Ikram Barakat | Discover Renaissance Hotels

Ikram Barakat

Navigator Ikram Barakat taps into her creative side to helps guests find adventure in Chicago.

Navigator Biography

Born in Morocco and raised in Paris, Ikram Barakat may seem an unlikely advocate for the thrills and spills of Chicago. But after visiting the city in 1996, she has remained there ever since, and now helps guests at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel discover this spellbinding metropolis all for themselves. The truth is she was blown away by the Windy City at first sight. She cites “the diversity of cultures, architecture and the vibe of each neighborhood” as inspiring her relocation, and never tires of “biking along Lakeshore Drive and exploring different routes to work”. A former architect, Ikram enjoys the creative side of being a Navigator. She works with guests to build an itinerary matched to their precise needs; one that will help them discover a Chicago all of their own. “No request and discoverer are alike,” she says, “and that keeps the routine away from my daily experiences. But the best part is I get to share my discoveries with my discoverer.”Her finds include a gorgeously located riverside winery and a charming French café situated close to the hotel (and you can trust the Parisian on that one). But in a city as hip-and-happening as Chicago there are always more jewels to be uncovered. She backs up her self-taught knowledge through online research and newspapers. Another ace up Ikram's sleeve is her innate flair for languages - she speaks four currently and plans to learn more - which allows her to figure out exactly what her guests require from their stay. And when it comes to sharing her passion for Chicago, the Navigator is contagiously fluent.

Art Institute of Chicago - find
Photo by M. Janicki   under license
Resized and filter applied

Art Institute of Chicago

Like the Louvre in Paris, visitors from all over the world come to Chicago to view the many gorgeous exhibits showcased here.
From popular Rembrandt masterpieces to recent works by lesser-known artists, the Art Institute of Chicago houses one of the finest art collections in the world. Spanning centuries of human creativity, exhibits include a distinguished collection of prints and drawings, an internationally acclaimed collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, sculptures, photographs, Asian, African and American arts, architectural drawings, textiles and more. Many pieces are on loan from the famed Terra Foundation for American Art. Educational programs and guided museum tours are available. Art books, reproductions, postcards and other items are available in the museum shop. Free public lectures are given during weekends.
Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 60604, United States
Phone: +1 312 443 3600
Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday from 10:30 AM to 05:00 PM,Thursday to Friday from 10:30 AM to 09:00 PM,Saturday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Willis Tower - find
Photo by David Berkowitz   under license
Resized and filter applied

Willis Tower

Gaze in wonder at the famous Chicago skyline from atop the Sears (now Willis) tower. Enjoy exhibits and a gift shop as well as the view.
While no longer the world's tallest building, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) still stands proud. High-speed elevators climb 110 stories to the observatory deck, and when clear, the view from 1454 feet (443 meters) can be stunning. Enjoy bird's eye views of Lake Michigan, both the North and South Sides of the city, the surrounding suburbs and, on a clear day, parts of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Skydeck Tour also includes a multimedia presentation and an exhibit with information on the Sears Tower and other architecturally significant buildings.
Address: 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, 60606, United States
Phone: +1 312 875 0066
Bavette's Bar and Boeuf - find
Photo by TheBusyBrain   under license
Resized and filter applied

Bavette's Bar and Boeuf

Reserve a booth at this new, old-school style steakhouse and blow your Chicago clients away – most locals don’t even know about it yet.
Address: 218 West Kinzie Street, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 624 8154
Square One Wine Bar - find
Photo by Stewart   under license
Resized and filter applied

Square One Wine Bar

End a long day of meetings at this sophisticated-but-hip wine bar, with a crisp, bubbly Rosé and a platter of Vermilion Blue cheese and Serrano ham.
Address: 1400 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 60650, United States
Phone: +1 312 786 1750
Vivere - find
Photo by CeresB   under license
Resized and filter applied


Vivere's chefs take yearly trips to Italy to discover new dishes, treating you to delicacies from a culinary paradise.
Vivere is considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in all of Chicago. This trendy establishment has been designed by Jordon Mozer with gold and red hues, hanging lights and copper sculptures. It serves contemporary Italian cuisine, with new takes on traditional dishes like raviolis and spaghetti with meatballs. The wine list here is also one of the most extensive around.
Address: 71 West Monroe Street, Chicago, 60603, United States
Phone: +1 312 332 4040
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 11:30 AM to 02:30 PM,Monday to Thursday from 05:00 PM to 10:00 PM,Friday from 11:30 PM to 02:30 PM,Friday from 05:00 PM to 11:00 PM,Saturday from 05:00 PM to 11:00 PM


Indulge in chupe, a traditional Peruvian stew with prawns and swoon over the chicharrón, a pork belly confit complete with a barbecue glaze.
If you can't get to Peru right away, try the next best thing with a visit to Tanta. At this bright and trendy restaurant, diners can sample the beloved foods of Peru like cebiche, leche de tigre, causitas and anticuchos. The specialty cocktails are also Peruvian influenced, with the majority being based on pisco (a grape liquor native to Peru) and modern versions of traditional Peruvian drinks. So come to Tanta and experience the lively flavors of this ancient land.
Address: 118 West Grand Avenue, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 222 9700
Opening hours: Sunday to Monday from 05:00 PM to 09:00 PM,Tuesday to Thursday from 05:00 PM to 11:00 PM,Friday to Saturday from 05:00 PM to 12:00 AM


Exceptional cocktails and cuisine have created a cult like following for this trendy eatery. Try the rich man po' boy with lobster and foie.
Bottlefork is a stylish restaurant and cocktail bar that serves the best of both worlds. Featuring an American menu and a bold cocktail list, you really can't go wrong with any selection - but here is a tip: For starters, try the delicious deviled eggs - popular for their yolk mixture - before opting for the smoked lambs. In terms of cocktails, don't miss Bottlefork's original cocktails, including the Little Miss Dynamite, which consists of Starlite Vodka and vanilla. The decor is trendy and warm, so bring your friends and coworkers for a hip dining experience.
Address: 441 North Clark Street, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 955 1900
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am-11pm
River Roast - find
Photo by fifikins   under license
Resized and filter applied

River Roast

Experience a dining tradition centered around the whole roast entree, served with sides and wine on Chicago's most coveted riverfront patio.
Rustic yet refined best describes the culinary style and ambiance at River Roast. This restaurant, on the Chicago River, features a contemporary take on traditional American roast dishes by an award-winning team of chefs. Share a board of Foie & Duck Terrine and Fire Roasted Shrimp with their Farmer’s Market Punch, specialty cocktails or beer. For the main course, Big Fish, Roast Beef or Whole Chicken and sides are roasted to perfection, artistically plated and carved by your table. For one of the best outdoor dining experiences in the Windy City, when the weather permits, head out to their patio for breathtaking views of the skyline.
Address: 315 North Lasalle Street, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 822 0100
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM,Friday from 11:30 AM to 11:00 PM,Saturday from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM,Sunday from 11:00 AM to 09:00 PM
Naha - find
Photo by jonknee   under license
Resized and filter applied


This Mediterranean venue reinvents its menu often to keep their offerings fresh and exciting.
This contemporary and cozy venue offers an ever-changing menu that is complimented by a superb wine list and excellent selection of desserts. Dishes like the golden white fish caviar with hard-cooked quail egg keep locals and visitors alike coming back for more.
Address: 500 N. Clark St., Chicago, 60654, us
Phone: + 1 312 321 6242

The Gage

This gastro pub offers an amazing and creative menu.
This tavern serves sophisticated American cuisine in a cozy and casual setting. Visitors can enjoy traditional tavern fair like Scotch Eggs, or they can sample unique takes on traditional dishes, like the venison burger, which is sure to delight.
Address: 24 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 60603, us
Phone: + 1 312 372 4243


Sunda's menu is filled with an incredible amount of dishes dedicated to many parts of Asia.
Sunda offers a unique menu packed with traditional dishes that hail from all over the Asian continent. Visitors will find creative cocktails, sushi, and noodles in a variety of curry sauces and soups.
Address: 110 W. Illinois St., Chicago, 60654, US
Phone: + 1 312 644 0500
Belly Shack - find
Photo by   under license
Resized and filter applied

Belly Shack

This rustic-industrial venue offers some of the most unusual fusion cuisine that will satisfy any palette.
Tucked in beneath the blue line train, this urban space offers delicious fusion cuisine. The menu has dishes with a Latin influence and Korean and Asian fusion.
Address: 1912 N. Western Ave., Chicago, 60647, US
Phone: + 1 773 252 1414