Special anniversaries or the need to escape Arizona’s intense heat with a loved one.
To celebrate or cool down, the Windy City beckons with its luxurious hotels, indulgent spas, hideaway candlelit restaurants and activities that are memorable and romantic.
Chicago has 77 neighborhoods that boast a variety of cuisines, shopping and entertainment.
Known as a live theater city — it has 250 theaters, 225 live music venues and 200 dance companies — the venues are welcoming guests.
Chicago is roughly three and a half hours by plane and is in the Central time zone. The third-largest U.S. city, it has more than 7,300 restaurants and 167 breweries — the most of any metro area in the country.
Stay: The Four Seasons Chicago
While Chicago has no shortage of boutique and luxury hotels, the newly renovated Four Seasons Chicago, 120 E. Delaware Place, Chicago, makes its name by offering personalized services.
Recognizing that no two guests long for the same things, it is ready to customize a stay and provide the services that each of its guests wants.
If you’re looking for a romantic stay, put the Four Seasons on your list.
It has rotating package getaways and is willing to custom-design a couples experience. The concierge will help set up reservations and ticket purchases for any of the many attractions surrounding the property, and if they are within two miles of the hotel, guests can take the complimentary house car to them.
Visitors can spend time with a curator, who will provide a guided art tour followed by a custom tasting menu with chef Jonathon Sawyer.
The guest rooms are spacious and comfortable, all with amazing city views. Consider one of the lakeview king suites, all more than 30 floors up.
Once guests are comfortably ensconced in their room, they can order goodies such as ice cream confections or custom crafted cocktails, in addition to a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Room service is available 24 hours.
And for the ultimate romantic indulgent experience? Reserve a skylight swim with the hotel’s 50-foot Roman indoor pool and hot tub. The domed ceiling reveals the Chicago stars, and enjoy the champagne and canapes.
Eat: Geja’s Café
Everyone who visits Chicago has a favorite restaurant, but for a couples getaway, choose the eatery that has been voted the city’s most romantic.
Geja’s Café, 340 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago, is a fondue restaurant where live flamenco and classic guitar music serenades guests. It originally opened in Old Town as a wine and cheese bar in 1965 and then moved to its current location in 1971. The current owner — who is only the second one since it opened — has helped to plan more than 600 marriage proposals, including his own.
“We’ve developed into this romantic restaurant where people are having first dates, getting engaged, celebrating anniversaries,” owner Jeff Lawler says.
“We’re quite honored. Back in the day in 2019 when dining was normal, we’d see two to three couples a week get engaged. I’ve seen up to seven in one week.”
Climbing down the stairs off the street, guests are greeted by dim, red lighting with walls of wine bottles separating booths.
Tables feel intimate. There is a large wine list and a three-course fondue meal starting with cheeses, moving on to the main entrees and then ending with a flaming chocolate fondue.
Want an extra special touch? The restaurant has partnered with Dilly Lilly for personalized flower arrangements. They include “Budding Love,” “Warm Embrace” and “Love You ‘This Much’ Bouquet.”
Lawler’s insider tip? Don’t eat off the hot fondue forks.
“People are unsuspecting, and they burn their lip,” Lawler says. “If you’re on a date, there’s no kissy kissy afterward, because you have a burnt lip.”
Indulge: Chuan Spa
Romance gets turned on high heat when each member of the couple transports their mind, body and spirit to a place of wellness and peace.
One great place to achieve that sort of serenity in Chicago is at the Chuan Spa, located in the Langham Hotel Chicago. 330 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago.
Upon arrival, guests pass through a rounded Moon Gate, introducing a transformative experience.
Chuan, which means “running water” in Chinese, is a place where East meets West and the concept of Zen is incorporated into all of the design. It balances yin and yang with the men’s locker room decorated in dark colors and the women’s in light colors.
Couples part ways for their respective locker rooms to undergo a natural water journey, the Chuan bath ritual. The hot and cold rooms lull guests into deep relaxation and well-being.
There are two dry saunas — herbal and salt stone.
There is an Oriental steam room infused with chamomile. Across from it are rainforest cold showers to step into between the heated rooms. Chuan also features an aromatherapy shower.
Just beyond the sauna and steam rooms is a relaxation area with heated stone recliners.
Chuan also offers a variety of services ranging from a Tibetan sound ritual to a ginger refresher body scrub and a two-hour Chuan Chicago signature escape: five Wu Xing elements in one.
The latter incorporates bells, fiery oils, mud bath, heated bamboo and wet towels, and hydrating oils to touch upon all of the five traditional elements of Wu Xing.
It also offers several services specifically for men. The Chuan executive indulgence focuses on hard-working hands and feet with a scalp massage. Other treatments include Chuan man maintenance facial and Chuan man’s world (this features a back exfoliation and a facial with men’s complexion needs in mind).
After the services, couples meet in the relaxation room with its peaceful waterfalls to enjoy sparkling wine, infused water and light snacks.
Tour: Chicago Premiere Dinner Cruise
After the pampering, it’s time to take on the city. Chicago is a city of water — bounded by Lake Michigan and infiltrated with the Chicago River — so take romance to a city cruise.
There are several to choose from in a range of prices. Most focus on architecture tours wherein guests cruise the Chicago River and take in the history of the city’s skyscrapers.
Others offer such themes as Chicago’s crime and mob scene or even a “Gangsters and Ghost” tour with a historian.
If floating upon Lake Michigan is a preference, make a reservation with the Chicago Premiere Dinner Cruise and set sail on a high-end luxury yacht with a three-course gourmet meal informed by celebrity chefs. An onboard DJ plays music during the sunset cruise.
The three-hour jaunt encourages passengers to dress to impress for the festive evening. They’ll take photos and escort guests to a private table.
Servers help determine how fast food should arrive and the types of delicacies. Alcohol is available, but it is not included in the price.
During the summer, guests can upgrade their cruise to include a fireworks display over the waters on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and some Thursdays and Fridays.
Immerse: Van Gogh Immersive Experience
Chicago is a city of art, from the sculptures on the streets to the many art galleries and art museums. One of the hottest new exhibits — one that visited the Valley — is the Immersive Van Gogh experience.
Viewers step into a large room with high ceilings and are surrounded by the immersive projections of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork presented in an all-new format.
The projections are cast upon the floors, ceilings and walls, and with the newly composed music, they morph in and out in a stunning video portrayal.
Want to take the experience up a notch? Chicago’s exhibition offers packages for couples, claiming, “We’ve made it simple to transform your date night into one for the ages.”
How do they do that? Upon arrival, skip the line and head to a private Juliet balcony for a bird’s-eye view of the exhibition. The floor is covered in rose petals, which, along with the delicate mirrors, reflect the projections and create a romantic photo opportunity.
Chocolate truffles and champagne are served, and they’re given a handcrafted floral arrangement as a memory of the date. Also among the gifts are a Van Gogh cushion, a limited-edition poster and a VIP souvenir laminate badge.
Love in the big city
No matter what options you choose, Chicago beckons desert dwellers to spend a romantic weekend of water, skyscrapers, great food and memorable moments to inscribe in the storybook of a relationship.
The Four Seasons Chicago
WHERE: 120 E. Delaware Place, Chicago
COST: Prices change with season and date, but generally range from $500 to $5,000 a night
INFO: 312.280.8800, fourseasons.com/chicago
WHERE: 340 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago
COST: Dinners range from $45 to $70 per person plus beverages
INFO: 773.281.9101, gejascafe.com
WHERE: 330 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago
COST: Services range from $180 for hand and foot treatments to $625 for a three-hour signature escape
INFO: 312.923.7650, langhamhotels.com
Chicago Premiere Dinner Cruise
WHERE: 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago
COST: Starting at $159 per person
Immersive Van Gogh
WHERE: Lighthouse ArtSpace at Germania Club, 108 W. Germania Place, Chicago
COST: Regular tickets range from $40 to $50 plus fees; the couples experience ranges from $200 to $550
INFO: 1.844.307.4644, vangoghchicago.com