Rest and Relaxation at the Palmer House

My friend is a workaholic so she decided to book a room at the Palmer House and bring me along for a girl’s weekend.

We spent Sunday night for Memorial Day weekend in a queen sized room.

There was no view. We had a full load’s worth of towels from one night. And for once, we drank more water than alcohol.

This is my second staycation of my life. It’s a recent trend that I haven’t really explored because I love traveling.

But, there are so many parts of Chicago to explore that staying in a different part of town can seriously feel like you are in a different part of the world.

Transit to the Palmer House: Taxis v. Uber

My friend and I both live in the northside of Chicago. We could easily take the CTA redline downtown, but she said we should take an Uber. Uber’s were surge pricing, so we grabbed a taxi—big mistake.

This taxi driver was nice at first. He called us models and played Beyonce. But, then my friend got on the phone and the taxi driver asked me to take off my sunglasses so that he could see my eyes. I looked down and started playing Views. 

Shortly after his wife called and he put their conversation (in another language) on Bluetooth.

We finally got to the Palmer House, and I jumped out of the taxi. And taxi drivers wonder why we take Uber’s.

Which way to the Steam Room?

The Palmer House is gorgeous. It’s located right off State Street on Monroe.  It’s ornate and has so many passageways, stairways and oddly enough, not enough elevators. We check-in and immediately wanted to do what we came here to do – get a steam and go for a swim.

They have an entire spa on the fifth floor, but we opted for a steam and a few minutes in the Jacuzzi.

I recently joined LA Fitness and have become obsessed with their sauna, but it was nice to be in an actual steam room. It helps you calm down and breathe and not become overwhelmed by your environment.

Becuase the steam room literally makes you feels like you are suffocating.  I had to leave the room twice – but once I started focusing and breathing, I calmed down. If you are feeling stressed – go to the steam room.

It’s Just You and Me (and the rest of the world):

After the dew collected on our skin, it was time for the Jacuzzi.

We realized everyone and all of their children were in the pool. I literally felt like I was at a daycare. So we climbed up the stairs to the more secluded Jacuzzi.

We got in and started chatting. My friend showed me that a Jacuzzi is supposed to be a massage.

We sat back and let the bubbles massage us. I’ve seriously been Jacuzing wrong my whole life.

Steamimg_6319, Jacuzzi, Beautify:

After a little pampering, we decided to grab our third towel of the day and go back upstairs for some Kesha.

The best past of a girl’s weekend is getting ready. My friend loves hair and makeup, so she helped me contour my face. We used Fiona Stiles powder and purple mascara, and then a travel kit from Ulta with eyeshadow and blush.  And yes, it does take 45 minutes to get all dressed up.

 Nando’s Chicken:

My friend grew up in the UK so I surprised her and took her to Nando’s Chicken. Yes, it’s got a casual vibe, but the chicken is so good.

We ate chicken and talked about our work life. As two single girls, it was nice that girl’s weekend didn’t turn into a diatribe about men but more about talking about our goals and dreams and our next career steps – you know, productive things.





Dancing on Hubbard Street:

The best part of staying downtown is walking across the bridge and seeing the Chicago River and all of the beautiful buildings surrounding it at night. It’s sights like this where I am still amazed that I live in such a beautiful city.

We went to Hubbard Street – a spot in Chicago known for its night life. We started the night at Rockit Bar, where I met a girl who is 6’2″ sans heels. We had to take a picture.

We got back to the dance floor and security came beside us.

“What’s he doing?” I asked my friend.

“He’s escorting us.”

After the bar got too techno, we went to Mercer. Mercer always has good music – but not a lot of people. We formed a girl group and started getting low to Jay-Z with more UK girls.

We were going to meet up with a guy, and ended up at the Bottled Blonde, which is on Wells and Illinois. I’ve never been there, but it is pretty amazing.

The drinks are good, the music is on point, and there are people – lots and lots of people. We danced with an Indian visiting from Atlanta.

A guy came up to our table and complimented us for being the most diverse group in the club.

After a few throwbacks (hey, R. Kelly), we walked the mile back to our hotel and like a true girl, spent the rest of the night trying to get feeling back in my toes after five hours in four-inch heels.

Hollywood Theme:

The Palmer Hotel is Hollywood themed. It has pictures of movie star classics on the wall, and yes, you do feel like a movie star just walking into their lobby.

My friend saw a picture on the wall and she was intrigued. She went online immediately and looked up her name from the picture. It was Dorothy Dandridge.

Dorothy Dandridge is like Kerry Washington. She is stunning.

Dorothy Dandridge was part of the Dandridge sisters, but like Beyonce, she went solo and then was cast in a movie that made her a sensation. She was the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Carmen Jones (an adaption of the opera, Carmen). Gace Kelly won the award, but she was still an overnight sensation.

She became over $100,000 in debt from bad management (p.s. never date your manager). She was going to make a club appearance when they found her dead at 42 in September 1965. It was reported that she didn’t even have $2 in her bank account.  A tragic life; a Hollywood life.

You can read more about her life here.

Amenities of Life:

We woke up the next morning and jumped on the bed. Yes, that’s what you should do. It makes you feel like a rockstar. My friend did a four-mile run and then we did a repeat of last nightimg_6383 – steam, Jacuzzi, beautify. We met a .mother and daughter from Minneapolis. Pro tip – Minneapolis is one of the most healthiest cities in America. I asked her how that is. She said it’s because all of the lakes are free and open to the public.

“And what do you do during winter?” I asked.

“Oh, I go to the gym,” she laughed

All a girl needs is a good steam, some Jacuzzi time, music and makeup, a dance floor, and some Burberry Touch mixed with Victoria Secret’s Heavenly, and some next door chicken from Nando’s, and some Matcha GreenTea Lemonade from Goddess and the Baker. Those are the true amenities of life.

We grabbed breakfast at Goddess and the Baker along with the rest of Chicago  – biscotti and hot chocolate ,please.

I came into this weekend feeling overwhelmed, and now I feel confident and refreshed and most importantly, relaxed.

It’s so nice to meet all of the beautiful and spirited people who live in Chicago and who visit. But, it’s also nice when you get the steam room to yourself and can walk home from the club.

Cheers to girl’s weekends.

For more ideas for girl’s weekends or just a weekend travel, subscribe to Windy City Cosmo here.






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.


Queen B Brings Her Own Swimming Pool to Chicago

Okay, ladies.

Beyonce kicked off her Formation World Tour in Chicago on the second night starting with “Formation” on Saturday, May 28, 2016, at Soldier Field.

And we were ready to get in formation.

Everyone was slaying, especially the queen herself.

There were tears. There was laughter. There was a pool. There was confetti. There was latex. And that was just from Beyonce.

The Formation World Tour was a surprise to everyone when Beyonce dropped the announcement casually into the Super Bowl. She didn’t even have an album, just a song—a controversial song.

But Beyonce delivers with or without a dropped album.

Weeks before we had all sipped Beyonce’s bittersweet lemonade and now we were  ready for the concert.

Beyonce pulled from a variety of albums. She brought us back to “Survivor” and “Love on Top” and she even dropped to her knees to sing her favorite song to perform. I would have never guessed that that was Beyonce’s favorite song to sing. She earlier revealed that “All Night” was her favorite song on her album, Lemonade.

When Beyonce smiled the world smiled. You could tell how excited she was to perform. And when she cried, the group of women behind me said “Don’t cry, B! We love you!”

You could feel the connection that fans had with Beyonce as if she was there best friend.

As this was my first concert witnessing a superstar. I wanted to take you through my night.

First things first. Security was amazing and everyone was excited. My friend and I tried to find Beyonce shirts at Target, H&M, Old Navy, and Forever 21, but no one sold “Okay, ladies now let’s get in formation” or “I slay” shirts.

So, we approached the concert hopeful for a Beyonce shirt, but at $40 and more, we stayed in our casual sundress and tank top.

What do people wear to concerts?

The answer is simple. They wear whatever they wore that day or something for after the concert.



Two divas at the Beyonce Formation World Tour in Chicago at Soldier Field. Photo: Amanda Elliott


Or if you are fans, you and your girls dress up as lemons.



Fans dressed up as lemons for Beyonce’s Lemonade album. Photo: Amanda Elliott


The concert started at 7:30 pm with some of the best pump-up jams from a DJ. At this point, I had climbed all of the stairs to get the very last one up against the wall. I sat for a few seconds and it felt like I was on a roller coaster. Having a minor panic attack, I crawled to the side. The man beside me got up after twenty minutes, running down the stairs saying he was too close to airplanes up here. Yes, we were in that section.

So, after capturing the crowd saying, “I’ve got hot sauce in my bag,” I crawled down 60 flights of stairs and found the ledge where I stayed for the rest of the night. You know, away from the airplanes.

Waiting for Beyonce:

It was about 8:00 pm now and we waited and waited and waited till about 9:00 pm when the stage changed and Beyonce appeared.

She used a huge rectangle screen to make it a 3D experience. Beyonce performed most of her concert, but she also used imagery and presented videos from her life and from the Lemonade visual album.

Beyonce used a huge rectangle screen to present videos during her Formation World Tour. Photo: Amanda Elliott



Beyonce sang “Bootylicious” in a red latex suit with her backup dancers. Photo: Amanda Elliott


Beyonce Brought Her Own Swimming Pool:

The most surprising part of the night was when Beyonce’s backup dancers showed up on stage with knee pads and then danced in Beyonce’s swimming pool.

I thought it was so cool and so supernatural, that she brought her own swimming pool. During the Formation World Tour, she spotlighted the musicians such as the drummer and guitarist (for quite a while), giving tribute to musicians. But, she added the theatrics and the element of surprise with that swimming pool.


Beyonce brings her own swimming pool to Chicago for the Formation World Tour. Photo: Amanda Elliott

By the end of the night, as we lined up near the squad of girls dressed as lemons, I truly felt like Beyonce was speaking to me. She is as much as a diva as a motivational speaker, as a role model.


She ended the night with her song “Halo” and of course a firework display, and as Beyonce stood in her pool, she said if she could do this, then we could.



Beyonce sings “Halo” during her Formation World Tour in Chicago at Soldier Field. Photo: Amanda Elliott


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.


How a City Girl Planned a Camping Trip: Van Buren State Park

I sat down – looking around as I dug into my freshly cut, garlic salted avocado.

“More coffee?” my friend asked.

He handed his girlfriend a Starbucks mug full of French pressed Lavazza (it’s the best coffee and you can order it here) coffee.

glamping_french press

I’m part of a book club (follow me on Goodreads here). We meet monthly in various neighborhoods in Chicago and for two book club’s we decide to do destination trips to the great outdoors of Wisconsin or Michigan.

For our spring camping trip, I was in charge of organizing it in South Haven, Michigan at Van Buren State Park. It’s about 100 miles or 2.5 hours from Chicago.

When my other friend pulled out his whisk to make scrambled eggs, he said we were glamping.

Glamping is one of the newest camping trends. In it’s simplest definition, glamping is elevated camping and is more associated with a resort than  actual camping.

At Van Buren State Park, our lot of land was equivalent to a backyard in American suburbia. It had an electrical outlet, a picnic table, a firepit, and of course was big enough  to park the ultimate sign of glamping—an RV.

Van Buren State Park is the perfect place for glamping. It doesn’t have an outhouse like the last campsite we went to. We actually had a bathroom facility and about four showers with hot water (though not the greatest water pressure).

It’s about a 10-minute walk to Lake Michigan. And for a quick adventure, there’s a volleyball net at a nearby park or a sand dune to the right of the main beach entrance.

glamping_sand dune

After months of planning this trip for 12, I looked at the picnic bench and the five accompanying coolers, and wanted to reflect on the things I learned about camping from this experience.

Things I learned from planning a camping trip:

Starting a fire is difficult. We cheated with fireplace starter.

When you tell everyone to bring snacks, they are going to bring Veggie Frys, Doritos, and bananas (lots of bananas).

You can survive off of hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled cheese.

Half an avocado with garlic salt and a spoon is the best bachelor’s breakfast. EVER.


Bring Febreeze, allergy meds, a wool blanket and Excedrin in your emergency kit.

Rocks that you collect from the beach will explode if you put them in the fire.

Pro tip: buy a cot – the ground is hard. P.S. If you sleep in the cot, you might end up sleeping in the car because the sun is blinding and there are no blinds in the wilderness.

Climbing a sand dune is like climbing a mountain or in city terms, it’s like level 15 of the Stair Master.

Watching the sunset with friends is worth it. Bring vodka lemonades because you will show up an hour earlier than you need to (thanks time change).

glamping_friends sunset

Bring a cap and sunglasses.

Pack an extra blanket. It gets really cold at night. I think we saw frost.

Sherades and Cards Against Humanity are the best games to play in the woods.

Ice will keep for two days – you just have to move the coolers into the shade. Pro tip: the sun changes direction throughout the day so you will have to move the coolers accordingly.

You can open your Blue Moon with a knife.

Check astonomy happenings. When we went camping on May 21, 2016, there was a Blue Moon, which means that is the second full moon in a calendar month. P.S. Blue Moons are not blue.

When a campsite says it provides electrical, it’s not just for RVs. You can  charge your phone, plug in a blender or even a toaster – again, this feels more like glamping.

As a former Girl Scout camping with an Eagle Scout, we want to remind you to leave the campsite cleaner than when you found it.

You know you are glamping when you don’t need to bring your own toilet paper.

Bring water – to do dishes, to drink, etc.

Discuss music choices with the person you are carpooling with before committing to 4 hours in a car with them.

Bugs, snails, racoons, etc. exist and aren’t afraid of you. Take necessary precaution.

Whole Foods Market makes really good Blu-cheese seasoned chicken.

A little bit goes a long way – salt, pepper, garlic salt, and Goya are seasoing essentials.




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.


How to be the Perfect Host “Kocktails With Khloè” Style

I’m going to talk about it because nobody else is. And that’s probably why it was cancelled after one season.

Do you need a drink?

Is your dress see-through?

Then, you are the perfect guest for Khloè’s spin on talk shows, Kocktails with Khloè.

The show taught me many things, but the main thing was that drink and game nights are the only real way to get to know someone.

After watching several episodes of Kocktails with Khloè, I have learned How to Host a Dinner Party:

Talk Up Your Party:

I think Khloè did an awesome job of promoting her show. She wore the perfect outfits. She had the sympathy card with her estranged husband’s health, so her talking about that and her book and her housewarming show really gave it the personal touch.

Having several things going on that people can ask you surface level questions about it is a perfect recipe for a cocktail party.

Wear Something  That People Will Talk About:

My favorite part of the show was Khloè Kardashian’s outfits. She really puts on the cocktail dress with the low v-neck.  I think this show did wonders for her style and for expressing her individuality.

Plus people like to get dressed up. When you dress the part, it makes your event more important.

Hire a Hot Bartender to Help Co-Host:

While every Kardashian wants attention, it’s important to add a dynamic and some eye candy.

Like every good host, Khloè has a hot bartender who makes the specialty cocktails of the night. Her guests are kind enough to bring homemade food or whatever brand of alcohol the rapper is promoting.

Know When to Leave:

You don’t need the hint or someone to call you an Uber home. Just know when to shut a party down and when to leave.

The show tried too hard at times, with appearances from family guests and friends, but I think it really was a great concept.

If anything,  Kocktails with Khloè made me want to get a big house to host Cocktails with Windy City Cosmo.

And like every good cocktail party, Khloè got people together to have a few drinks, talk about ridiculous things and most importantly give them fodder for their Instagram feeds.

Cheers, Khloè. Thanks for the Kocktails.