Chicago Staycation at Historic Millennium Knickerbocker

I get it – I love to get away. But sometimes getting away is a martini, a nice bubble bath and a new comfy bed for the night. Staycations have become more popular over the years and I can see why – yes, its fun to explore a new city, but sometimes a nice night in at a nice hotel is the self-care and break girl bosses need. I recently had a nice Chicago staycation at the historic 1927 Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago.

And if a staycation at this historic hotel isn’t enough, it’s right by Michigan Avenue, 360 Chicago Observation Deck at John Hancock and the Museum of Contemporary Art for you to explore some of Chicago’s most iconic – and if you’re a native – overlooked spots.

The Knickerbocker History: Speakeasy and Playboy:

I think one of the coolest aspects of the hotel is its history. Anyone can build a new hotel, but you can’t make up this hotel’s sinister past. I had to see for myself the Penthouse floor where Al Capone’s brother once ran a casino and speakeasy. Today it’s used for conferences or events but you can still see the cutout to a secret stairway that guests used when the cops came. Al Capone’s brother was never caught because everyone would use that stairway to go down a few flights of stairs.

The Knickerbocker also had a few ownership changes throughout its nearly 90-year history. In the ’70s, the property had a stint as the Playboy Towers. The hotel has housed such luminaries as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and the Rolling Stones.

The Rooms:

The hotel still has a historic feel. The over the top chandeliers are all noticeable about this four star hotel.

There’s definitely an older feel, but the rooms have been updated and transformed into spacious one bedroom suites with a mini bar, a whimsical bed, 40″ flat screen TVs, and yes a bathrobe and yes – a whirlpool tub (make sure you get the room with a whirlpool tub, you’ll thank me later).

I took a quick 5-minute walk to Water Tower Place on Michigan Ave to go to the new Millennial makeup store, Riley Rose. Since Lush is no longer at Macy’s, Riley Rose was perfect for picking up a bath bomb.

bathroom

I loved the hotel room which had its own living room and a private bedroom and expansive bathroom.

One of my favorite parts of a staycation is getting ready, and I appreciated the lighting and added mirrors. My friend met me for dinner so we got all dressed up to have martinis – something that we should do more often.

The Martini Bar:

One luxury of a Chicago Staycation is that you get to enjoy fine dining and drinks. One of the nice things about the Knickerbocker is that right in the lobby is the Martini Bar open till 10 pm for dinner and 12 am for drinks.

Its extensive martini list is to be explored and enjoyed, and despite being served at the bar, it’s fine dining cuisine is exceptional. Plus, they have a piano and some live entertainment on certain nights.

martini bar

I’ll start with the food. If there is one thing you should order, it’s the steak and arugula salad. Honesty, it’s the best salad I’ve ever tasted. The dressing was light, the steak was savory and the arugula was fresh and had some added toppings for a slight crunch.

And since we had a late night meal, my friend and I also tried some of the martinis. Hands down, the chocolate martini was my favorite. I usually love a dirty martini or a Cosmo. Those were strong and really great but there was something about the chocolate martini.

Sweet Dreams and Healthy Breakfast:

I took my martini up to my room and drew myself the most amazing bath. The bathroom at The Knickerbocker is over the top. They have a shower area and a separate bathtub in the room. I added the jets to the bath and it was better than a jacuzzi at most hotels.

In the morning, I woke up in my robe and comfortable king-sized bed. I connected my phone to the TV to get ready to my favorite music and then rushed downstairs for some much-needed coffee and a delicious omelet at Nix, the other restaurant in the Knickerbocker. The service was great and the omelet was actually delicious, especially the side of bread and jam.

Overall:

There are so many hotels in Chicago because it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. Honesty, I’ve been to quite a few hotels – The Trump Tower smells like vanilla because of the candles. Cambria in the loop is great for a Theatre District Hotel with the exquisite Italian restaurant, Petterino’s next door, The Palmer House has a beautiful and extensive lobby and a spa but the rooms are a bit stuffy.

But the Knickerbocker, this hotel has history and merit and I was surprised by the quality of the food, the rooms, and the location. The hotel rooms itself were some of the nicest I’ve been in. I would say one issue was that the WiFi went in and out sometimes, but other than that, my stay was perfect and memorable. It’s a good location, a good price and it’s a historic spot you should add to your Chicago Bucketlist.

This article is a sponsored post.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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I Planned A Drake Themed Galentine’s Dinner Party In 5 Days And It Was Everything

Having dinner with girlfriends is the best. But add cake and Drake songs – it’s simply the perfect theme I could think of for hosting my first Galentine’s Day dinner in Chicago.

I love a good party (see here, here, and basically all of my Instagram stories). And the reasons why I love them is because they help you bond with people. This Galentine’s Day dinner party was no exception.

First, I’m going to walk you through how I planned the Drake Themed party in five days- from the Drake on a Cake to the location.

Then, I’ll share with you what we did at the party.

How We Got to Drake on a Cake Galentine’s Theme:

The theme was Drake on a Cake. How did we get here? It all started with Chicago Restaurant Week and God’s Plan.

I was having a late lunch, which turned into early cocktails with a few fab Chicago lifestyle and food bloggers.  Drake had just released the song, God’s Plan, and we started talking about the lyrics which led our Instagram-obsessed selves to Drake on the Cake Instagram account.

 

Nicole Triebe from Windy City Dinner Fairy at Restaurant Week. Photo by: The Brazen Gourmand

 

During the lunch, I met the infamous Nicole Triebe, Founder of  Windy City Dinner Fairy, who I had followed on Instagram, but we’d never met in person. And, I’m going to tell you, meeting in person is so important. 

The day we met for Chicago Restaurant Week was also the day I started to promote my new relationship podcast, Ok Cool. We started talking about dating stories in Chicago and we were swapping our worst date stories.

Drake + Good Lobster Rolls + Bad Dates = BFFS

 

After a few laughs, some mussels, and some good cider, I had to interview Nicole about Windy City Dinner Fairy for my blog. So, we set up a date to make a Drake on a Cake and learn more about how she started baking and cooking.

The Drake on a Cake: Making the Cake:

About a week later, what was just girl talk, turned into baking the Drake on a Cake. I started my afternoon with Nicole from Windy City Dinner Fairy with a bottle of champagne. She already had the eggs and some ingredients on the table. Without a recipe, she swirled the batter and tossed in the ingredients to make a double chocolate Drake on a Cake.

 

Baking a Cake with Windy City Dinner Fairy.

 

Meet The Girlboss Behind Windy City Dinner Fairy:

While her cake smelled sweet, her story of becoming a girl boss was about a 15-year long road. See, Nicole always knew what she was good at, but it took time to develop her skills and her clientele. She was working a full-time job as a Paralegal when she started her creative, custom dessert catering company, Windy City Dinner Fairy. She was catering with a friend and made pastries for a coffee shop. And then on her own, Nicole was hired as a personal chef for three CrossFitters. It was when she made cupcakes for a wedding that she realized that this was what she wanted to do. She switched jobs to be an Assistant Underwriter at an insurance company and still kept making cakes and food on the side. Her business had expanded throughout the Chicagoland area. After working two jobs, which she didn’t like very much, she was ready to incorporate her side hustle on her 35th birthday – December 1, 2017.

 

The cakes were cooling, and it was time to pop the champagne. After hearing her story, we brainstormed the best Drake lyrics. Ultimately, we went with “You The F*ckin Best.” Windy City Dinner Fairy then made then made a “You The F*ckin Best”  playlist as she finished icing the cake, and I finished the champagne. I knew that those weren’t just empty words on a cake – she really is the f*ckin best for quitting her job and making her side hustle her business.

 

We Chose the Drake lyrics “You The F*ckin Best” for The Galentine’s Day Cake. 

 

P.S. if you need a visual of what it was like to bake with Nicole, you can watch her in action with Glossed and Found, an online video magazine making a hydrangea cupcake bouquet for Valentine’s Day.

The Galentine’s Day Invites:

One Party Can Lead To Another if you just believe. Chicago influencers from Chicagogrammers came to the Drake on a Cake Galentine’s Day Party. 

I think the only thing to do with a cake is to have a party. So, I went to the monthly Chicagogrammer’s happy hour with 30 other Instagrammers on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.

Some of them had seen my Instagram stories and asked me what Drake on a Cake was.  After Chicago bloggers and influencers Alyssa Erickson from Doughscuit, Allie Barke from Alliesfashionalley, and Katie Cahnmann from Appetite_4_Adventure were interested – I decided it was for a party.

A handful of people were going to the Chicago Pizza Party like Allie Bahcall from Bahcallmemaybe, who works for Yelp and the other half had no plans –  so we choose Saturday night.

I literally met new people that night like Ratanya Bowens and said, “Hi, I’m Amanda, what are you doing Saturday night?” With the blizzard coming on Friday, I knew the more invites the merrier.

So, I had a cake. I had people. Now, I just needed a time and a place. Three days till the party.

The Place to Host a Dinner Party:

Dinner parties are my favorite thing. I realized that I’m still an aspiring cook and so I appreciate the many wonderful chefs in Chicago who introduce me to new foods and flavors.

 

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We had the Galentine’s Party at Urbanbelly in Wicker Park. We had a big table to the side with a green wall in the backdrop for the semi-private dinner party.

 

I went out the next day to a handful of restaurants in Wicker Park and talked to the managers about hosting the dinner party. All three of them were great spots – Bru Chicago, Piece Brewery and Pizza, and Urbanbelly. 

 

I knew I wanted a semi-private event space where I could set up some type of decor. I ultimately chose Urbanbelly because they had this beautiful green backdrop and a nice table space with a corner area for us to drop our coats and purses and do what girls do best – relax and talk. Plus, the manager, Elizabeth was so nice.

The Decor:

If ever there was a time for a Target Run – it’s for a party. Target has really cute decor for $1 or $3. I picked up some cards, balloons, some pens and stickers, and a few photobooth props.

 

Appetite 4 Adventure and AlliesFashionAlley were some of the Chicago bloggers at the Drake dinner party. 

 

Plus I got some champagne gum as a palate gum. It made a great conversation piece.

The Night of The Drake on a Cake Dinner Party:

Let me just say, I loved everything about this party. Urbanbelly in Wicker Park had the table reserved for us with water and chopsticks already on the table.

We all decided on which Ramen and dumplings to order – don’t forget the dumplings. They are small, but flavorful. I got the beef and cheddar and the chicken curry. They were so good! And then I ordered togarashi fries for the table. Which were perfect in between good, spicy bites of my chicken ramen.

Last night was messy, funny, and as real as a Drake song makes me feel. My dreams came true – I threw a Drake themed dinner party for Galentines Day. We made Valentine’s Day cards from Drake lyrics and had a Drake on a Cake. I went to a few restaurants to host the party and @urbanbellychicago was wonderful and made us feel special. After ramen, some dumplings and piña coladas, the manager brought us amazing ice cream shots and pb&j ice cream – soft serve with crunchy peanut butter and huckleberry jelly that even @seriouseats recognized as some of the best ice cream in Chicago. The food was amazing! And I had never been there before. Getting a card written from Drake lyrics made us all laugh and most of all I had amazing company. Cheers to week of love and laughter 🥂

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I had never been to Urbanbelly before – but everything was good and everyone loved it. I learned that the master chef is renowned Chicago chef, Bill Kim, who has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and the StarChefs Rising Stars Award.

One of the best parts of Urbanbelly is their cocktails and desserts. Seriously these can be extras and often overlooked when having a big bowl of ramen. But, we had to try. They have house-made signature cocktails including a new pina colada inspired cocktail. I went for the cider.

Making Valentine’s Day Cards From Drake Lyrics:

After we shared dating stories and caught up on life. I had everyone put their name in Valentine’s Day bag. We all wrote out Valentine’s Day cards to each other using Drake lyrics. I think this was one of my favorite parts of the night!

 

We pulled names from the Valentine’s Day bag to write personalized notes using Drake lyrics. 

 

The best Valentine’s Day card made via Drake Lyrics was:

Katie,

Tonight was your night. Go get you some lobsters and shrimp.

You smart and you know it. I get it. I get it. You outdo those pimps.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love,

Sam

I mean Drake lyrics written as a card had us all laughing.

The next part was dessert. The manager surprised us and brought us some of Urbanbelly’s dessert to try and it was seriously amazing. If you only have room for one dessert – order the shake shot. I was confused when they put a mason jar filled with soft serve and shot glasses on the table – but taking a shot of ice cream is now one of my favorite shots. UrbanBelly’s shake shot has vanilla soft serve, Vietnamese iced coffee & chocolate crisp on top.

 

After Ramen, we took cake shots – which are just as amazing as they sound. 

 

I’ve never tasted peanut butter and jelly in ice cream form – but it was better than the sandwich. They take crunchy peanut butter and mix it with berry compote into the vanilla soft serve. Then, we also sampled the soy caramel soft serve.

Finally, it was time for the cake behind the party – Drake on a Cake. Urbanbelly cut the double chocolate cake and served us. The homemade frosting was so good!

Happy Galentine’s Day:

Our bellies were full and my heart was filled with joy. I’ve always wanted to throw something ridiculous like a Different rake on a Cake party. Celebrities have been my muse for several parties. For my 25th birthday, I threw a 1989 Taylor Swift party and we shut down the bar to make a music video to Shake it Off.

 

We finally got to eat the Drake on a Cake. 

 

So, that’s how you throw a party in five days. Hope you have a great Galentine’s Day and thank you for reading Windy City Cosmo! Remember, you’re the f*ckin best.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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How We Wish Men Answered Our Bumble Messages

Saying “Hi” and “Hey” on Bumble (Tinder, OkCupid, Match, eHarmony, Hinge, etc.) is one of the worst ways to start a conversation. Just kidding we all do it. I mean sometimes swiping is like liking photos on Instagram – it could be more muscle memory than interest. Sorry, not sorry. And that shirtless, distant photo of you with the empty profile to match isn’t really telling us if you’re a bot or a boy.

Do You Want to Hook-Up?

But some of us girls have taken a different approach – a no B.S. approach if you will. Basically, we need to know if you are you a f*ck boy or if you’re looking for something more serious. I mean we all want a cuddle buddy and a dinner date every now and again but let me put it this way – is what you’re offering the $3 wine at Trader Joes or an aged Merlot from the wine shop?

We ask the questions. I know, men have said it sounds like an interrogation. But, it’s really just because you didn’t fill out your profile and I need to see more than a shirtless pic to go out with you.

So, what is it that us girls really want to hear when we message Mr. Hedge Fund on Bumble?

Everything a Girl Wants to Hear on Bumble:

What are you looking for?

A relationship (Marriage/commitment/don’t like other girl’s Instagram pics).

 

(Ok this is tricky. There’s a guy on Reddit who says he uses the line “meeting new people and seeing what happens,” but he always gets unmatched. Most guys answer the question a few different ways. I get that we both don’t know each other. So, honestly, we might just be friends or hookup or have a relationship. When I say I’m looking for a relationship – it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be with you – that’s just my intention.).

Do you Netflix and Chill?

I don’t know what Netflix is.

How tall are you?

6 ft something. (Other versions i.e. tall enough to lift you off your feet really just tells us you’re hiding something).

When was your last relationship?

2 years ago. (Anything along the lines of just got out of a relationship = rebound).

Do you think this will go anywhere?

It could if you join me for dinner at 8 on Friday night.

Conclusion:

Ever since recording my relationship podcast, Ok Cool, I’ve become obsessed with a few dating coaches/relationship experts. My absolute favorite dating coach is Matthew Hussey – let’s just say he has a monthly column in Cosmopolitan magazine and wrote the New York Times Bestseller “Get The Guy.”  He has a few tips on how to respond to men on dating apps/texting and how to get a relationship. P.S. He just got into a relationship a few days before Valentine’s Day. So, good things come to those who wait. Idk. Happy swiping.

 

 

 

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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I Don’t Know What to Call This Relationship But He Feels Like My Husband

I don’t know what to call this relationships, but he feels like my husband. I feel like we’re married. We’re not even in a relationship. We’re just friends who call each other almost every day – sometimes once a week. He knows what I’m making for dinner. I tell him I’m throwing a Ramen dinner party and he tells me, “That has a lot of carbs.” He knows how I feel about my ex. How many guys have tried to hook up with me. He sends me book recommendations. He sends me presents – that the mail person never delivers.

We talk about our dreams and our fears. He FaceTimes me, and I say “hello” to his father.

This has been going on for awhile.

And, it feels like he’s my husband – or what I imagine my husband to be like. Well, I hope my husband is in the same room as me – but he never is. Other than that, there’s a raw honesty in our conversations.

We’ve met and hung out, but it isn’t the same as our phone conversations, which usually happen at off hours after a run or a date.

We’ve had breaks. I’ve traveled and he’s traveled. We stopped talking for months – but when we start talking together – I don’t know how to describe it.

I feel like this is all I’m going to get in life – a virtual connection. No one to hug and kiss me after a long day. No one to make dinner with or travel with. And I can’t write that this is settling. We don’t even think of each other romantically – and have never slept together. But we both love each other and want the best for each other.

Seriously – what is this? I can’t say that we’re just friends. Because he’s so much more than a friend to me.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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A New England Taste for Chicago Restaurant Week at Oyster Bah

For this Chicago Restaurant Week – we took a trip – with our forks – to New England for some fresh seafood and nautical ambiance.

This week is what some people call “better than Christmas.” It’s Chicago Restaurant Week from January 26 – February 8, 2018. Chicago Restaurant Week is a dream for Chicago foodies because you get to eat a fixed price menu at some of the hottest and finest Chicago restaurants.

A few bloggers and I got together for a tasting at Oyster Bah (1962 N. Halsted) in Lincoln Park to catch up and eat some fresh seafood.

The food was good. The ambience was perfect. And the company made the experience.

Dig in at Oyster Bah:

Since I know you want to – let’s just dig in. I do really think that you bond over meals. While I love good sauces, fresh seafood, and a savory meal – time flew because of the conversations.

We did Oyster shots together and split a lobster roll. I loved how zesty and fresh everything was! Seriously, get the lobster roll and save room for the mussels!

Restaurant Week is a Great Way to Meetup with Friends and Talk About Your Projects:

Best of all, because we met up during the launch of my relationship podcast, Ok Cool, we started talking about our dating lives. Some of the Chicago bloggers shared our worst dating stories from Match and other places. P.S. I don’t really like Match – it took three months, and I only met up with one person.

My favorite story was about how a guy went to the bathroom during the dinner date and didn’t come back! My friend was left with the bill and oddly, his coat which he left behind. At the end of the night, she gave his coat to a homeless guy and had a few drinks with the bartender, who saw what happened.

Restaurant week is the best way to try favorite dishes from Oyster Bah for a set price. The lunch special is $22 and dinner is $33. Reservations can be made by here.

Battle of the 90s at Split-Rail:

Next on my restaurant week list is Split-Rail because – guys – they have a battle of the 90’s – Friends vs. Seinfeld.

https://instagram.com/p/BequJGulEN1/

All photos were shot by: The Brazen Gourmand

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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