PHOTO: View from a LondonHouse Chicago Vista King Suite. (photo by Scott Laird)
Sometimes a great hotel is best described as a collection of little pleasures. LondonHouse Chicago fits that description perfectly. It’s a relatively new property in a great location right on the Chicago River in Chicago’s vibrant Loop District, in a historical building with a varied past.
That’s the first small pleasure, at least for history buffs like me. The beaux arts building started life in 1923 as an office tower for an insurance company (London Guarantee & Accident Insurance). The name lived on during the midcentury in the form of The London House, a ground floor supper club. In 2016, the building was redeveloped into LondonHouse Chicago under the Curio—A Collection by Hilton umbrella. Part of the development included the construction of a 22 story glass tower addition that sort of anchors the hotel’s classic-meets-modern aesthetic.
Another small pleasure is the fabulous views many of the hotel's rooms and suites offer of the Chicago River and some of the Second City’s most iconic skyscrapers.
It was almost difficult to leave the room because the window-side chair seems to demand one sit and watch the world float by sipping Nespresso from the in-room machine while listening to Jazz Age hits on the throwback Tivoli model clock radio (although the modern innovation of Bluetooth is integrated).
A somewhat larger, more impressive pleasure is how the hotel’s design manages to effortlessly combine classic and contemporary touches. Elevators are of modern construction with touch screens that request guests enter the floor they’re going to, and then tell them which numbered elevator they’ve been assigned. When the elevator arrives, however, the signage and light that dings the door open is straight out of the ‘20s.
LH on 21, the bar and restaurant, has a nightclub-y atmosphere with a contemporary playlist, but the nod to yesteryear comes in the form of beveled glassware reminiscent of a crystal chandelier. And the beer cheese soup with grilled cheese croutons and cubes of floating smoked bratwurst was like a warm blanket of Midwestern comfort.
During warmer seasons, there’s a modern open-air rooftop and the building’s historic cupola, which is available for private dining.
Luxury lovers will certainly find their home here. Breakfast omelets can be dressed up with king crab or osetra caviar, while coffee lovers will appreciate a bespoke house blend from Sparrow, a local roaster. All-day dining is spiced up with luxury-meets-comfort food items like lobster roll, fried Wisconsin cheese curds, malted potato chips, truffle fries, or Cheez-Its topped with caviar and crème fraîche.
Back in the guest room, ultra modern little pleasures like Malin+Goetz bath amenities make for sublime showers (the Peppermint Shampoo, Cilantro Conditioner, and Rum Body Wash definitely got nicked).
The Takeaway: Chicago itself is a city firmly rooted in its own distinctive heritage while maintaining its places as a dynamic, artistically cutting edge urban center, and LondonHouse Chicago is almost a mirror reflection of that most pleasing of paradoxes.
Good To Know: One of the best things about hotels in the Loop is that they’re never far from an elevated (called the “L” with great affection, locally) train station. The closest to the LondonHouse is at State & Lake.
Rates From: I’ve seen them from around $109 during the winter off-peak season.
Instagrammable Moment: Any of the hotel’s little touches are worth a shot, but the views of the skyline and Chicago River from the rooftop or the Vista Suites veritably scream “Windy City Iconography.”
Loyalty Affiliation: Hilton Honors
Accommodations were furnished by LondonHouse Chicago in preparation for this story.