Chicago is one of the biggest convention towns in the nation, so if you are committed to celebrating with us in October, we recommend not waiting too long to lock in a hotel room. Here are a few suggestions for truly unique places to stay in the city:

Essex Inn

800 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

Rates: $99

The exterior of this hotel is not particularly inviting, but the clean rooms are tastefully decorated. As well, the views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park from some of the accommodations are worth the stay in and of themselves. Service is usually pleasant and courteous, but often the staff is in too much of a hurry.

A recent renovation focused on the rooftop (fourth floor) swimming pool, surrounded by retractable glass and leading out to a terrace made of Brazilian hardwood. The new, large fitness center offers all types of workout equipment. The on-site restaurant includes a bar and serves American cuisine; tables overlook Michigan Avenue. Theatre, sports, shopping and museum packages are available if guests call ahead for details. Located across the street from Grant Park, this place is within walking distance of Buckingham Fountain, the Museum Campus and Soldier Field. It offers shuttle service to many of Chicago's finer shopping districts.

Hotel Allegro Chicago

171 West Randolph
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Rates: $139-$165

Created by famed Beverly Hills designer, Cheryl Rowley, the Allegro blends vintage art deco design with contemporary furnishings that create an ambience that pleases all. Complimentary wine hour takes placed nightly at 5pm in the living room and listen to some of the greatest music ever made, while enjoying the hospitality of the hotel that makes Chicago world famous. Located in the heart of the theatre district, the Allegro is within walking distance of the lake, Michigan Avenue shops and Grant Park.

Hotel Burnham

1 West Washington
Chicago IL 60602

Rates: $159

Built in 1895, this former State Street office building is now a boutique hotel within six blocks of Loop theaters and businesses. The Magnificent Mile is one mile away. Pets of any size are welcome, with snacks, food dishes, toys, and special bedding provided; dog-walking services and grooming resources are available upon request. All 122 guestrooms are decorated with dark-wood furniture and chaise lounges. A pillow library offers 10 options, including buckwheat, full body, and neckbrace pillows.

Hotel 71

71 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Rates: $199

This modern 40-story tower, built in 1958 and revamped in 2002, sits just across the river from North Michigan Avenue (the Magnificent Mile) and six blocks from Lake Michigan. Hotel 71 now provides a French restaurant, 24-hour business and fitness centers, and streamlined décor -- dark (in the lobby), light (in the rooms), and modern throughout. The 454 guestrooms are extra-large and have suede headboards, fantastic linens, and H2O bath amenities. All provide leather ergonomic chairs and mini-stereos; many offer city views.

Palmer House Hilton

17 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603

Rates: $199-$244

A Chicago landmark and downtown mainstay whose elegance remains undimmed after more than a century of operation. The breathtaking lobby ceiling features oil paintings of figures from Greek mythology. It was immortalized as a symbol of urban opulence in the classic musical "Showboat."

In the 1,640 guest rooms and 83 suites, the decor is more subdued than in the ornate lobby. The hotel's vintage charm remains, however, in the bathrooms' deep tubs. Standard rooms include fully-stocked refreshment mini-bars; suites have separate sitting and dining areas plus wet bars. Perks for business travelers include audio/visual equipment rental, a business center and in-room ethernet data ports. Other amenities include a pet-friendly policy, a fitness center with steam room and sauna and an indoor pool.

Loews House of Blues Hotel Chicago

333 North Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60610

Rates: $169-$249

Nestled in the Marina City complex on the Chicago River, this colorful hotel next to the House of Blues and two blocks from the Loop blends luxury with a laid-back attitude. The hotel blends artistic influences from Morocco, East India, and the American South to create a wild visual experience for guests, who also enjoy priority access to concerts. The 367 rooms are kaleidoscopes of colors and patterns-some have leopard-print settees-with original American folk art, CD players, and minibars full of edible treats and harmonicas.

In addition, check out the following sites for more hotel recommendations:

and of course: