often of fleets and always on fleek.

ChicagoAthleticAssociationArt

Without a doubt, it was a truly winning visit to the windy city.

GalleryArtWallTwo

I don’t or won’t leave a space/place I love without taking its energy home with me as ongoing inspiration. Since we returned home I’ve already picked up a set of old Indian clubs that look like they were sculpted from the planks at the fancy Shake Shack, and this weekend I’m coaching Hurly on how to recreate my favorite of the abstract paintings from the hotel’s drawing room.

Souvenirs in spirit only are souvenirs even so.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: Game On

Monday, September 21st, 2015

If slumping around, staring at chesterfield sofas isn’t enough action for you, there’s peppier fun to be had in the CAA Hotel’s Game Room.

ChicagoGameRoom

With pool and foosball and shuffleboard tables to take on…

Game

And an indoor bocce court that always seemed already occupied.

ChicagoBocceCourt

I quite enjoyed the opportunity for some friendly competition, but still spent most of my time gawking at the green leathers, high-glossed tables, and built-in trophy cases the space had been spruced up with.

GameRoomBooths

Friday night the Game Room roared with the flirting of Tindr-trained hipsters and yuppies, but during the day there was plenty of peace and elbow-room to be found.

GameRoomArt

The bar menu offered Cream Soda Floats and Raspberry Beignets(!) that our daily Shake Shack-snacking sadly prevented us from ever ordering.

CAAGameRoomWill

Just outside the Game Room is the Milk Room – which was given its name during Prohibition when whisky and rum weren’t wetting anyone’s whistles.

MilkRoom

Today, The Milk Room serves coffee and tea and donuts and such. I only ever got around to the tea, but I’ve learned from my mistake, and will go harder next time.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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.

ChicagoAthleticFront

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.

FirstFloorTile

Also at ground level, for public over-indulgence, is the most glorious and glossiest Shake Shack in America.

ShakeShackChicago

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.

WillReesElevator

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?

Sigh…

ChicagoAthleticAssociationHotel

Then the elevator doors open and you walk into a tartan and turkish-rugged wonderland.

CAAHotelLobby

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.

CAAArt

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.

ChicagoAthleticAssociationHotelLobby

FireplaceWide

But when a space’s fireplace is huge enough to incorporate two conversation seats within it…

FireplaceFootball

…and features wooden relief sculptures of century-old footballing brutes, how can you not freak for the majestic chic of it all?

CAAHotelLibrary

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!

 

Fiele For Fall

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The bottles come tied up in earthy little satchels.

PogostemonParfum

And the labels are made of linen-y fabric, lending your dresser top tray an extra dose of luxe.

FieleFragrances

I usually pick out a new fragrance for fall and this year I went with Fiele’s Pogostemon. It looks so rich, and with its Indonesian patchouli base it smolders with a spiced, camp-fiery scent perfectly mood-enhancing for the season ahead.

Fiele offers four other wildcrafted and organic scents including Cedrus (cedar) and Myrrha (myrrh), but Pogostemon definitely had my name spritzed all over it.

I Shouldn’t Have

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

I almost didn’t buy it. It was a last-season, last-minute, add-on purchase that my wardrobe definitely didn’t need, and therefore I felt gun-shy and guilty about going for it.

UniqloDownCardigan

But in person, on this person, it looks brag-ily cool and actually will probably get much more wear this fall than the initial item in my Uniqlo cart that I’d ordered with way greater gumption. The v-necked cardigan shape of it is neatly Japanese-y while everything else about the jacket is Maine-y and military and familiar. It’s lean and light and layer-able, to boot – lending it tons of versatility.

So, phew!

More and more I make fashion purchases with such a strategic, slow stringency. It’s a rush to remind myself that careless impulse buys can occasionally pay off as well.