The Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel
Billed as the "longest continuously operating hotel in North America."
This hotel was originally opened in 1871, just thirteen days before the Great Chicago Fire reduced it to ashes. Chicago real estate baron Potter Palmer immediately built a new hotel on the site --- at three times the size of the original and ten times the cost. It was the first Chicago hotel to have fireproofing, elevators, electricity and telephones, and was the home-away-from-home of such colorful figures as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Right in the middle of the Loop, this 1,639-room hotel has all the usual guest services. Although standard rooms tend to run small, they were rejuvenated with the Palmer House's history in mind, so that each is individually decorated with turn-of-the-century details and art, as well as modern amenities. Suites are more than equipped with luxurious goodies, featuring complimentary breakfast plus hors doeuvres, non-alcoholic beverages in the evening. Even without attending hotel activities such as magic performances, afternoon tea and live jazz, there's no shortage of entertainment on hand. Located on "State Street, that great street," the hotel is within walking distance of shopping, Millennium Park, Willis Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum Campus.