Tips from 35,000 Feet: Chicago

By: Katie Manning

January 8, 2013

To leave Chicago without dipping your toes (or indeed fully submerging yourself) in the art scene, we think, would be a crime. The galleries are generally centred in Wells and Superior Streets in River North and in the West Loop, and we love exploring them in the evenings after a day of sightseeing. If it’s museums that float your boat, then make sure to get yourself a Chicago CityPass, which allows you to hit five of the best museums for a heavily reduced rate.
The Peninsula Hotel | ChicagoThe Peninsula Hotel, Chicago © The Peninsula Hotel

Chicago has a plethora of fantastic hotels, but we are unashamedly stuck on The Peninsula Chicago. It’s rightly earned its reputation of one of the the best in the United States, with its flawless service and zen-like vibe that pervades every space. We love the marble baths and oversized mattresses and if you do manage to emerge from your heavenly room, be sure to keep an eye out for celebrities – Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts (among many, many more) have stayed here in the past”¦

Chicago | Alinea
Alinea, Chicago © Alinea

Chicago is also home to acclaimed restaurants, including – Alinea. However, if you find yourself without a booking there (which is quite a likely scenario), have no fear. Chef Grant Achatz has ventured into the world of Chicago nightlife and opened The Aviary, which is a bar almost as forward thinking as his theatrical food creations.

The Aviary | ChicagoThe Aviary Chicago © The Aviary

There are no bartenders, no bar, and instead there’s a “˜drinks kitchen’, which gives you some idea of how delicious the cocktails taste! We especially love “˜The Blueberry’ with its fresh herbs and fruit inside a hand-crafted glass. And one more word of advice – if you get lucky, you may get invited downstairs to the exclusive Office. If asked, don’t question it. Just Go.

The Purple Pig | ChicagoThe Purple Pig, Chicago © The Purple Pig


If cocktails don’t constitute a meal substitution for you, then we highly recommend sampling the food at The Purple Pig. We can’t get enough of its Mediterranean-inspired small plates – especially the “˜smears’ of things like Pork Liver Pate and Whipped Feta with Cucumbers. It’s great for a casual dinner and its location on the Magnificent Mile means you’ll be close to, well, just about everything when you eventually roll yourself out.


We know you love Chicago, too, so share your favourite hotspots with us!


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning

Categories: Our Places