Chicago is so full of history, it’s a wonder we can contain it all. Two weekends ago, I learned just how much history was encased in the Palmer House Hilton hotel (the third building by it’s name, by the way) from Director of Public Relations, Ken Price. He’s an amazing source of knowledge from the beginning of Potter Palmer’s start in the city of Chicago, to the huge fear he had of fire, with good reason, because of the Great Chicago Fire.
The amount of information that those walls may hold has to be EPIC! The hallways to the bedrooms are lined with photos of singers, actors and comics who performed at the world famous Empire Room. I happened to be on a floor that showcased Dorothy Dandridge quite a bit, and I had a bit of #BlackGirlMagic happiness going on. The hotel boasts a large amount of Impressionist art, which was collected by Bertha Palmer, the wife of Potter Palmer, and the recipient of the hotel as a wedding gift. The entire story of the building, the destruction, and the rebuilding of the hotel is fascinating and I suggest everyone who visits the city take the tour. The tour is available to anyone, whether you stay in the hotel or not, and includes a prix fixe menu at the Lockwood restaurant.
After the tour, which was a generous two hours and 30 minutes (give or take a few,) I was able to go and rest in my room that was as spacious as it was classic Chicago. I had a king sized bed all to myself, and a great area to just lounge in while watching television. I happened to be able to catch an airing of The Last Castle with Robert Redford, and the historical facts that filled that movie just seemed fitting for my time at the hotel. We’ve learned that every President with the exception of the second Bush, from Grant (the father in law to Potter’s Sister-in-Law) to Obama has stayed at this hotel.
The ballrooms are grand enough to tell a story all their own. With stories of nicotine encrusted crystals that had to be cleaned, to the stars that got their start in the Empire room. Folks such as Liberace and Sinatra. So many stories could be told I’m sure, and from the way that Price lights up while telling them, I can bet that he has many more to tell.
I can tell you that I did NOT want to leave that bed. It was so comfortable. Not too soft, not too firm, just right like baby bear loves it. As far as over decorating goes, you can see that there wasn’t much to distract from the room. Just giving you the feeling of staying in a capsule of Chicago that you just wanted to explore more. The amount of Art Deco and art in general throughout the expansive hotel is amazing. Amazing is such a simple word to describe it all, but it’s the only one that I can think of that completely embodies what I thought.
The walking tour is offered Tuesday through Saturday and is based on availability. The price is currently $70.00 per person and includes lunch. You can book your tour by calling the hotel at 312-917-3404. Wear comfortable shoes, and bring your listening ears!