Dining at Mon Ami Gabi is a happy excuse to pass through the Belden-Stratford lobby. This grand old apartment hotel, built in the Beaux-Arts style, is situated on Lincoln Park West, right near the zoo and conservatory, and gives onto the glorious gardens that distinguish this street. Stars like Louis Armstrong and Gloria Swanson used to stay at this hotel back in the day.
The thing is, the Belden-Stratford still is a residential hotel. Yes, it’s full of apartments (like the kind Nick and Nora Charles occupy in The Thin Man) that people rent. I once dated a guy who was born in this building; his parents lived here for many decades. In this age of condos, only a few fancy apartment buildings still operate on this basis, but the few that I know of are real gems like this.