I recently stayed 3 nights in the ultra swanky James Hotel. Located in Chicago’s premier shopping district, The Magnificent Mile, this hotel is the epitome of cool. Upon entering the hotel you are greeted with the sounds of jazzy deep house dance music. The decor and the ambiance of this hotel reads uber chic. At check in I’m given an environmentally friendly room key card made out of recycled cardboard. This is the first of many environmentally friendly features that this hotel has to offer. I do have to admit that I was not fully impress by the customer service that was given at check-in. The front desk attended was very dry and unwelcoming, he didn’t say much to me and did not explain how to get to the hotels hidden elevators. However I was determined not to let one persons dry attitude affect my over all view of the hotel.
Entering the Apartment Suite (room number 1108) my first reaction is to be turned off by how small the suite is. At only 650 square feet the Apartment Suite isn’t much larger that the standard rooms. However my disappointment is short lived after seeing the amazing view from the bedroom. The room looks straight out to Michigan Ave. and looks even better at night. As an amenity you will receive a plate of gourmet petit fours, cookies, a 350 ml bottle of wine and a personalized hand written welcome note. The room comes complete with a fully stocked bar. The bar has everything from vodka, pop, water, nuts and even a vibrator. Thats right. If you look hard enough you’ll find an adult pleasure kit hidden inside the bar.
In your room you can access free wifi if you bring your computer. Internet is also available through the rooms television for a charge. If your traveling for business and internet is a vital part of your stay be prepared to be frustrated as the hotels wifi is really slow. The few times that I did use my computer I found myself quickly giving up due to slow loading speeds. You can also rent tons of movies but at around $14.99 a pop, what’s the point? Go enjoy the city of Chicago and buy that movie for $9.99 when you get home. When you get to the hotel try channel 42 on the TV. Can someone tell me what’s that all about? Strange but funny.
My favorite feature of the room is the huge spa inspired bathroom. It was expertly designed as has plenty of storage space if needed for extended stays. The shower has two heads. One that allows for the overhead rain effect and another that is handheld but can also be prepped up as a regular shower head. The shower also has a small window that houses a spectacular view of the city.
There are many other areas of the hotel for you to enjoy. There’s the JBar that is open Wednesday through Saturday (I didn’t get to enjoy it because my stay was Sunday to Wednesday morning). However at night the hotel lobby becomes some sort of a bar in it’s own right. They serve drinks in the lobby and it seems the place to be after dusk. Inside the James Hotel you will also find a high tech gym with personal trainers available, a full service spa, and the well known David Burke's stake house (sorry that I can't tell you how the food was, I'm a vegetarian so I didn't bother).
Here are a few tips to make your trip even more enjoyable:
1. Although the in room bar looks great and is very tempting avoid the urge. At $3 for a can of coke and about $42 for a mini bottle of Grey Goose it’s not worth it. Directly across the street from the hotel is Trader Joe’s grocery store. Trader Joe’s is famous for their cheep wine shop and organic foods. If organic or wine isn’t your thing, less than a block and half way you’ll find a Jewel Osco for hard liquors and ready to eat foods.
2. Are you looking to spend a night out on the town? While the James Hotel is in a great location, there’s tons of shopping and restaurants nearby, but there are not a lot of bars or clubs. If you are looking for a great night out don’t worry. Just walking distance from the hotel you will find Chicago’s Red Line subway train. From there you can easily access the best bars and clubs the city has to offer. Take the red line to the North/Clyborn stop then take a easy walk to Weed Street there you will find a plethora of nightclubs. If your looking for Gay/Lesbian bars take the red line to the Belmont stop and you will be in Chicago’s GLBT neighborhood where you will find bars/nightclubs, lots of shopping and tons of late night restaurants.
3. Just a small heads up, this hotel charges you for your entire stay at check-in. This really isn’t a huge deal but what they don’t tell you is that they add an extra $100 per night for incidentals which you get credited back to you when you check out. I stayed three nights and payed with my debt card so imagine my surprise when and extra $300 was taken out of my checking account.
If you are planing a trip to Chicago I would highly recommend a stay at the James Hotel. It’s in a great location and has many services and amenities to please even the discerning of travelers.