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STAYCATION REVIEW The Robey: A stylish, fun time in Wicker Park
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-08-29

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There has been a lot of buzz about The Robey Chicago ( 2018 W. North Ave.; TheRobey.com ) concerning everything from its restaurant to its rooftop—so I figured I had to check out this spot.

( By the way, The Robey takes its name from Robey Street, the north-south artery that would become Damen Avenue. It was the hotel's objective from the start to honor the skyscraper's renowned past while bringing a fresh, new perspective. )

What I discovered was a spot that was stylish and fun. Here's a closer look at what a stay was like.

—Location: The Robey's location is one of the most striking things about it. Unlike most of the hotels I've profiled that are along the lakefront or steps from Michigan Avenue, The Robey is in the heart of Wicker Park. ( Wicker Park, which has changed significantly from the artsy '90s, has plenty of cool restaurants and stores to experience. )

However, it's actually not that far from the Loop, as it's steps from the Blue Line stop that can have you at Sears, uh, Willis Tower in about 20 minutes.

—Feel/atmosphere: Stepping into The Robey is a little like going back in time, thanks to its stately Art Deco decor. Details such as individual room keys ( as opposed to those keycards or even apps used in connection with more modern hotels ) added to the feel. The clerks at the front desk were all efficient, although the one present when I checked in seemed a bit aloof. ( Also, I attempted to leave a tip for housekeeping out of my room deposit, but apparently that couldn't be done. )

The room was fun and funky, and I was fortunate enough to have a corner room that provided dazzling views of Chicago. I also enjoyed the airiness, although I initially thought I'd need a master's degree in engineering to properly manage to buttons that control the lights and window shades. Also, I couldn't tell if the chairs had chips on the arms and legs out of neglect or—as a friend of mine commented—if that look was supposed to add to the atmosphere.

—Amenities: Cafe Robey—on the first floor and which is open for breakfast, lunch ( until 2 p.m. ) and dinner—reflects the feel of the rest of the hotel, and offers some very tasty dishes. ( The risotto, which we got with salmon, was incredible, as was the fried-chicken sandwich, believe it or not. ) A special shout-out goes to the extremely friendly staff, including server Nikita, a woman with a bright smile who was more than attentive. ( Note: The cafe has debuted new menus under the direction of recently appointed Executive Chef Kevin McAllister. )

As for hangout spots, The Robey offers two: rooftop lounge Up and Up ( on the 13th floor ) and The Cabana Club ( on the sixth ), the latter of which requires a different elevator to access. I try not to use the word "stunning" too often, but the views that both of these spots offer are just that—although it can get a little windy and cooler at night ( which I actually appreciated ).

There is no workout facility or spa at the hotel, but a guest pass can be arranged with Verge Fitness ( right down the street ) for $12/day.

Bottom line: The Robey Chicago is a wonderful place to stay—or even to visit if you're thinking of checking out the restaurant or lounges. This boutique hotel ( which is planning to expand even as this article is published ) offers plenty, and actually benefits from being away from the Michigan Avenue scene.

Note: This hotel visit was based on an arranged invitation.


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