In Travel & Visitors Guide

The Ace Hotel has Downtown views and guitars.

Guitars in hotel rooms are a rockin' trend

Hotels boast all kinds of amenities – everything from a pool, gym and spa to turn-down service, rooftop bars and free coffee and pastries in the lobby, and beyond – and a wide variety of package deals that include meals, tickets to entertainment or sports events and more.

But, lately, I've noticed a new trend in hotel amenities, and it's one that hits the right note for me.

Three of the hotels I've visited in Chicago this year – out of perhaps six – have had guitars in the room. And whether or not I've spent a lot of time actually playing them, the guitars help make this nearly lifelong guitar dabbler feel at home.

It's comforting to see the six-string perched there in the corner, and if I have some down time, I just might do like I've often done in my life and lounge in front of the TV with the guitar and play along with the music in the commercials.

Last week, I hit Chicago to see a pair of concerts, so finding guitars in my hotel rooms seemed especially perfect.

Checking in to the Acme, at 15 E. Ohio St., in the heart of hopping River North, on the way to see Paul Weller around the corner at the House of Blues Thursday night, there was an ESP/LTD electric on a stand, with a headphone amp and Bowers & Wilkins cans (pictured at right).

Over the summer, Acme – which hosts some touring musicians and has a rock and roll vibe, with album covers in the elevators and New York Dolls-style smooches on the bathroom mirrors – had a Summer of Rock package that included the room guitar plus other bonuses like free vinyl, a Reckless Records gift certificate and a vintage portable record player in the room that you could take home.

While that deal is done, guests in Acme suites will still find the guitars and headphones when they arrive. Folks staying in other rooms can check out a guitar and phones for free at the front desk.

After seeing a stunning show by Iron & Wine on Friday – it was the second sold-out gig in two nights for Sam Beam and company at Thalia Hall in Pilsen – we landed at the Ace Hotel, which just opened in July at 311 N. Morgan St. in West Loop.

With the seemingly always bustling City Mouse restaurant in the lobby, a rooftop bar with stellar views of Downtown and a fifth floor roof patio, the Ace Hotel is the perfect option if you want to stay in a happening neighborhood that's also convenient to Downtown.

In the room there, perched at the intersection of the desk and the wall, was a Mexican-made Martin acoustic that was already in tune, which reminds me: remember to pay it forward and tune the guitar before you check it out.

With a view of the skyline out our window, I immediately picked up the guitar and strummed a bit of The Style Council's "Headstart for Happiness" in honor of our nth time seeing Weller. Though we spent most of our time at the Ace occupied with the gym, City Mouse and the photo booth in the lobby, I did pluck out a few more tunes before we left the next day.

Some rooms at the Ace also have turntables and curated vinyl selections for those more inclined to the DJ life.

In winter, I spent the night at the Freehand – at 19 E. Ohio St., next door to Acme, with which it shares a light court/air shaft – while in Chicago to check out the Field Museum's tattoo show, and the penthouse there is tricked out with guitars, too. Alas, I did not stay in the penthouse.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee's Ken Sumka tells me that the rock 'n' roll-themed Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago also has axes in the room, which seems like a no-brainer.

Best I can tell, Milwaukee hotels, however, have yet to, ahem, pick up on this trend.

When I posted on social media about the hotel guitars phenomenon one commenter said, "I hope the rooms are soundproof."

To that I'll just say that in all my years staying in all kinds of hotels on three continents, I've had plenty of annoying sounds disturb my peace, but never has the sound of a guitar been the source.

And at these hotels the only guitar I ever heard was the one I was playing – either through headphones or at a respectful low volume.

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