Please, Check-In is back! It’s important for me to give you the best travel has to offer. Whether that’s in travel stories, guides, food features, and local interviews, the goal is to dig deep into the world of travel to inspire you. Today we are continuing our conversations with hotel founders because like you, we seek more than just a bed to sleep in when we travel. Meet Kimberly and Shawn, the founders (and husband and wife duo!) of a luxury Bed & Breakfast in one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods. I had the pleasure of working with them and checking out the property a few weeks ago. This Bed & Breakfast is a gem and definitely not what we are used to seeing when it comes B&B’s. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did – check out our Instagram stories for a video version of this interview.
What is your role at Publishing House?
Kimberly – I think if you own a B&B the term is Innkeeper.
Shawn – Owner, Innkeeper, maintenance man, cook, books, etc. etc.
Were you in the hotel business before? If not, what did you do?
K – Neither of us had any hotel experience before we decided to open a B&B. We worked in restaurant/bar hospitality (Shawn briefly and me for 15yrs). When I lived in Melbourne I had a small vintage furniture store which I closed to move back to the States. Just before we found the building I helped open Soho House Chicago working as a front desk agent for the hotel portion. I felt one of us needed to understand guest expectations for hotel stays. Both of us love to travel but it’s always interesting being on the other side of the desk.
Shawn – I always worked in banking and finance, and when we moved to Chicago from Australia in early 2014 I had the opportunity to pursue a different career path which I jumped at straight away.
What inspired you to open a bed and breakfast?
K – Airbnb was our inspiration for wanting to run a B&B. In Melbourne, we lived in a warehouse conversion in a neighborhood similar to the West Loop and hosted people in our guest bedroom. Meeting people from all over the world and within Australia was fantastic, we had lots of guests stay a few times. We decided that creating spaces for people to enjoy and interact in was really rewarding and we wanted more of that in our daily lives.
Describe Publishing House in three words.
K – Delicious, Contemporary, Cozy
Shawn – Whimsical, Unique and Inspirational
How are you impacting the travel industry with your bed and breakfast?
K – The term “B&B” has a reputation of “feeling like grandmas house” or a country getaway, however, that’s not what we are. We are truly a contemporary urban dwelling in the city that still has the warmth of a home. People generally do not realize that ‘we live here,’ but we do and every morning cook breakfast and interact with our guests. I think the familiarity of seeing the same 5 people during a stay is great. Our guests are not faceless and either our we, definitely a first name kinda place.
Shawn – What she said! We want to elevate the B&B experience by giving people a boutique hotel type experience but with the familiarity of a small B&B property.
How is the travel industry changing in Chicago?
K – I think travelers are seeking a more “boutique” experience and are less interested in the corporate aspect of larger hotels. Also, Airbnb has changed the face of the accommodation and broaden the market to a younger generation of traveler. Interestingly enough Airbnb is kinda a sore spot amongst the B&B community, however, I find it helps us. It puts the term B&B out there for a different generation of traveler who wouldn’t have considered a B&B as an option. One of our main markets is the corporate traveler who spends lots of time in hotels. We have so many repeat guests who love our space and constantly tell us how refreshing staying here after the hotel grind. Plus we make breakfast!!
What makes Chicago such a special place?
K – Chicago is this amazing city that often gets overlooked to the European/Overseas traveler. It has so much to offer with arts/theater, music, food, and museums. Plus it is right on this beautiful lake and is very affordable compared to other places and super friendly. It’s always felt like home to me.
Shawn – The people are amazing here, a combination of Midwestern hospitality and friendliness and big city bravado, outward-looking liberalism.
What kind of experience and memory of Chicago are you hoping your guests leave with?
K – The goal is to have our guests leave feeling that they got the best of what we have to offer. Not just a bed to sleep in but a real experience by locals, with great recommendations and delicious breakfast.
Shawn – We want out guests to feel as though they found their best life, a new home, a place they dream of visiting again.
What is next for The Publishing House?
K – Not entirely sure, just enjoying the ride for now.
Shawn – This is it! For now…
Photography By: Jaclyn Simpson