Fancy Spa Day: Chicago Edition
January 26, 2016 8:54 AM   Subscribe

My mother is having a milestone birthday, so I am trying to find a way of making the day fancy and indulgent and special. Difficulty level: Chicago, in the worst part of winter.

There will be a big family party on a foreign beach at some point later this year, but the actual day itself is, like, an awkward Wednesday in the middle of February. And she is NOT happy about this here milestone, not even a little. So sitting around and eating grocery store cake while watching Netflix is not going to cut it.

The current plan is to have:
-some kind of girly pampering mani-pedi situation
-followed by fancy cocktails (possibly with small noshes)
-followed by a fancy meal.

IDEALLY: we would do all of these things without spending too much time outside, because let's face it, Chicago in February is just pray-for-death hideous.
SO: I'm looking for a kind of magic triad, spa-bar-restaurant, all within a very short walk or a short cab ride.

I'm pretty familiar with Chicago's dining scene, so mostly what I need help with is finding a spa. Preferably, one that is a bit indulgent--maybe they bring you a mimosa while you get your toes done or something? Anyway: a shiny, kind of fancy place that does nails (she does not do facials or anything), and probably massages? I don't go to spas myself so I don't really know what's possible.

Preferred locations:
-Loop (includes West Loop)
-maaaaaaaybe Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village?

Open to other neighborhoods, but mass-transit and cab friendly are important.

TL;DR: Looking for decently fancy spas on the north side of Chi or the Loop, preferably ones that are close to other things.

Thanks in advance!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What a fun idea! I'm not sure of your budget, but the Ritz has all of the above, plus you could go two blocks away for high tea at the Drake.
posted by slmorri at 8:59 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have no specific recommendation, but this sounds like something that could happen in a boutique hotel of some sort. If you could find this, you/she wouldn't even have to leave the premises until the next day.
posted by WesterbergHigh at 8:59 AM on January 26, 2016

Response by poster: Budget is around ~400, I'd say. Siblings will be helping with the dinner portion as well, so figure a solid 300-350 for the spa and cocktails portion.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:01 AM on January 26, 2016

Juko in Wicker Park is beautiful, they bring you wine while you're getting your toes done, and I've had only wonderful experiences there. It's in Wicker Park on Division, so near lots of food and drink options -- I personally love the Winchester, though that may not be fancy enough for your purposes.
posted by in a dark glassly at 9:08 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Manicure? You got me.

Cocktails? THAT I can help you with.

Right now, the Gold Standard Bar None is The Aviary. (955 W Fulton Market) Problem: Literally every foodie and cocktail nut in the world knows this. You have to buy tickets. Seriously. But this is the acme of cocktails in the city, and always on the top 5 list of cocktails in the country. If you want the best, there it is.

If you are willing to suffer with Merely Awesome, there are four. The Violet Hour, The Whistler, Scofflaw, and Billy Sunday. All are superb. All are also not downtown, but cabs work, as does your favorite cab alternate.

For your full speakeasy experience, you go to The Violet Hour. It is popular, so if they're full, they take a cellphone number and call when there's space. You can then wander around Milwaukee/Damen for a bit. When they call, you go back and go in. Dark, moody, drapery, and really stellar drinks. I know this is for your mom, but for anyone else, this is basically the Date Night cocktail bar.

For music in a loud way, the Whistler. (2421 N Milwaukee.) The cocktails are excellent, but the bands are loud. If it's a band night, forget quiet chat. Early on, getting in is trivial. Later, it can be harder. But really, the big question here is "band." Decor wise, well, it doesn't really have any decor. But the cocktails are really nice.

For your traditional fancy bar, there's Billy Sunday.(3143 W Logan Blvd) Great cocktails, a few curveballs, one of the best looking menus (as in, the menu itself looks good) in the city, and a Fernet/Scotch book that's unbelieveable. Great decor that doesn't pretend to be anything other than a bar.

And, if you want to get your gin on, Scofflaw. (3201 W Armitage Ave) The most casual of the places, also has a stellar beer menu, and being a bit out of the way at Kedzie and Armitage, means your tourist-to-local ratio will be much more in favor of the locals.

Finally, there will be probably be a legion of people saying BUT WHAT ABOUT and they'll probably be right, I did miss that one. Chicago is large, it contains multitudes of cocktail bars. Hell, we have multiple tiki bars (warning: Real tiki drinks. Real *strong* tiki drinks!)

But I doubt you'd go very wrong with any of those. Except maybe if it's loud at the Whistler, but Billy Sunday is close by if that happens, so there's a bail out. There are also a couple of new places right near those two, but I haven't been to them yet, because I only have one liver, and they open up faster than I can drink.
posted by eriko at 9:30 AM on January 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

I have no specific recommendation, but this sounds like something that could happen in a boutique hotel of some sort.

While I've not gone there myself, I've set up a number of corporate folks at the Dana for hotel and spa accommodations and folks seem to like it. They have a lounge on the top floor that has an outdoor ice bar in winter, which I guess is kind of cool. But if you don't want to do everything on site, you're in River North with plenty of schmancy type stuff to choose from.
posted by phunniemee at 9:31 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I feel like I should clarify that the birthday girl is turning 60. I love Logan Square and Scofflaw and the Whistler as much as anyone but they are probably not a 60 year old's idea of "fancy." Or anyway, at least not THIS 60 year old's idea of fancy.

More Malory Archer than hipster trendy.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:14 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You want the Four Seasons. Their spa is awesome. Their hotel has a bar and restaurants. There's tea if you prefer it. I would have happily never left the hotel/spa when I last stayed there. They have spa packages that will meet your budget.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:27 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Billy Sunday, then. Mallory Archer probably owes them thousands by now.
posted by eriko at 10:56 AM on January 26, 2016

Winter hasn't been that bad in Chicago this year, if that helps the worrying.
posted by agregoli at 9:31 AM on January 29, 2016

Response by poster: (we live in Chicago; it's still plenty winter)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:58 AM on February 2, 2016

Shrug. Been easy in comparison!
posted by agregoli at 7:31 AM on February 4, 2016

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