17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603 312-726-7500
“He (Herman Holmes) told her about Chicago. He described its skyscrapers and explained how each year its skyscrapers grew taller and taller… And romantic stories: how Potter Palmer had been so in love with his wife, Bertha that he had given her a luxurious hotel, the Palmer House, as a wedding present.” Page 63
In Real Life:
In The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson recounts how Herman Holmes snared a young woman with romantic stories and this particular story Holmes told was true. I looked it up. It turns out Bertha Palmer really did receive the Palmer House Hotel as wedding present from her husband, the business magnate Potter Palmer. She was quite the hostess and art collector and she decked the hotel out with art from her travels in Europe. She hired French muralist Louis Pierre Rigal to design the fantastic fresco on the ceiling of the lobby. And you can see by the way it’s mentioned in the book the Palmer House represented everything grand and stylish in Chicago for that time and was no doubt THE place to stay. When I got there the first time I found it still pretty grand and stylish. The lobby is beautiful – and in a smart move – the hotel has a bar right there in the center of it all so you can look up at the fresco on the ceiling while you enjoy cocktails. I’ve been there a few times, had dinner at Lockwood, but the last time I went I really got it right – I ordered a burger – right there – in the lobby bar. It was a good burger but it was even better because I enjoyed it in such a great spot – surrounded by all the beauty Bertha Palmer ordered up for her guests over a hundred years ago.
While you’re there you might want to take a tour of the hotel. The History is Hot tour seems to happen daily. You can also stop in to see the museum on the second floor.