Ask a concierge: Chicago

At the La Quinta Inn & Suites in downtown Chicago, concierge Bill Navarre has spent 17 years guiding visitors to the best things to do and see and the top places to dine in the “Windy City.” Here he offers guidance for business travelers.

What’s the most important thing for business travelers to pack when they’re heading to your city?

Bring the right gear for the season. Chicago can be hot in the summer is will always be cold in the winter, so pack accordingly. This won’t fit in your suitcase, but make sure you bring your appetite, too! Chicago is consistently ranked as one of the top food destinations in the U.S. From fine dining to neighborhood taquerias, you’ll have no problem finding a great meal.

What’s your top restaurant recommendation for a business lunch or dinner?

If you’re looking to impress a client or celebrate a special occasion, RPM Steak (66 W. Kinzie St; 312-284-4990) is my go-to recommendation. Lunches are exceptional and affordable, with the dry-aged steak burger or lobster roll both priced at US$18. Request the upper level mezzanine, which overlooks the main dining room and bar. It’s quieter than the main area and has a great view. You may get lucky and spot a celebrity.

What’s one thing that always surprises guests about your hotel?

Guests are extremely surprised about the look and feel of our nine-story hotel, a flagship for La Quinta. We completed a multi-million dollar, top-to-bottom renovation in 2017, and guests love our fresh, modern decór.

If business travelers only have a few hours for leisure, what must they see in your city?

An architectural cruise along the Chicago River is a 75-minute crash course in the city’s architecture and history. Cruises usually run from April to September and cost around $35 per person. If you prefer something land-based, Big Bus offers hop on/hop off tours year round.

What’s the best option for outdoor exercise in your city?

Do anything along our beautiful lakefront—biking, running or walking at a leisurely pace. It’s the perfect setting for exercise. Divvy bike rental stations all around downtown make it easy to see the lakefront—or explore some downtown neighborhoods—on two wheels.

Business know-how

Concierge Bill Navarre

Concierge Bill Navarre’s top tips for getting business right in Chicago:

  1. Punctuality is key for meetings in the friendly but down-to-business Midwest, so plan ahead for traffic delays and get there with a little time to spare.
  2. Business casual attire is acceptable in most restaurants. Check the restaurant’s website if you’re unsure.
  3. Don’t forget to tip. Servers, bartenders, bell staff, taxi and ride-share drivers—pretty much anyone in the service industry—works hard to please. Give a 15% tip for great service.