On my recent weeklong stay in Chicago, I discovered there is much to love at the Hotel Burnham. There are also a few areas in need of minor improvement – from my perspective as both interior designer and traveler. I must say the location and the building itself are terrific!
The hotel occupies a renovated office building built in 1895 and many beautiful architectural features remain. We stayed in suite 804 – below is the room’s old office door and the charming 8th floor elevator lobby.
The common areas on the first floor are equally beautiful. The small lobby hosts a wine reception each evening, a Kimpton trademark. I adore the orange chairs! Note the contrast welt and cutout back on the lobby sofa. Details make a difference!
The largest rooms/suites at the Burnham feature a bedroom and living space, separated by French doors. Unfortunately, the French doors only have sheer curtains, so anyone trying to sleep in the bedroom is subjected to light from the living area. The king bed is very comfortable. There is a canopy of sorts over the bed, which doesn’t appear to have any relationship to the room, although it does camouflage the smoke detector and sprinkler head. The ceilings are quite high, adding volume to a small floor space (the French doors scrape along the side of the bed as you try to close them). The left corner quarter-round side table is stylishly delightful, but the lamps in both rooms appear under-scale.
The seating area features a fabulous mirror and a tiny settee. Sadly, the settee is uncomfortable for one person, and impossible for two! The only other seat in the room is the desk chair. Also, that little settee does not turn into a pull-out, which seems a lost opportunity for flexibility, especially for a hotel as friendly to children as the Burnham.
The bathroom is very small but well appointed. Aveda toiletries elevate the experience. Of course, the trademark Kimpton animal print robes are at hand.Suite 804 had windows on two sides, both with excellent downtown views. The hotel is easy walking distance to many Chicago attractions, including Millenium Park, the Cloud Gate (jellybean) and the Jay Pritzger Pavilion, seen in the background below.
Service at the hotel is generally quite good and always friendly. The restaurant, Atwood Café, serves a wonderful breakfast. Service here was outstanding in the morning. In the evening, we did have dinner here once, and service was not as good. Also, the menu is fairly eclectic, making it tricking to feed a picky young diner. There are better nearby options for dinner if you are traveling with young children, but adults would thoroughly enjoy the fare. Any place that serves up Red Velvet Cookie Dough for dessert is worth a try in my book!
One personal difficulty at the Atwood: the banquette seating at the tables closest to the windows. It's hard to see in the picture below, but the banquettes look terrific with an asymmetrical back. Unfortunately, the lower side of that back provides zero support for diners and hit my back at a painfully low height. Just a word of caution for anyone above average height.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at the Burnham. However, after a week, the room issues I mentioned were looming large for our party of three. I do recommend the hotel, but would myself opt for a larger space in another hotel next time. The Burnham's rooms are ideally suited to a maximum of two travelers.