For New Year’s Eve this year, my husband Ryan and I made a last-minute trip into Chicago to stay at Longman & Eagle. I’ve written about the proper six-room inn above the Logan Square restaurant of the same name–both here and for the magazine I used to work for, CS Interiors–so I’ve had a tour of all the rooms, interviewed the owners/designers, the works, but I’ve never actually stayed there. Being in the space overnight as a guest gave me a chance to really appreciate all the thoughtful little details that make staying there there such a special experience (beyond the fact that the rooms and furniture were all designed and built by one of the owners): handmade wooden drink coins, mixed tapes, custom wooden speakers, chambray sheets made by the local company Unison, hanging terrariums over the bathroom sink, wallpaper in the restaurant bathrooms made from black and white pages of an old magazine, a minibar filled with snacks like Gunslinger beef jerky. Aside from a quick stop at the MCA to see the Andrew Bird and instrument maker Ian Schneller collaborative exhibit, Sound Garden (on its last day), and our favorite haunt in our old neighborhood (The Rainbo), we didn’t leave Longman & Eagle. We didn’t need to. We ate dinner there (a special New Year’s Eve tasting menu) sat at the long wooden bar for an after-dinner drink, and hung out in the room (I read the entire Logan Square Literary Review) before heading back downstairs in the morning for the kind of meaty brunch that makes men out of boys. I opted for the PRB breakfast sans PBR, which felt kind of wimpy considering some of the other, more daring options (spicy brioche with bacon pudding!). But I was craving something simple, and it was damn good.
I’m in Chicago right now for some magazine work, and I stopped into one of my favorite design shops to say hi to owner Angela Finney. As always, the space–part shop, part gallery, part incubator–looked amazing. If you’re traveling to Chicago, this is the very best place to get a feel for the local design scene. Angela, who used to design furniture and lighting for Holly Hunt before striking out on her own, has an unmatched eye for really special vintage pieces. She brings in furniture and accessories (an upholstered asterisk by Roscoe Jackson, amazing wood-planed light sculpture by local woodworker Steven Teichelman and ceramics by one of my favorites, Up in the Air Somewhere), creates/builds in-store installations and collaborates on special projects of her own design, all while hosting pretty regular art shows and acting as the unofficial mayor of the West Grand Avenue design corridor she helped pioneer. Every time I’m there, it looks completely different–and somehow, even better than the time before.
In Chicago’s Logan Square, this neighborhood inn sits on top of one of the city’s coolest, most unpretentiously delicious restaurants, Longman & Eagle, where everything in it was designed and built by the owners with help from their friends/family. The four owners, who are also behind the indie music venue Empty Bottle, opened a bar so they’d have a place to hang out in a neighborhood they love, but the place has far exceeded expectations, recently nabbing a Michelin star for a menu they call “kind of an afterthought.” The much-anticipated inn opens in a week or two. I was there on a photo shoot Monday for a story in CS Interiors, which will delve into the impeccable, clever design of the place. Like the all the local art (including screen-printed wallpaper by a local collective), pendant lights fashioned from lizard lamps, locally designed bedding by Unison, and all the glorious woodwork by owner Robert McAdams’s woodworking company, Mode Carpentry. Once the six rooms are ready, reservations won’t last long. It’s one of the only lodging options in Chicago that manages to capture the creative spirit of this city: hardworking and a little masculine, edgy but still down-to-earth, and fiercely local, local, local.