The 10 best places to poop in Downtown Chicago

Published On 04/11/2014 Published On 04/11/2014
best chicago hotel bathrooms
Sean Cooley

Being caught Downtown with a touchy belly and no lay of the land for public restrooms can be an Armageddon-level crisis. So we turned to Zack Shornick, who runs the blog Hotels I've Pooped In, to recommend his top 10 spots – hotels with discreet and peaceful toilets – to go number two in.

Sean Cooley

10. Hotel Palomar (click here for address and info)
Near North Side
Nearby: Chicago Riverwalk, Shopping & Nightlife
Number of toilets/urinals: Two Stalls (One Handicap-Accessible), Three Urinals
“The bathroom at the Palomar is a bit bothersome at first – like the first impression of your best friend in college, it's overly masculine and smells of strong cologne, but it grows on you. Move past the 'cool' and take in the 'calm' of the dark, copper, and walnut space. Also: the light clanking of forks on plates from the restaurant next door is a surprising pleasure.”

Sean Cooley

9. La Quinta Inn & Suites -- Downtown Chicago (click here for address and info)
The Loop
Nearby: The Sears Tower, Union Station
Number of toilets/urinals: One Handicap-Accessible Stall, One Urinal
“You may think chain hotels aren't known for luxury, but they definitely put some thought into this restroom. The stall is spacious and the faux zebrawood flooring hides dirt well, a pro-move for any experienced franchise. You'll easily be able to pit-stop here on a Skydeck date with her being none-the-wiser."

Sean Cooley

8. Omni Chicago Hotel (click here for address and info)
Near North Side
Nearby: Magnificent Mile, Water Tower, Museum of Contemporary Art
Number of toilets/urinals: Two Stalls (One Handicap-Accessible), Two Urinals
“The fourth floor of the Omni is saturated with that mysterious business-trip essence of rudimentary conferences combined with unreserved escape. Layered in copper and bronze marble, diamond-patterned gold paper, and cheap blues tunes overhead, you could easily imagine yourself as Richard Gere in Pretty Woman – leaving the stall behind like you’re in your power suit, headed for the hotel’s fourth floor bar to meet your waiting companion. Unwind and unload.”

Sean Cooley

7. Thompson Chicago (click here for address and info)
Gold Coast
Nearby: Big-Name Shopping & Nightlife
Number of toilets/urinals: One Unisex, Handicap-Accessible Stall
“The Thompson’s lobby is a hipster’s dream ski cabin -- cottage comforts paired seamlessly with sleek mid-century modern lines. And like a small cabin, the bathroom only has room for one. This means privacy, for you shy users. The bathroom here mimics the lobby well, blending low, glowing lighting from exposed Edison bulbs with gray wallpaper reminiscent of an old, tin ceiling, and hexagonal tiles borrowed from the floor of a cheap family pizzeria. Just be sure you locked the door, as it’s a long walk from the toilet with your pants down.”

Sean Cooley

6. The James Hotel (click here for address and info)
Near North Side
Nearby: Navy Pier, Eataly, Uno’s, Grand Luxe
Number of toilets/urinals: Three Stalls (One Handicap-Accessible), Two Urinals
"The facilities are far enough from the lobby to secure privacy, and the atmosphere, though leaning on the utilitarian side, is a well-melted pot of industrial DIY-chic: stainless steel, indie dance beats, and your Grandmother’s eggplant-colored bathroom tile. It sounds counterintuitive, but the narrow stalls work to the bathroom's benefit, like a sensory deprivation chamber that allows you to meditate and release all of your tensions."

Sean Cooley

5. The Palmer House Hilton (click here for address and info)
The Loop
Nearby: Millennium Park, The Art Institute, Shopping & Restaurants
Number of toilets/urinals: Four Stalls (One Handicap-Accessible), Four Urinals
"This spot is an incredible place to have in your back pocket. Not only is it central to so much of the Loop’s offerings, but the lobby and bathroom are also both so large that it's incredibly easy to go in -- and out -- completely unnoticed. The facility itself is clean and brightly lit, yet also warm. A dry floral scent hugs you in, and the tile-work and damasked walls are calming and reserved, yet ornate – like a Grecian bath."

Sean Cooley

4. Hotel Lincoln (click here for address and info)
Old Town
Nearby: Second City, Lincoln Park Zoo, Park West
Special Amenities: Map of the world
Number of toilets/urinals: One Handicap-Accessible Stall, Two Urinals
"Doing your business in this bathroom is like doing your business in a 1950s toy trunk, and I mean that in the best possible way! An overwhelming feeling of childhood nostalgia will overtake you as soon as you enter. The chevron flooring is littered with Crayola colors, and the oversized, gold houndstooth wallpaper is just like the lining in your Grandfather’s old topcoat. It’s just a fun room to be in. And when you start to hear Dave Matthews’ "Too Much" linger in from the lobby, you’ll know where you were meant to be."

Sean Cooley

3. The Allerton Hotel (click here for address and info)
Nearby: Magnificent Mile, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Number of toilets/urinals: One Handicap-Accessible Stall, One Urinal
"The Allerton Hotel is a 1920s city landmark, and its small bathroom would kiiiinda be the perfect setting for a secret gentleman’s lounge. You will enter in awe of wall-to-wall cherrywood and white marble. A solid rhythm section whispering into your ears, you’ll wish to yourself, "If only I had a Glenlivet with a splash". It’s private, it’s classy, and you’ll feel like a pooping Don Draper."

Sean Cooley

2. The Conrad Hotel (click here for address and info)
Nearby: Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile
Special Amenities: Complimentary salt scrub from Sun Coast Salts
Number of toilets/urinals: Three Stalls (One Handicap-Accessible), Four Urinals
"The Conrad is a swanky hotel, but it's far enough from main shopping and bars in the area that its lavish lobby and spotless bathroom are a welcoming quiet comfort. Like a little oasis, the bathroom is a mini-spa featuring salt scrub for your hands, beach-shutter doors, sand-speckled granite, and a lovely orchid in the vanity's corner. The plumbing is very powerful too, so beware: you may feel a rumble in your seat."

Sean Cooley

1. Renaissance Blackstone Hotel (click here for address and info)
South Loop
Nearby: Grant Park, Printer’s Row, Shedd Aquarium
Number of toilets/urinals: Two Stalls (One Handicap-Accessible), One Urinal
"Ever wonder how Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters feel when pooping in those Baz Luhrmann films? The Blackstone’s décor is from a marvelously stylized noir, and it tunnels down into this nearly unused facility in the lower lobby. A dramatic molding crowns over a sea of black and white marble, ebony wood walls, and a light quatrefoil wallpaper while melodies of a Pitchfork playlist call out softly from the unseen distance. It’s easy to sink into this surrounding, but don’t get carried away – the overhead lights are on a motion sensor and you might get left in the dark."

Get more of Zack Shornick’s bathroom recommendations on Tumblr - Hotels I've Pooped In - and Twitter @HotelsIPoopedIn.

Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and he miraculously photographed each bathroom without anyone walking in. Follow him @SeanCooley.

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1. Thompson Chicago 21 E Bellevue PL, Chicago, IL 60611 (Gold Coast)

This Gold Coast boutique hotel offers comfort in a luxurious setting, boasting features like a 24hr fitness center, complimentary WiFi, access to a pair of restaurants, and more.

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2. The James Chicago 55 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611 (Magnificent Mile)

Located on the Magnificent Mile, the James Chicago offers comfortable stays in well-appointed accommodations. With numerous room options and a myriad of amenities -- including a bar, lounge, spa, fitness center, David Burke's Primehouse restaurant, and Burke's Bacon Bar (!) -- you can't go wrong with a stay at the James.

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3. Palmer House Hilton 17 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

First opened in 1871, this downtown hotel has become a classic mainstay of the city, located within walking distance to numerous attractions like Millennium Park, Grant Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago. It features luxurious rooms and amenities like a fitness center, restaurants, bars, and a spa.

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4. The Allerton Hotel Chicago 701 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (Near North Side)

The Allerton towers over Downtown Chicago, offering quality rooms with a view, delicious seasonal cuisine at the M Avenue Restaurant, and cocktails at the M Avenue Lounge.

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5. The Conrad Chicago 521 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611 (Near North Side)

Conrad Hotel is a swank Near North hotel with breathtaking views, a PILLOW menu, and very welcoming staff.

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6. Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel 636 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (Loop)

This South Loop hotel is just minutes away from the beautiful Grant Park, with outstanding views and great complimentary services.

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7. Hotel Palomar 505 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Near North Side)

Finding its home in the Near North Side, the Palomar is a top-rated hotel that keeps you close to all the shopping, drinking, and eating that you want to do in downtown Chicago. But you don't have to go far for a fun night out: the Sable Kitchen & Bar offers a high-energy bar scene. A nod to father of Chicago Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the bar brings the elegant 1940s back to life, inspired by the art and science of creating refreshing and surprising cocktails.

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8. La Quinta Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown 1 S Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60606 (Loop)

This Loop hotel offers a prime location to plenty of Chicago attractions, quality comfort, and numerous features such as a pool, free WiFi, complimentary breakfasts, and more.

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9. Omni Hotel Chicago 676 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (Near North Side)

Whether you're enjoying a meal at the 676 Restaurant & Bar, grabbing an after-dinner cocktail at Café 676, or just looking for a great place to stay on the Magnificent Mile, the Omni Hotel Chicago is there for you.

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10. Hotel Lincoln 1816 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

Overlooking acres of park and miles of Lake Michigan, Hotel Lincoln brings luxury and comfort to the Lincoln Park area. First-rate accommodations include eats from award-winning Chef Paul Virant and a rooftop bar with a retractable cover and fire pit. There is a comp wine happy hour Sun-Thurs and a great coffee shop as well.



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