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STAYCATIONS Hard Rock Hotel: A thematic spot that's a lot of fun
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Staycations have been popular for a number of years, and the advantages of having one in a city the size of Chicago are numerous—including being able to check out sights you normally miss out on, for various reasons.

I recently had the chance to check out the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago ( 230 N. Michigan Ave.; HardRockHotelChicago.com ), and left with a new appreciation of this place—which, admittedly, some have said they've shunned because it seemed a little "hokey."

However, I learned that it can be fun to embrace the thematic aspect of Hard Rock—as I stayed on the Led Zeppelin floor. There was just enough to let you know which floor I was on, including a mini-exhibit of the group upon stepping off the elevator. There was also a Led Zep quote on a mirror ( "Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream...," from the song "Kashmir" )—and inexplicable artwork of David Bowie in the bathroom. Interestingly, the music in my room when I entered was old-school soul ( Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Bad Luck" ). ( Note: I really appreciated the door sign. Instead of "Do Not Disturb," it read, "Not now. My ego needs a rest." )

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The room itself was gorgeous, with a modern feel. I was initially thrown off because I was looking for a book with the hotel's amenities listed; however, acknowledging our tech-filled world, each room is outfitted with a touch tablet that lists Hard Rock's many offerings. One of said offerings is the "Sound of Your Stay" program, which delivers a guitar free of charge to your room, along with a headphone amplifier and Nixon headphones. There's also the program "tracks," which lets visitors downloads playlists that some of the biggest celebrities in the world have selected.

Something I encountered really quickly was the friendliness of the staff—and even of the guests. I spoke with one family in an elevator about the Chicago Bears during the entire ride. Also, I talked with a staffer about Hard Rock; she said that she's been there eight years and that the "hotel is so lovely."

The gym had just about everything I wanted. ( Yes, I worked out during my staycation and, yes, there was a musical aspect there as well—Fergie song lyrics on the mirrored wall. ) And that gym was warranted after dining at the two establishments there: Chuck's Restaurant and the Jamaican eatery Mr. Brown's Lounge. ( Also, the hotel is offering a Jamaican staycation hotel package through March 31 that includes a platinum room upgrade, a parking discount and $20 credit in Mr. Brown's Lounge. )

In addition, one very obvious plus of Hard Rock is its location. Being location right on Michigan Avenue in the Loop, it's mere steps away from Grant Park, Soldier Field and the Magnificent Mile, among other attractions.

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, for many reasons, is an excellent place to have a staycation ( or to have your relatives stay for a visit ).

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