Widely acknowledged as the father of the boutique hotel concept, Ian Schrager has cut a wide swathe through the hospitality industry for the last three decades. His creative energy has launched ideas such as “hotel as home away from home ”and the urban resort.
Schrager’s latest brainchild is Public, a concept that blends innovative, approachable style, personalized service and value. The inaugural property in this new brand is Public Chicago, a complete transformation of the famed Ambassador East Hotel. WHAT’S IT LIKE? In their day, the Ambassador East and its restaurant, the Pump Room, played host to a multitude of celebrities – stars like Bogie and Bacall, Judy Garland and Cary Grant; John Kennedy stayed there, as did Ronald Reagan. The lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s signature Chicago paean My Kind of Town talked about “the jumpin ’Pump Room. ”No doubt, this was the place to be in the Windy City.
Not preservation, not demolition, what Schrager’s team has done is more a reinterpretation of the cultural and historical Ambassador, keeping key elements but putting them in a fresh context. For example, the crystal chandeliers that adorned the old Pump Room have been collected into a single brilliant fixture that illuminates the hotel entry, while the restaurant itself gets a funky new lighting décor. WHERE IS IT? Public Chicago is located on the Gold Coast at the intersection of Goethe Street and North State Parkway. Just north of Division Street and blocks from Lincoln Park and the beaches of Lake Michigan, the downtown Chicago location is a short cab ride from Michigan Avenue and the Loop.