Checking In: Chicago

Mid-American beauties

The Peninsula hotel's Peninsula Suite ( $5,500; 312-337-2888; gets our vote for the best place in Chicago to throw a party. It doesn't even really feel like a hotel room—more like the apartment of a very stylish friend. The huge living room comes with a fireplace and a grand piano. The bedroom's French doors open onto a private terrace with hot tub and a wide-angle view of Lake Michigan. There's also a formal dining room, an office with a T-1 connection, a study with a plasma TV, and a gym. There are two other adjoining rooms for extra space (for your security detail, perhaps?), and the whole place is decorated in a thousand dollars' worth of orchids and gardenias. Up the street, the Four Seasons has refurbished its spa, redoing the pool in marble mosaic tile and adding treatments. Our favorite on the new menu is the Evening Radiance facial ($125-$170; 312-280-8800; Developed exclusively for the spa by the German company Babor, it makes use of a collagen mask to hydrate the skin and smooth wrinkles. Best of all, it's gentle enough to do the day of the party.

Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.

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