The Drake Hotel, located at the north end of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, is synonymous with luxury and history. From its opening in 1920 until today it has remained a symbol of elegance.
When it opened in 1920, the Drake Hotel was situated between the mansions of the Gold Coast and the new commercial district of Michigan Avenue. Earlier in the year the Michigan Avenue Bridge was completed and with it began a new era for the stretch of road between the Chicago River and the bend in Lake Michigan.
Brothers Tracy and John Drake purchased the property the Drake sits on from Potter Palmer in 1916. Designed by Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox, the hotel’s Italian Renaissance style immediately made it a landmark. This was solidified when WGN began broadcasting from the hotel in 1924.
The Drake family sold the hotel during the Great Depression, but their name and the reputation they’d built remained.
Over the years the hotel has continued to focus on innovation with quality. Their rooms were the first to have air conditioning and to have color televisions. Incorporating ice machines was delayed, however, until the quality from the machines could replicate that of handmade cubes. They also kept an elevator operator years after one was necessary because it was seen as a point of service.
Guests at the hotel have several options. In addition to standard guest rooms, there are also Deluxe Rooms. These 430 square-feet rooms have windows that actually open, something that is unusual in hotels of today. There are also Executive Rooms, which provide access to the Executive Lounge on the 11th Floor. Family Rooms and Suites have additional space and some, private bedrooms.
Several dignitaries and celebrities have stayed at the Drake Hotel over the years, including Queen Elizabeth, the Minister of Australia, and the Italian President. Princess Diana stayed at the hotel and now one of the most luxurious Chicago hotel suites is named after her. Another is the Presidential Suite, also at the Drake.
The Drake Hotel is almost as well known for its restaurants and bar as it is for the hotel itself. Coq d’Or is a quintessential Chicago bar that features a dark wood and leather interior and classic cocktails. If it makes you think of Prohibition, it should. It opened in 1933 the day after the temperance law was repealed.
The Palm Court, while not technically a restaurant, is the site of the hotel’s Afternoon Tea service. Each day you can enjoy this refined experience, and from Wednesday through Sunday it will be accompanied by a harpist.
Other dining options include Cafe on Oak, serving American cuisine for breakfast. Lavazza Espression offers a taste of Italy with espresso, gelato, and freshly baked pastries.
Although it is located right on the Magnificent Mile, guests need not leave the Drake Hotel if they desire to do some convenient shopping. Georg Jensen Jewelry and Van Cleef & Arpels provide classic jewelry, and Hildt Galleries specializes in American and European oil paintings from the 18th through the 20th centuries.