Our national carrier launches a new non stop service between AUCKLAND and CHICAGO (O’Hare Intl Airport) from 30 November 2018, with three direct services a week…yes!!  Air New Zealand will operate their new configuration Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and expect to COMFORTABLY BINGE WATCH with a flight time of approximately 15 hours.

Often described as America’s ‘THIRD COAST’, Chicago’s creative and tech industries are a notable force, showing no signs of abating.  The city has a thriving music scene, producing diverse artists from the great Sam Cooke and Muddy Waters, to rapper Kanye West to alternative rock bands, The Smashing Pumpkins and OK go.

Of course, backed up with a vibrant food and entertainment scene, diverse architecture, must-see sporting events, and excellent shopping, it’s no wonder a bunch of trendy new neighbourhoods have emerged, from the Kinzie Corridor (west of Fulton Market) to Wicker Park and the West Loop, complimented with a number of HOT HOTELS.

Here’s our tips on where to head in the Windy City!


Thompson Chicago

If like me, you’re a fan of British interior designer Tara Bernerd then you’ll love this luxury boutique hotel, with urban industrial bones, accented with MID-CENTURY LINES and edgy art. Conveniently located in the city’s hipster Gold Coast neighbourhood, close to The Magnificent Mile and Michigan Ave and easy walk to Lake Michigan. This is a firm fav!

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

As the name suggests, this 1893 icon with Venetian Gothic exterior was once a PRIVATE GENTLEMEN’S SPORTING CLUB, now a boutique hipster hotel, successfully blending old-school elegance with a dose of cool – expect to rub shoulders with upbeat millennials here.  The location on Michigan Ave, across from Millennium Park is second to none.  Admire the view at Cindy’s Rooftop bar while you’re here!

Ace Chicago

Housed within a former cheese factory, and across the road from Google’s Midwest HQ in the banging West Loop, Ace attracts the cool millennial set and ‘CULTURAL ENTHUSIASTS’. Combine beers with skyline views at the great rooftop bar, or check out the lobby restaurant City Mouse, which unsurprisingly has a reputation for great burgers and a HARD TO BEAT brunch.  Rooms are deceptively simple though spacious and well curated.  The brand has a passion for music so it comes as no surprise that some of the larger rooms feature the hotel’s SIGNATURE TURNTABLES and a selection of curated vinyl, and can also be equipped with an acoustic Martin guitar.

The James – Magnificent Mile

With such a relaxed vibe, The James has a sleek, MODERN design and is a strong supporter of the arts (#artatthejames #jamespublicart), often showcasing a featured artist in residence. For the serial shopper, Michigan Ave is just steps away, and be sure to check out the SECRET BAR, Jimmy’s At The James…ask the doorman how to find it! Anyone with an active inclination will love the gym, and guests can also make use of the hotel’s signature bikes to explore the downtown sites.

The Robey

Sitting on the cusp of two hipster neighbourhoods, Wicker Park and Bucktown, this boutique hotel is also housed in two distinct buildings – part warehouse, part ART DECO landmark tower with interiors of minimal chic meets industrial raw. Rooms are light-drenched and the neighbourhood feel will see the design-centric gravitating here at the happening ROOFTOP Cabana Club! Notice the cool touches like the DENIM BATHROBES and Le Labo bath products.

St Jane – opening mid 2018

Set to open June 18, I think I could get into a SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP with this hotel! Certainly one to watch, with the St Jane taking their position in the Carbide and Carbon Building, which itself is a 1929 MASTERPIECE of architecture. So named, as a nod to Jane Addams, the Chicago activist and first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Think DECADENT art deco with a twist of hipster. Expect to find us checking out the indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge on the 24th floor very soon!

Soho House Chicago

With an aesthetic of exposed-brick-walled loft spaces, high ceilings, large windows, wood floors, oriental rugs and armchairs you can sink into, you’ll want to move in! Fitting right into the cool WEST LOOP surrounds, the Soho House brand is recognised as the place to stay by the CREATIVE set, with numerous locations around the world, and yet again, its social vibe is POPULAR with locals as well as travellers. Complete with a gym that includes a boxing ring, fantastic restaurant options, Cowshed Spa, plus a KILLER rooftop pool set up, it’s fair to say we’re a huge fan!

Viceroy Chicago

Located in the HIP Gold Coast neighbourhood with rooms featuring floor to ceiling windows, to enhance the SPECTACULAR views of the city skyline and The Great Lake to boost…..though for the best views, head to the seasonal rooftop pool!


Look up!

Experience the best of Chicago’s architecture, by taking the ‘Must-See Chicago tour’ with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, taking in The Rookery worked on by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Carbide and Carbon Building by Daniel Burnham Jr. and Hubert Burnham, and of course Zaha Hadid’s iconic The Bean sculpture in Millennium Park. Be sure to head to the bar on the 96th floor of 875 North Michigan Ave (previously the John Hancock Building) where you can literally drink in the view. More must sees include the Wrigley Building, the Chicago Theatre and of course The Willis Tower (aka the Sears Tower).

Get Cultured!

Head for the famous Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) to enjoy a huge range of works and regular exhibitions. The collection includes works by Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, and Francis Bacon to name a few. Josef Paul Kleihues is the German architect behind the impressive feature staircase.

And don’t by-pass the Art Institute of Chicago either. Founded in 1879 this treasure trove art museum offers over 300,000 pieces in its permanent collection.

The Second City – this comedy club, with an illustrious comedic alumni including Joan Rivers, Bill Murray, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, John Candy, The Belushi Bros, Amy Poehler, Alan Alder, Stephen Colbert (phew, we’re just scratching the comedian surface here) is a must night out! Its iconic status demands bookings be made well in advance though.

Eat & Be Merry!

With the notoriety of bootleggers and speakeasies, Chicago has no shortage of bars! Great dining options are a plenty too and the city currently boasts 25 Michelin star restaurants to keep indulgent foodies occupied. But a few noteworthy options when you’re in town should include…

Bellmore: For new American cuisine. On the menu, try the oyster pie served with a glass of Moët and Chandon 2009 Grand Vintage.

Pizzeria Uno: Considered by locals as the birthplace of the deep dish (pizza turned pie) and where they bring out-of-towners to impress, and impressed they will be!

Beatnik: A hint of posh blended with a bit of Moroccan décor in West Town where they spin reggae, Brazilian soul and Middle Eastern classic rock on the decks.

S.K.Y: Named after Chef Gillanders’ wife Seong Kyoung Yuk, S.K.Y has popped up in an old office space in the super-trendy Pilsen neighbourhood. Try the Maine lobster dumplings and black truffle croquettes!

Three Dots and a Dash: This tiki bar (as the name clearly suggests?@!) serves up drinks in some crazy vessels like treasure chests or skulls. You can buy these to…make a fine souvenir perhaps?! For a laugh and rowdy scene, be sure to venture below street level to this River North bar.

Door No. 3: In the spirit of the Prohibition era, Door No. 3 is a no frills speakeasy in the basement of live venue Double Door in Wicker Park, where you can discover comedy acts, DJ or acoustic sets.

Catch a game!

As a passionate sports town, Chicago’s got sports fanatics covered, no matter the season!  Whether it’s an NBA game supporting the Bulls or baseball fans can cheer on the Cubs at Wrigley Field or the White Sox. For high drama action, you can’t beat ice hockey!  Are you a Blackhawks or Wolves supporter?  And of course, Bears fans should head to Soldier Field to take in an NFL match.

Retail Therapy!

Retail Therapy! Just for starters, walk down Michigan Ave, the “Magnificent Mile” for top tier fashion flagships or head to Oak Street…Chicago’s Rodeo Drive baby…your Airpoints affiliated credit card will thank you for it!

Ikram: Head to Ikram Goldman’s red sanctuary (Michelle Obama’s former stylist) for high-end women’s fashion.  The perfectly curated designer selection is complimented with their own art gallery and café for a uniquely immersive shopping experience.

Barneys Chicago:  ♥♥♥♥♥♥ Can we please move in?!!

Dial M For Modern: Be inspired with American and Danish mid century modern furniture and décor with a touch of 70’s flair thrown in for fun.  Great small gifts for the conscious traveller.

Festival Fever!

For Coachella vets, you may want to consider a change of scenery and head to  Pitchfork (July 20-22) in Union Park – this year’s diverse line up ranges from Chaka Khan to Tame Impala.  Not long after comes Lollapalooza (August 2-5) in Grant Park with a mammoth line up headlined by Arctic Monkeys, The Weeknd, Bruno Mars and Jack White.

Get a crew together!


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