Sky-high luxury: A review of the new St. Regis Chicago – The Points Guy

It’s hard to make your mark in Chicago, architecturally speaking. The city rose, literally, from the ashes of the Chicago Fire in 1871, and it’s where the skyscraper was born. It boasts one of the world’s most iconic skylines and a thriving cultural scene that drew unprecedented visitor numbers in 2023 (more than 50 million), according to Choose Chicago.

Rising 1,191 feet over Lake Michigan, the shimmering, blue-glass Vista Tower that now houses the new St. Regis Chicago is the city’s most prominent architectural addition in decades. It’s also the tallest building in the world designed by a female architect (Jeanne Gang).

After a seven-year build and numerous false starts — due to supply chain issues, a buyout of the original Chinese developer (Wanda Vista Hotels) and tumultuous restaurant changes from The Alinea Group to Lettuce Entertain You — the highly anticipated St. Regis hotel and residential combination finally opened in May 2023.

Like every other Chicagoan, I watched with keen interest for years as this glossy, superlative-loaded building slowly redefined Chicago’s skyline. As the first property from the venerable St. Regis brand in the Midwest and one of just a few luxury hotels to open in the city in over a decade, St. Regis Chicago was one of the most talked-about hotel debuts in the U.S. in 2023.

With so many other high-end hotels and luxury brands in the city to choose from, though, how does it stack up? Here’s everything you need to know before booking a stay at the St. Regis Chicago.

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Getting there

The St. Regis Chicago is in Lakeshore East, a residential development at the confounding intersection of Wacker and Columbus drives. It is not easy for taxi or Uber drivers to find due to the city’s multilevel, one-way streets.

Overlooking Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, with Millennium Park (famous for Anish Kapoor’s beloved “Bean” sculpture and Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion) just south, the property is surrounded by water and parks. Top retail hubs like the glitzy Magnificent Mile and Oak Street boutiques lie just north, and the theaters and historic buildings of the Loop are a 25-minute walk away.

A taxi from O’Hare International Airport (ORD) will cost you between $40 and $50, and the ride generally takes around 45 minutes. However, the 18-mile journey can take up to 90 minutes, depending on the traffic.

If you are traveling light, you could take the Blue Line “L” train ($2.50) all the way (around 50 minutes). You’ll need to walk around 17 minutes from the Washington “L” Stop and then possibly change terminals (the station is on the lower concourse of terminals one, two and three).

From Midway International Airport (MDW), it will also take around 45 minutes in a taxi (around $40-50). You could feasibly take the Orange Line “L” train ($2.50) to the State/Lake “L,” but again, it’s a 15-minute walk and a total transit time of just more than an hour.

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Booking

There are 15 room and suite categories to choose from at St. Regis Chicago, mostly distinguished in the entry-level categories by their views (park, city or lake). Rates for an entry-level superior room start at $490 per night (or 54,000 Marriott Bonvoy points), soaring to around $877 in July and August (or 72,000 points).

Deluxe ($711) and grand deluxe (from $760) rooms are around 500 square feet and have small sitting areas with brown leather chairs and prime river views; the main difference in this category is that Grand Deluxe rooms can accommodate a rollaway bed for a third guest.

If you want to splurge on a suite, you’ll have no shortage of options. Rates start at $1,275 for a one-bedroom Metropolitan Suite with a separate living area and $3,700 for the lavish two-bedroom Caroline Astor Suite with a spacious living area and a gorgeous marble bathroom with a colossal freestanding tub. Searching random dates throughout the year, I was unable to find points availability for any of the suites, though you might be able to pay a base rate in cash and upgrade using points.

If you are traveling with pets, there is a nonrefundable fee of $150 per stay, per room.

Marriott Bonvoy cardholders can earn and burn points on any number of cobranded credit cards, including options that confer automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status for value-added benefits. These include:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Platinum Elite status and 25 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Gold Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Gold Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Gold Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Silver Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Silver Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.

The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

It’s worth noting that the latest limited-time offer for the Marriott Boundless credit card is the highest welcome offer that we’ve ever seen: five free night awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first three months from your account opening. TPG’s valuations put the total five free night awards at a maximum of 250,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at $2,100.

Related: The 17 best Chicago hotels

Standout features

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Caveats

The vibe

Behind the St. Regis Chicago’s striking, modern exterior, the timeless rituals and impeccable service associated with the brand become immediately apparent. First, there’s a warm greeting from the bell staff, then a flute of Champagne served during check-in, followed by a meet-and-greet and orientation from your dedicated butler, who will happily help you unpack.

The ground floor lobby sets the tone for a sophisticated urban retreat that takes its cues from Chicago’s storied history. Understated gray sofas, rust-red leather chairs, smoky marble floors and textured copper walls pay tribute to Chicago’s industrial roots. Meanwhile, geometric lighting, chandeliers and gleaming marble and gold accents add hints of Gilded Age grandeur.

Expect to mingle with international jet-setting families (the hotel is extremely family-friendly) loaded down with shopping bags from Michigan Avenue, as well as business travelers heading to the lakefront for a run with their dog (it’s also pet-friendly). In fine weather, fun-loving locals head up to Miru’s 11th-floor terrace for happy hour libations accompanied by artful plates of Japanese bites and stunning Lake Michigan views.

Wherever I wandered on property, the hotel staff was always preempting my needs. This was the case whether I was looking for a ride in the house car to a restaurant for dinner or if I needed fresh towels by the pool.

The room

For two nights, I stayed in the 1,479-square-foot John Jacob Astor Suite (suites at the St. Regis Chicago range from $1,275 to over $13,000 per night). A large entryway with a half-bathroom opened into a huge living-dining area centered on an expansive marble island; it had bar stools upholstered in cream leather and a wet bar. The light-filled space would be ideal for family gatherings and to enjoy room service with a little more ceremony.

Wraparound windows framed sweeping views of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and the Chicago River. It’s an excellent vantage point for summertime fireworks (every Wednesday and Saturday) and the Chicago Air and Water Show (at the end of August). All rooms in the building’s eastern “cube section” are afforded unobstructed lake views.

CAROLINE LASCOM/THE POINTS GUY

There was a large desk positioned to take in Chicago’s cityscapes that could accommodate four people; it would lend itself well to private meetings for guests traveling for work.

Tucked in the corner, a spacious kitchen was equipped with a microwave, a Nespresso coffee maker and a minibar stocked with Champagne, wine, beer and soft drinks. Drawers and countertops housed shiny glassware and dishes, and there were plenty of sundries and goodies for late-night grazing, such as canisters of chocolate nuts.

The room just kept going with high ceilings and wide hallways. The walk-in closet ran the whole length of the massive bathroom and had plenty of shelves and hangers to organize clothing and store suitcases. There was also a small dressing area with a mirror and table.

CAROLINE LASCOM/THE POINTS GUY

Throughout the suite, the decor took inspiration from the city’s lakeside location and industrial history while maintaining the St. Regis brand’s signature sheen.

A subdued color palette of light gray and sandy beige was accented with lake-toned blues. The soft carpeting and upholstered furnishings provided a cozy backdrop for a family movie night or in-room cocktails and appetizers before heading out for dinner.

In the separate bedroom, next to a king bed dressed with Frette linens and a cloud-like duvet, brass pendant lights radiated a copper glow above two modern white and blond wood nightstands.

An upholstered bench at the base of the bed was useful for unpacking and organizing clothes for the evening, but it did feel like a piece of furniture was missing from beneath the 55-inch flat-screen television mounted on the wall. The two standard rooms I toured featured the same bedroom design and finishes as the one pictured below.

Beyond the suite’s scale and dramatic views, the room’s highlight was the sumptuous spa-inspired bathroom with double vanities, and cream and coral-hued marble walls and floors. Strangely, apart from one hook outside the shower, there was nowhere to hang, fold or store towels in the bathroom itself. Instead, towels were folded neatly on shelves in the walk-in closet and on the bench inside the shower.

CAROLINE LASCOM/THE POINTS GUY

The circular soaking tub was hard to resist after a day’s sightseeing in the city, but again, a couple of thoughtful touches were missing. For example, there was nowhere to rest items like a glass of wine or a book. A huge walk-in shower tiled in gray marble was equipped with a wooden bench seat and was stocked with high-end Sachajuan products.

In the entryway, the spacious powder room had a marble-clad vanity, and there was another large WC inside the main bathroom with a separate door.

Bathroom features in standard rooms are identical in most respects, only on a smaller scale. All bathrooms at the St. Regis Chicago have large freestanding tubs.

There were well-positioned, clearly labeled consoles that controlled the various mood lighting options, as well as blackout drapes. There was a supply of outlets and USB-A ports beside the bed and beside the desk. Inside the closet, there was a large safe that could accommodate laptops, two fluffy Frette robes, two pairs of slippers, an iron, a steamer and an umbrella.

Food and drink

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The St. Regis is home to two fine-dining restaurants that belong to Chicago’s popular Lettuce Entertain You restaurant portfolio.

The 11th-floor restaurant Miru, which specializes in Japanese seafood entrees as well as sushi and shared plates, draws power-lunching locals by day and lively friend groups in the evening. The highly anticipated Tuscan steakhouse, Tre Dita, helmed by Los Angeles celebrity chef Evan Funke, is scheduled to open this winter; it will serve Tuscan cuisine, including steak and pasta created in an on-site “pasta lab.”

Designed by Rockwell Group, Miru’s modern dining room is anchored by a dramatic blue-tiled bar and marble-top sushi counter. Cream-colored fabrics, blond furnishings and leafy foliage radiate beach house vibes, even in the frigid Chicago winter. The expansive terrace with prime views over Lake Michigan and the Chicago River will surely be a local hot spot during the warm summer months.

The breakfast menu at Miru skews wholesome. It features juices such as the citrusy Eternal Life — made with pineapple, orange and ginger ($9) — and the Lean & Clean — a healthy mix of kale, cucumber, apple, lime and ginger ($9).

Along with lighter fare like coconut chia pudding with compressed mango and raspberries ($14) and steel-cut oatmeal topped with tart Michigan cherries and brown sugar ($14), it offers every conceivable egg iteration. There are also modern classics like avocado toast, topped with a poached egg and served with a side of greens ($19). The house special is the Tokyo Plate, a classic bento-style combination of grilled umami salmon, dashimaki tomato rolled omelet, rice and miso soup ($32).

St. Regis traditionalists won’t want to miss out on the brand’s signature libation, a location-inspired Bloody Mary; in Chicago, this would be the “1871,” made with F.E.W. Rye and infused with cherry-wood smoke ($22).

If you prefer to catch up on work over superb coffee (from beans roasted by the local Metropolis Coffee Company), decadent muffins and pastries, there’s also a convenient grab-and-go coffee shop option on the 11th floor with limited but inviting seating.

For dinner, shared Japanese small plates and sushi rolls are the most popular selections, with flavorful creations like sauteed shishito peppers topped with bonito ($12), a simple gem lettuce salad drizzled with kombu aioli ($14) and a hamachi maki with a zesty yuzu ponzu jelly ($18). Well-proportioned entrees include a silky black miso cod ($44) and an intensely savory grilled king salmon topped with a peanut herb sauce and umami vinaigrette ($39).

Fans of Japanese beef can also dine on signature dishes like the Miyazaki A5 wagyu zabuton ($120 for 5 ounces) or the A5 wagyu nigiri with wasabi and soy ($49).

With Colombian pastry chef Juan Gutierrez (of Netflix’s “School of Chocolate” fame) in charge of the property’s pastries and sweets, you’ll want to save room for some intriguing creations. One of these is the black sesame mochi topped with charcoal-vanilla ice cream, black sesame praline and mochi sponge ($18).

Miru’s sultry bar, where guests and locals mingle, is a seductive, after-hours spot for a final nightcap. Cocktails nod to Chicago’s history, like the mezcal-laced Smoke on the River, made with Casamigos Blanco, Laluna Mezcal, Apologue Persimmon, lime, agave syrup and togarashi ($19).

Amenities and service

Occupying the entire 10th floor, St. Regis Chicago offers state-of-the-art amenities firmly geared toward wellness and relaxation. The beautifully designed heated pool is big enough to accommodate families with inflatables as well as lap swimmers.

The soft, geometric lighting, gold and marble accents and floor-to-ceiling windows hung with gauzy charcoal-hued drapes make the space relaxing. It’s the perfect spot to toggle between reading or scrolling on a cushioned lounger with cocktails and city views on the outdoor terrace in the summertime.

The St. Regis spa is a 12,000-square-foot sanctuary decorated with soothing cream and white hues alongside soft, textured fabrics that create an instantly calming effect the moment you walk through the gilded entranceway. The hints of Jazz Age decadence continue with exclusive spa treatments from the “Caroline Astor Collection;” the 90-minute “Flawless Garden Rose” treatment includes a granita scrub followed by a full-body massage with porcelain flower oil ($405). Many treatments utilize luxe French skincare brand Sothys.

Along with more traditional massages, facials and body treatments, the spa also offers mind-body treatments such as guided meditation (30 minutes, $75) and “Where Oceans Meet,” which combines a Balinese-style massage with guided breathing techniques (90 minutes, $425).

My 60-minute Performance Massage ($225) was one of the best hotel massages I’ve experienced, with just the right amount of pressure and invigorating lemon and mandarin oil. This is also the kind of spa where you’ll want to arrive early to enjoy the facilities. You can enjoy a sauna and steam in separate men’s and women’s locker rooms or just relax by the fireplace, sipping fruit waters and sampling more bite-size sweet creations from Juan Gutierrez.

The massive fitness center has an extensive range of cardio equipment, including ellipticals, running machines, stair climbers, rowing machines and stationary bikes. There’s also an impressive number and variety of free weights and weight machines. The three studios host a daily schedule of fitness classes (yoga, barre, stretching, TRX).

Out and about

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Many of Chicago’s top attractions are within a 10- to 15-minute walk of the St. Regis Chicago. Spend a morning strolling the Magnificent Mile’s historic buildings and posh department stores, then head to Millennium Park to snap a selfie by Cloud Gate (affectionately known as “the Bean”) and admire the undulating steel ribbons of Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Theatergoers can stroll to the Loop in around 25 minutes, and fitness enthusiasts will enjoy running, cycling and rollerblading the lakefront path — also just a 10-minute walk away. The hotel provides easy access to the revitalized banks of the Chicago River and the departure point for the not-to-be-missed First Lady architecture cruises.

If you’re keen to explore further — perhaps Wrigley Field for a Cubs game, Al’s #1 Italian Beef for lunch, or Oak Street Beach — the house car will take you anywhere within a 2-mile radius on a first-come, first-served basis.

While sights are in close proximity, this primarily residential tranche of the city — complete with an elementary school right behind the hotel — doesn’t have the immediate vibrancy, attractions and people-watching you’ll find in River North and the Gold Coast (where most of Chicago’s luxury hotels and world-class restaurants are located).

For second-time and frequent visitors, though, the warm neighborhood vibes and proximity to the river and lakefront will appeal. For families, there’s a large Mariano’s supermarket and kids playground in the Lakeshore East community park, just a six-minute walk away.

Accessibility

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As a brand-new building, the accessibility features at the St. Regis Chicago exceed current ADA requirements. The main entrance is accessible via ground level, with automatic doors, as is the indoor pool, business center, fitness center, spa, meeting spaces and restaurants. The swimming pool also has a self-operating lift, and the wide hallways and elevators provide wheelchair users with maneuverability.

Accessible accommodations include bathrooms with roll-in showers and grab rails, accessible-height vanities, adjustable shower wands, wheelchair-accessible electric outlets, closed-caption televisions and more.

We always suggest that travelers with accessibility needs contact the hotel prior to booking to ensure the availability of specific features and amenities.

Checking out

Since its inception in 1904, the St. Regis brand has become synonymous with opulence, fine service and tradition. This brand-new building may not ooze the Old World charm of properties like the St. Regis Venice or the classic splendor of the original St. Regis New York. However, it manages to create its own distinct Chicago story, thanks to the decorative and culinary allusions to the city’s remarkable culture and history.

Beyond the striking architecture, elegant accommodations and discreet service, it’s the resort-style amenities that make this hotel shine. Wellness seekers, foodies, culture lovers and business travelers will find something for every mood and moment in the day — before they head out to explore Chicago. And, for well-heeled families in particular, this is perhaps the best luxury option in the city; it has a superb swimming pool and neighborhood amenities close by, such as a playground and supermarket.

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