With subzero temperatures and some serious wind, it’s totally natural to want to run away from wintertime Chicago for a tropical vacation. But even if you can’t escape the cold, it’s still possible to have a romantic weekend right in your hometown — it might still be cold outside, but you’ll hardly notice. A Chicago staycation of love, luxury, and relaxation is the perfect thing for a Windy City couple or visiting romantics.
The Renaissance Blackstone Hotel
Though the city has a slew of hotels, none is more well-stocked with history, glamour or comfort than The Renaissance Blackstone Hotel. Over a century old, it has housed famous patrons like Al Capone, although present-day celebrity guests are far less villainous. Enter the decadent but welcoming lobby – with its warm hues, chandeliers, and gold couches – and check in.
Chat up the friendly bellboy on the way to your stylish room and get ready for a night of culture and cuisine – and you won’t even have to leave the hotel. Start by browsing around the 5th Floor Art Hall. Strolling along the luxuriant red carpets, you stop to absorb the vibrant modern paintings on the walls, enjoying the leisurely indoors artwalk you’ve embarked upon. When you get hungry, sneak down to the Mercat a la Planxa restaurant and drink in the fun, flashy dancehall vibe and a flight of their house-made sangrias. Take turns tasting cheeses and charcuterie, like the Monte Crudo raw sheep’s milk cheese served with truffle lavender quince compote, and the foie amb conill – a decadent rabbit and foie gras rillette. Once you’ve filled up on small plates, retire to your room and feast your eyes on the lit-up view of the skyline over Lake Michigan.
If you’re looking for a Chicago staycation for your mind, body, and spirit, book yourselves a couples mini retreat at Allyu spa. You’ll start in the meditation tent, where ginger tea and hanging lamps – dimmed by silky drapes – make you feel like you’re in a Middle Eastern desert. Then, relish in your couple’s massage: the shortest 60 minutes in history. Open your pores in the private sauna, where you’ll be heated by soft, red light rather than steam. You’ll feel so warm and cleansed that you’ll forget there’s a howling winter still raging outside. Then wash up in your private shower room and sit back, relax, and sip Champagne over your side-by-side pedicure.
Osteria la Madia
Last but not least, a dinner for two is the perfect intimate way to end your weekend stay. Osteria la Madia in River North has recently made some menu updates that elevate this traditional Italian dining experience. You feel immediately welcome as you walk into this inviting space; decked out in wood and custard-colored walls, it’s as warm and open as the Italian people themselves.
You see several intimate corner tables, but you choose one in the middle, where even amidst all the clamor, your server makes you feel like the only table. They’re known for their pizzas, and you really should try the shaved artichoke; it is a creamy delight that will melt in your mouth just before you hit that distinctive, open-flame-oven crunch of the crust. Order a bottle of a bold, old-world wine – like a full-bodied montepulciano. Clink glasses, and mangia: A perfect meal to cap off a rejuvenating weekend in the city.