Content and community editor Beth Shearing jets off to Chicago for a family reunion in aid of her sister's 30th birthday...

Hancock Tower Chicago

Where I went

This vibrant city sits on the edge of Lake Michigan. As well as being famed for impressive architecture and blues music, sports fans flock there to catch basketball, ice hockey and baseball games. My sister is studying for a PhD at The University of Chicago and her 30th birthday gave my husband and I the perfect excuse to fly over for a visit.

What I did

The weather gods treated us to blue skies and golden sunshine, so we took the opportunity to do most of our exploring on foot.

We devised a jam-packed schedule to ensure we made the most of our time, beginning with a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo and a stroll along the famous Navy Pier.

We then marvelled at the glittering skyscrapers on the Riverwalk, browsed the stores on the Magnificent Mile and watched tourists milling around The Bean – a sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor – from the comfort of Cindy’s rooftop bar.

We also sipped cocktails at sunset on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building – the views from the lounge are simply breathtaking.

The Bean Chicago

Where I stayed

Situated on a lovely tree-lined residential road in the glitzy downtown Gold Coast area of the city, the Thompson Chicago made a fantastic base.

We booked a dual-aspect corner room showing Lake Michigan on one side and an impressive cityscape on the other. Watching the sunrise armed with locally brewed coffee and a newspaper became a daily ritual as we struggled to adjust to the six-hour time difference.

The hotel is also home to Nico Osteria, a fabulous Italian restaurant offering lots of tempting dishes. The brown butter gelato is not to be missed.


What I ate

We surprised my sister with an indulgent brunch of Texas toast served with avocado and scrambled eggs at the delightfully decadent 3 Arts Club Cafe.

With its tree-lined atrium, plenty of candles, a chic grey and white colour scheme and shimmering chandeliers, the interiors of this historic building are to die for.

And no visit to Chicago would be complete without having a deep-dish pizza pie.

A couple of slices made a great pick-me-up after a busy morning’s sightseeing.

Travel details

We flew direct to O’Hare International Airport from London Heathrow in just under nine hours; for fares, visit Rooms at Thompson Chicago start from £175 per night, visit