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Guesthouse Hotel Wants Tourists to 'Live Like a Local'

 This summer the luxury boutique hotel at 4866 N. Clark St. will be born again when Simona and Dave Krug finish their latest expansion plans.
The Guesthouse Hotel
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UPTOWN — The Guesthouse Hotel, before donning its current name, was born in 2008 as a high-end condominium development with 10 units for sale on the cusp of Uptown and Andersonville. That didn't go so well in the thick of the recession.

Buyers were hard to find, forcing developer Dave Krug to fill vacancies by offering short-term vacation rentals. It worked so well that Krug's wife, Simona, said she was brought on board in 2010 to partner with her husband and rebrand the entire development as the Andersonville Guesthouse Hotel.

This summer the luxury boutique hotel at 4866 N. Clark St. — after dropping "Andersonville" from its name and adding 15 units next door — will be born again when the Krugs finish their latest expansion plans.

"I think it's stimulating for our guests to be here as opposed to the Loop or River North where they're going to get more of a tourist experience," said Simona Krug, a labor lawyer by trade. "Whereas here they're going to get more of an experience of what it's like to live in Chicago, because Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and Andersonville is a very cool neighborhood."

Her husband made similar statements in a news release about the expansion: “We want to create a different experience for travelers coming to Chicago — one that focuses on local neighborhood culture, offers comfort and independence, like that of your own home, and provides luxury accommodations at an affordable cost."

Crews have been working to finish the expansion for about a year and should be done this summer.

The hotel expansion features one- and two-bedroom suites to complement the current hotel, which has more two- and three-bedroom suites, and there are also penthouse units with private rooftop gardens being finished. The floor plans are spacious. Finishes are high-end, with hardwood floors, fireplaces, granite counters in the kitchen and subway tile in many bathrooms, where visitors also will find spa-quality steam showers. Most units have washers and dryers.

The lobby downstairs has an exercise room, and a "clubroom" with sitting space, a library and a retail shop selling clothing, bath accessories and other merchandise.

Hotel general manager Rick Verkler said there's "tremendous support from the neighbors" in the area who have family members visiting and use the guesthouse, essentially "as a spare bedroom." There are also lot of traveling Europeans who rent the apartments, and folks from other states visiting the Windy City. Verkler said "Texas is a big draw for us."

"They like everything big in Texas," he joked, comparing the spacious rooms at Guesthouse to more cramped hotel suites.

Rates at The Guesthouse vary according to peak and off-peak season pricing, but typically range from $150 per night for a one-bedroom to $360 per night for a three-bedroom suite with a balcony.

The Guesthouse motto is "live like a local."

The phrase rings of Andersonville, a small community that prides itself on its neighborhood focus, especially with its eclectic blend of small, independent businesses.

"So many of the businesses are indie-owned, family-owned, and each has its own personality," Simona Krug said.

The Krugs decided to bring one of those personalities along for The Guesthouse ride. Their good friend Shelly Elfstrom, who closed Urban Mischief for "new adventures" earlier this year, is their retail guru charged with running the small shop in the lobby.

"I feel very privileged to be a part of this," said Elfstrom, "and recreate a retail shopping experience that I'm looking forward to a lot of our former Urban Mischief characters appreciating, and coming to spend some time with us at the hotel."

River Valley Ranch & Kitchens in Ravenswood, owned by former Moto chef Jordan Rose, is partnering with Guesthouse to provide gourmet meals and River Valley products available for room service.

The Krugs, Ukrainian Village residents, dropped Andersonville from the Guesthouse name recently to "branch out," and keep the brand from being confined in people's minds to Andersonville.

Simona Krug, who said Guesthouse is considering expanding elsewhere in Chicago, emphasized: "We belong to ... Uptown, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood," not just Andersonville.

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