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Waheeda Harris

Contributing writer

Waheeda Harris is a freelance journalist who writes about travel, design, culture, cuisine, style and the people who are passionate about what they create.

The culturally diverse neighborhood of Hyde Park is a memorable place to start exploring Chicago, boasting attractions such as the Museum of Science and Industry, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and the future Barack Obama Presidential Center.

Now this historic district welcomes the artsy Sophy Hyde Park, a 98-room hotel whose name is derived from the ancient Greek word for wisdom. Design lovers will appreciate the building’s contemporary details created by Chicago-based GREC architects, as well as interior décor by Stonehill Taylor, whose previous hotel design work includes the Ace Hotel, The St. Regis and The Bryant in New York City and Portland’s Press Hotel.

Co-developer Smart Hotels LLC, who specialize in eco-friendly and sustainable hotels, worked with the real estate/hospitality developer Olympia Companies on this hotel project, constructing Hyde Park’s first LEED silver certified hotel, appealing to vacationers and business types who want to embrace the green way of traveling.

Photo courtesy of Sophy Hyde Park

The neutral-toned guests rooms get a blast of color, courtesy of original works by Chicago abstract expressionist artist Joey Kordom, who was commissioned to create vivid eight-foot pieces for each of the spaces. The local vibe continues with a selection of books and a turntable with vinyl selections featuring Chicago musicians. Standard room décor includes a king or queen bed, hardwood flooring, a Bluetooth alarm clock, geometric-patterned rug, custom lighting, wardrobe and a marble-tiled bathroom. The love seat and ottoman are handy for reading or listening to records when you’ve got time to chill.

Photo courtesy of Sophy Hyde Park

Visitors arriving at the Sophy Hyde Park, a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection, can’t fail but notice the sleek, double-sided fireplace in the lobby. It’s a showstopper and handy for chasing a chill come wintertime. Guests will also have 24-hour access to the fitness center and an outdoor lounge to use at their leisure. They may also notice a theme that ties together the public spaces. They’ve all been inspired by literature and science, from light fixtures to blown-up covers of great science-themed novels that adorn the walls—a nod perhaps to The University of Chicago nearby.

When hunger hits, head to the hotel’s modern and spacious Mesler Kitchen, Bar & Lounge, which is styled as a library and showcases original art created by local high school students from Hyde Park Academy on its walls. Need a place for a high-powered meeting or an intimate dinner for family or friends? Book Mesler’s private dining room with seating for up to 14 guests, complete with outdoor patio and a fire pit.

Helmed by executive chef Bradford Shovlin, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mesler dishes up contemporary American cuisine for a slightly different dining program. Daily brunch is offered instead of breakfast and lunch, so go ahead and sleep in as long as you desire.

Opening rates for the Sophy Hyde Park start at US$289 per night single occupancy.

(Photo courtesy of Sophy Hyde Park)

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