Miles From Monday: Public Hotel


"It occurs to me that I’ve spent my entire adulthood trying to integrate my travel life with my “real” life, hoping I might bridge that unbridgeable ocean between home and away. Why else would I model my apartment after far-flung hotels, if not to persuade my ideal self to come back and live with me?"

-Peter Jon Lindberg, "The Art of Bringing Hotel Design Home," Travel and Leisure

January 28, 2013, Washington, DC: On an icy morning like this one, I fantasize about not having to go anywhere. About chores and responsibilities fading away. About waking up in a luxurious hotel and rolling downstairs for hot coffee and bagels and fresh squeezed orange juice. If not for Monday's obligations in this city miles away, I might go back there, to the Public Hotel on Chicago's Gold Coast, and linger well into the afternoon.

I sat there two months ago, the day after Thanksgiving. Outside the wind swirled and the temperature dropped. Inside, the hand on an enormous clock behind the concierge moved swiftly beside an oversized and twinkling Douglas fir. Guests triple-looped their scarves and scurried out into the cold. Others stayed put, ordering hot chocolate, working on their laptops, admiring each other's jewelry, waiting for friends. It was the day the season changed: Thanksgiving had been warm as spring and one day later, it was officially Christmas.

If given the chance today, I might return to the lobby of Public Chicago and spend the day lounging beneath its grand old archways and rustic wooden beams, paging through coffee table books and plotting my next trip abroad. I might sit there by the fireplace in the old Ambassador East, admiring its renovation and making plans to redecorate. I might reread "The Art of Bringing Hotel Design Home" and listen to a slow wintery song, reminiscent of crowds dancing on ice in Old Montreal. In the lobby of Public Chicago, I'd think back on my travels and take note of the many places I've yet to go.

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