Chicago's "Hotel of Presidents," has opened as The Blackstone
, a 332-room luxury Renaissance brand hotel. The Blackstone has had many famous guests including a dozen U.S. presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and John Kennedy. The $128 million renovation of the 23-story, Beaux-Arts building includes a collection of over 1600 original artworks, primarily by Chicago artists, is on permanent display throughout the guestrooms and public spaces of The Blackstone. The hotel has updated the traditional lobby rich with gilded details , French walnut paneled walls and brilliant chandeliers with an avant garde video-generated computer art piece. The artist, Lincoln Schatz
, installed a robotic camera on The Blackstone's rooftop and programmed it to transmit changing views of Chicago's lakefront on side-by-side 50" plasma television screens located above the guest check-in pods. All rooms are equipped with a flat screen television, two-line telephone with data port, voice mail, mini bar, fine Chaz Stevens linens, complimentary in-room coffee, hairdryer and bathrobes as well as high-speed internet access (for an unreasonable $12.95 per day).
The hotel also includes ample meeting space, a health club, and a business center. There is also a "hotel within a hotel" concept, Hubbard Place, a previously unfinished space under The Blackstone's porthole-accented mansard roof that once housed mechanical equipment was transformed into the 23d floor Hubbard Place, which contains a lounge, two private boardrooms and a series of luxury suites, all overlooking Lake Michigan. Rates start in the high $200s per night for basic rooms.