As soon as you enter the elevator at Chicago’s trendy ACME hotel, you’ll notice they’re trying to do something different. The hotel, located in the Windy City’s bustling, big-box River North neighborhood, is surrounded by chain restaurants and hotels whose specialties do not reside in the personality department. But at the ACME, where said elevator is lined with album covers from pop and rock legends like Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen, personality matters. As you approach your room, you’ll notice another unusual touch: a small chalkboard hangs on the door. This is obviously the hotel’s cheeky way of adding some fun to the normally staid “Do Not Disturb” process. And fun is what my friends and I had. We covered the board with an inside joke that will not be repeated here.
The room itself is another indication that the ACME, located just blocks away from Chicago’s shopping mecca, the Miracle Mile, (the River North neighborhood, to be exact) exists not just to shelter you, but to show you a good time. A painted pop-art lipstick print is smooched on the bathroom mirror (it doubles as a night light), and giant hand prints adorn the wall. The furniture is retro cool, and the technology is state-of-the-art. Just outside the windows, in installation of acrobatic sculptures adds to the hotel’s irreverent vibe.
The ACME itself used to be a Comfort Inn, and it’s as if the new owners have done everything in their power to shroud the hotel from its rather drab past. There are small touches, like the “knock and drop” morning coffee service, which is exactly what it sounds like, to larger overhauls, like the Berkshire Room, a stunning, Prohibition-era craft cocktail lounge that dabbles in Gatsby elegance. To the left of the entrance is the West Town Bakery, a friendly shop that serves the best coffee we had in Chicago. The hotel comes with all the other amenities you’d expect from a place that actively tries to provide its guests with a memorable stay, but where the ACME really excels at is creating an atmosphere that’s both playful and comfortable.