For a 120-year-old National Historic Landmark, Chicago’s Reliance Building — home to our Hotel Burnham — is looking pretty good for its age. Not a day over 100! But anyplace that’s been around for generations deserves a little nip/tuck now and again, right? So in honor of the building’s 120th anniversary, Hotel Burnham has undergone an extensive renovation of its guestrooms, as well as the onsite restaurant, Atwood.
The Reliance Building was one of the nation’s first modern skyscrapers and was the first to be constructed after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Experiencing the vision and masterwork of legendary architect and city designer Daniel Burnham is like traveling back in time to the apex of Chicago’s architectural boom at the end of the 19th century. Hotel Burnham and the Reliance Building reign on as a palpable piece of history in downtown Chicago. In fact, other than a stay at Hotel Burnham, the only way you could get more up-close and personal with buildings of architectural significance would be to stow away in one of the city’s museums and sleep over night. (Don’t do that, though.)
When it came time to renovate for the new millennium, it was crucial to retain that sense of history, so it’s with that ethos in mind that Hotel Burnham has been polished head to toe with a nod to the architectural legacy of the building.
Warm woods have been sculpted into classic silhouettes and patterns, paired with modern details on a mostly neutral palette. Fresh and bright artwork adds a touch of cheerful character, while high-end finishes and designer elements make the rooms feel unique, bringing a bit of pomp and circumstance. It all creates a soothing, sophisticated and comfortable space to relax, work and rejuvenate.
The other major component of the hotel revamp is the restaurant. It went from Atwood Cafe to re-emerge as Atwood, named for Charles Atwood, one of the architects who worked with Burnham on the original Reliance Building. The remodeled dining space promises to be the hot social setting in the Loop, complete with a new dining room and an expanded bar area, designed by Virginia-based BCDG Studio to evoke a sense of timeless elegance. They did it via white subway-tile walls contrasted by warm tones, along with millwork columns, tufted leather banquettes, a 16-foot-long wood-top bar, classic white tabletops, and high-top bar seating with front-row views to State Street through massive windows.
Diners can explore Executive Chef Brian Millman’s seasonal American cuisine for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. His playful and progressive touches on classic American flavors lead to memorable dishes like sriracha- and honey-glazed duck-fat fried chicken; crispy sweetbreads in sweet-and-sour sauce; and rhubarb upside-down cake with strawberry cream-cheese ice cream. (Home chefs can check out his crunchy croquette recipe right here.) Then get thirsty for drinks from head bartender Ray Anguiano, who’s shaking things up with classic and signature cocktails, along with six new draft-beer lines.
Take a quick peek at the transition: