(©InterContinental Hotels Group)
Worth a peek even if you don’t stay here, this historic 792-room hotel was built in 1929 for the Shriners men’s association as their luxury Medinah Athletic Club, but closed in 1934 due to the stock-market crash. After a major renovation effort that involved the restoration consultant for the Sistine Chapel, the hotel opened in 1990 and then, in 2001, debuted its ornate mosaic tile–floored, 4-story lobby—the only hotel with a front entrance directly opening to the Magnificent Mile. Recalling the opulence of its initial life are spaces like the themed banquet rooms—King Arthur Foyer and Court, the decadent Louis XVI–style Renaissance Room, the Grand Ballroom (boasting North America’s largest Baccarat crystal chandelier)—as well as the Spanish Tea Court with its Majolica tile–lined fountain, and the original junior Olympic-size pool where late Tarzan movie star Johnny Weissmuller once trained. Recently redone rooms sometimes reveal their age in their odd sizes and shapes, but they convey a welcoming, classic charm and include free access to that pool (though there’s a fee for use of the accompanying fitness center).