Doubles start at $179 a night.
This contemporary, tech-oriented hotel in the city's downtown is just off Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile. From the moment you enter the 130-room property, there's a playful, arty vibe: a blue neon "vacancy" sign beckons in the window, while staff members sport work-shirt uniforms monogrammed with "Acme Hotel Company." Elevators are lined with album covers -- the Eurythmics, Lady Gaga, the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- that give a sense of the target 20- to 40-something clientele. During my stay, I saw older couples visiting with children as well as young singles with backpacks. All were catered to equally well by the friendly front-desk staff.
The hotel is centrally situated in the River North section of town, two short blocks west of retail heaven on Michigan Avenue and across the street from Design Within Reach and Bloomingdale's Home interiors store. The upscale neighborhood, filled with buzzy new restaurants and bars, is popular with stylish locals who have money to spend.
Hardwood floors, bright orange "lip" chairs, and industrial-pipe light fixtures make for an eclectic look with a grungy flair; cheeky decorative touches include white ceramic flying pigs on shelves, a chalkboard on the door (to signal housekeeping), and a hotel "instruction manual" with cartoon line drawings. My third-floor double room looked north over Ohio Street (I had an excellent view of the gorgeous ornate brick of the Medinah Temple, built by the Shriners in 1912). Gadget-savvy young clientele will like the sharp technology on offer -- wireless Zeppelin audio systems, free superfast Wi-Fi, 46-inch LED TVs that easily plug into your laptop for Internet streaming -- and comfortable, apartmentlike touches like a granite-topped wet bar and cushy seating.
Clean and basic, with a white subway-tile bath, glass partitioned shower and granite counters. In keeping with the hotel's cheerful attitude, the vanity mirror features a big red lipstick imprint that is actually a working night light. Lavender- and citrus-scented toiletries are by California-based Lather.
Wi-Fi is included. If you call or book directly with the hotel online, breakfast -- a somewhat anemic ham and Cheddar croissant, cold breakfast baguette, or granola and yogurt during my visit -- is included. The "knock and drop" morning coffee service, in which a thermos is left at your door, is always free; unfortunately, the hotel "ran out" of thermoses the morning I was there, though staff members did agree to bring up takeout coffee containers. A full room-service menu will be offered when the restaurant and lounge, the Berkshire Room, opens later this month. It will specialize in classic cocktails and small plates. There's a fitness center and a hot tub -- complete with beach ball -- plus a sauna on the lower level.
The affordable, well-situated hotel has a cheekily hip, rock 'n' roll aesthetic that's targeted at the Internet generation. It fulfills a need in the neighborhood, which has plenty of chain hotels and expensive lodgings lacking personality. But what the hotel lacks is a centralized hangout spot. The new restaurant and bar will add that much-needed social hub.
Acme Hotel Company, 15 East Ohio Sreet, Chicago; (312) 894-0800; acmehotelcompany.com.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.