2021 update: Here are the Robey's Covid-19 health and safety policies.
Ultra-cool Mexico-based Grupo Habita is at it again — demonstrating its knack for repurposing old structures in clever and contemporary ways — this time at the center of Chicago's neighboring hotspots, Wicker Park and Bucktown. The Robey, housed inside the 1929 Northwest Tower office building, is a cleaned-up, industrial-cool 89-room hotel towering over central Chicago with thirteen floors of unobstructed views, hip hangouts, brass fixtures, and a 360-degree triangular rooftop pool. Art Deco meets modern decor, which brings life to the machine made industrial elements of the building, along with the buzzing warmth of the ever-present freelancers, staycationers, rooftop dwellers, out-of-office entrepreneurs, and nightcap enthusiasts (burning the midnight oil is encouraged by the hotel's late afternoon checkout.) Come see for yourself.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Industrial Americana.
Standout Detail: The building itself, housed in the 1929 Art Deco masterpiece, is the 203-feet tall Northwest Tower, one of the first skyscrapers to be built outside the downtown area.
This Place Is Perfect For: Couples who want a local experience and cool urban crash pad, groups of friends who don't mind the top bunk, and travelers who go the distance for a great rooftop view.
Rooms: Given the Northwest Tower's dramatic triangular footprint, each of the 69 tower rooms are saturated with natural light, particularly the corner suites with eight wrap-around windows overlooking the junction of Milwaukee, North, and Damen Avenues. The decor, designed by Belgium design duo Nicolas Schuybroek and Marc Merckx, is sleek and industrial, mixing light and dark patterns with mid-century furniture and custom terrazzo tile and Calcutta marble tabletops for work and dining. The Panorama Suite offers 180-degree views of the Chicago skyline and is equipped with its own living room and private bar.
For an even more warehouse feel, twenty uniquely configured lofts are housed in the century-old neighboring Annex Building, complete with polished concrete floors, spacious ten-foot ceilings, and exposed original ductwork. All suites are arranged with flexible bed configurations and bunk beds, individual storage space, extra seating, and a workspace desk or table. There are Le Labo bath products in each room, plus in-room snacks, water bottles, and two local beers refreshed daily.
On Site: No hip and cool hotel skimps on the hip and cool co-working space. Think: natural light, vintage artwork, all-day espresso, cocktails, and free WiFi. The Robey has a second floor lounge filled with eclectic Art-Deco furniture, window views to the bustling street action, and live music and vinyl DJs sets after work hours. The party makes its way up to the sixth floor Cabana Club with 180-degree views of the Chicago skyline and passing L train, and a fittingly triangular rooftop pool with chic French-striped cabanas and chaise. Hotel guests get early-morning access to the pool (starting at 9 a.m.) before the bar opens and the crowds arrive (open May through September). There's no on-site gym, but guests receive full access to the Bucktown Athletic Club next door to the hotel.
Food + Drink: Café Robey, the street-level bistro, serves French-American comfort food all day, with clever dishes like "breakfast salad." One flight up from the café you'll find The Lounge, where your late afternoon meeting can slip into pre-dinner drinks. Cabana Club on the sixth floor has 180-degree views of the city and a menu of cocktails by the carafe. If your night calls for a nightcap — as all good nights do — make your way to the tippity-top at the thirteenth-floor Up Room cocktail bar. Grab an Oaxacan On Broken Glass spicy mezcal cocktail and hang on the sexy low-leather seating or head to the terrace and view the twinkly skyline atop the tallest building for miles.
What to Do Nearby
The hotel borders two quintessential Chicago neighborhoods: Wicker Park, with its tree-lined streets, Insta-worthy Victorian homes, and immigrant community roots; and Bucktown, with its galleries, boutiques, and artist community feel. Both are firmly rooted in the 19th century's architecture and showcase a modern evolution with of-the-moment restaurants, such as The Bento Box, a Japanese hotspot with just a dozen seats and five courses that change daily, and Dove's Luncheonette, serving all-day Mexican fare with an old jukebox and diner seating. Check out The 606, the elevated track-turned-greenway pulsing with art installations and forward-thinking landscape design. Named after the first three digits in every Chicago zip code, it's the best way to stroll from East and West on the Northside.