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“Fab Time @ The James”

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The James Chicago-Magnificent Mile
Ranked #47 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 18, 2008

Stayed on business. Was upgraded to a loft suite. Hotel was beautifully appointed, superbly located and dead sexy. Room was completely over the top with second "media bed" (large projection screen tv, dvd player, surround sound...bow chicka bow wow), great bath amenities, wet bar, etc etc. Also loved the lobby bar scene & food and service @ check in.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled on business
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1  Thank CorporateHotelier
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,059 - 3,065 of 3,395 reviews

Reviewed November 14, 2008

I believe I can not describe how amazing was our stay at The James. Service was impecable, from the door man to the front desk. Location could not be better. Yes, you can hear the ambulances in the street from the 14th floor, but, come on, you are downtown, what do you expect....Overall noise was not in a level to bother us.
The only minor incident was a cleaner that tried to open our room to clean at 9 pm...PM not AM? Go figure...

  • Stayed: November 2008
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Thank minimini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 10, 2008

Great beds, great baths, great service overall, great location. Avoid top floor rooms because of noise from the air conditioning units. Regulating room temperature can get a little challenging. Spa is mediocre and overpriced. Concierge was wrong on lyric opera times, so we were 1/2 hour late. Parking is expensive.

Stayed: November 2008
Thank Timoan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 10, 2008

—I booked a room at the James for my husband's birthday last weekend. Firstly, David Burke's Primehouse is one of Chicago's top 10 best steakhouses, and is located in the James. This is a draw if you want to eat at a top-notch, top dollar steakhouse right in your hotel. But if you don't, there are plenty of really great restaurants literally right out the door, and within a 2 block radius.
—The hotel lobby has a contemporary, sleek decor that certainly appeals to anyone with an artistic eye and who appreciates the combination of nature and modern design in their aesthetic. I love the birch, or maybe aspen, trees throughout the lobby, as well as the energized, fun, upbeat feel. It appeals to young and old(er).
—The bar is also in the lobby, or rather at one end of the lobby - and this is the only downfall of this entire place. We've had drinks here twice, both times in November, when the Chicago wind suddenly becomes frigid. The bar is cold. There are doors on both sides that are opening (even being held open by doormen) while patrons arrive and depart, each time allowing a *blast* of cold air to hit anyone sitting in the low comfy couches and chairs. It was really poor planning. It's a bar you'd like to hang out in - just has the misfortune of being placed in what feels very much like a mere extension of the busy lobby, and like you are part of any weather system currently hitting Chicago.
—On to the rooms - they are fabulous. Ours was a queen studio, great couch and chair choices, large mirrors and a very urban loft type feel. Yet, everything is smart. It's all practical and purposeful while having a clean look and comfortable feel. I felt immediately like 'this is my apartment.' And speaking of comfort - the bed was divine. Linens and coverings, all white, all fluffy and comfy and ready to make you not want to get out of bed in the morning. I say, don't! There is a coffee maker in the room, but free good coffee in the lobby, free papers, and once back upstairs, a flatscreen TV by the bed. (Of course there is always room service, breakfast from Burke's. I do suggest a luxurious morning in.) Our studio also had a larger flat screen in the living area, two big closets, a large bathroom (again, appointed the way you wish yours were at home) a sidebar piece with small bar sink, several premium bottles of spirits, including a wine key, and a great little sound system. And they pack all this into a tiny space, while still making it feel both spacious and cozy. (And quiet, even right by the elevator.) Well done, James!
—The only minor downer about the room for me was the bathtub. Again, looks fabulous with long, chocolate tiles surrounding it and a cloth shower curtain. Now, most people avoid taking an actual bath in a hotel. However, sometimes it's necessary. I happened to need a soak when we were visiting, and it was the most uncomfortable I've ever been lying down. No place to rest my head without my chin jammed into my chest. No little ledge, nothing. Could The James provide at *least* a bath pillow? That would have helped tremendously. I know most of you will, but, stick to a shower.
—The location of this hotel is perfect. Shopping and great restaurants are *literally* paces from the front doors. And by that I mean across the street and on the same block - and with in a mere 2 block range you could be fed and clothed for life.
—If you're trying to decide where to stay in Chicago - I highly recommend the James. (My last name is James, but no relation! The hotel is named for James Dean.) And the place is not just for young hipsters, though you will encounter many cool young staff members - good energy, very helpful folks.
If you stay at The James, I hope you're experience is as fun as ours was. :)
ps - David Burke's Primehouse is amazingly good. Be ready to drop some coin, but wow! And it was recently listed high in the top 20 best steakhouses in the city in Chicago magazine. (I have other restaurant rec's in the vicinity if you're looking.)

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank RJames32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 4, 2008

We stayed in The James for a week, and it was the best week ever...
The James has a perfect location, a super friendly and helpful staff, a beautiful modern design, nice plasma TV ;), and is clean, secure and comfortable.
On top of that you are close to the best places to eat and close to the best places to shop….. it is perfect!

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with family
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Thank Bea25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 3, 2008

My stay at The James in Chicago over the weekend was pretty good. I remember when this building housed the Lennox House hotel, so the makeover was pretty impressive. The look is minimal and hip. Contemporary art, especially photography, is displayed throughout the building.

Check-in was simple. I arrived early but this was not a problem. I asked for two beds instead of one, and this request also was accommodated. The front desk person asked me if I’d like a higher or lower floor. I picked higher and was assigned t a room on the 15th floor.

The rooms have already been described here – very white with minimal furnishings: two beds, a table between the beds, a long bench in front of the window that contained two drawers, a dresser-like piece with the mini-bar items and tow more drawers, and a small nook with a padded seat plus a small table. The bathroom has a very small entry room containing a closet-like cabinet with shelves, hangers, and a safe. The bathroom was nicely done with grey tiles on the floor and white fixtures.

As others had mentioned, there was an odd smell in the nook. This smell (reminiscent of dirty feet) probably came from the upholstered seat – either the padding or the covering. This musty smell pretty much stayed in the small nook and did not permeate the room. Housekeeping’s attempt to spray for the smell only temporarily alleviated the problem.

Some of my observations:

PROS:
- The beds were incredibly comfortable. I thought Westin had great beds, but the mattress, sheeting, and pillows were maybe the best I’ve encountered in a hotel.
- After looking around, I realized there was a lot of storage space in the room.
- Kiehl products in the bathroom were great – their Amino Acid shampoo is one of my favorites and I now have a 2.2 oz bottle to refill for future travels.
- The selection of newspapers for guests was good. USA today was delivered on Monday morning. No paper was delivered on Sunday morning but the New York Times and Chicago Tribune were available for guests (gratis) at the front desk. The Wall Street Journal joins these newspapers on other days.
- Having 3 computers in the lobby area (two Windows and one Mac) for guests meant I never had to wait for a computer when I wanted one. I also brought my laptop and had no trouble accessing the free Wi-Fi from my hotel room. Kudos for the free Wi-Fi.
- In addition to the sheeting, the towels were top notch. So were the bath robes.
- Great workout room.
- Each hotel employee I encountered was cheerful and friendly. When I contacted maintenance, they came up within minutes. They fixed a very slow drain in the bathtub so that it drained easily my second day.
- The location was great. Across the street is a Starbucks, Trader Joes, and a good restaurant called Farmerie 58. After a good lunch, we returned for an even better dinner the next evening. Didn’t try room service or the in-house restaurant.

CONS:
- For a hotel that classifies itself as 5 stars, the room seemed a bit worn. The cylindrical light fixture on the floor by the window was obviously stained and dented. One of the three pictures above one bed was missing and the hanging hardware was still in the wall. The alarm clock had a nice feature to project the time on the ceiling, but that feature didn’t work properly (only half the display was visible even after setting the focus). To lock the safe, I had to push hard on the door.
- The cookies that were left at turndown were not very good. (Did I really just complain about cookies?)
- Lighting was hit and miss. The lights above the bed could be adjusted for reading, but there were not individual controls for each bed so both had to be set at the same level. The bathroom proper had good lighting but the small entryway with the closet fixture did not. Why did they put up a full length mirror and then not provide any lighting in the dressing area?
- The outside noise wasn’t a problem until 3 am on the last night. The garbage was picked up and this was a noisy event. Being on the 15th floor, I didn’t expect that to be so annoying. Those staying on lower floors must have been even more annoyed.
- Although there was plenty of hot water for a shower, the sink produced only warm water.
- Speaking of the sink, I didn’t like the shallowness which was not conducive to complete draining.

Other than the noise from the garbage trucks, none of these complaints were major. However, there were just a few too many of them for a self-proclaimed 5 star property.

I would stay at The James again if the price were right, but normally the price doesn’t look right for this property. If I could stay at the Park Hyatt or Trump International for about the same price, I’d pick either of the other two hotels. I find The James to be similar to the Affinia – The James has better service but the Affinia has newer and better rooms for what is often a lower price.

  • Stayed: November 2008
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Thank Bippie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 31, 2008

First, there were problems getting an accurate rate for our room. The issue required a manager's involvement.

When we did check it--to an upgraded suite--I have to admit I was disappointed. The walls are paper thin (I could hear a regular conversation in the next room). I asked to be moved to another room as soon as I checked in, because I suspected that the noise would get to me. We could hear conversations in the hall as well. The desk service was inconsistent--sometimes incredibly hospitable and genuine; at other times, abrupt and almost rude. The decor is underwhelming. The "minimalist" aesthetic is impractical in some respects (there's no bedside table on one side of the bed, leaving me to put my water and eyeglasses on the headboard). The bathrooms (of the suites, at least) were a good size.

The concierge misled me about the time it would take to reach the hotel from an airport shuttle (he said that the James is usually the second stop for the shuttle, when in fact it was the last).

I don't think that the hotel warrants the spendy prices it charges. If my room had been about $60 less, I would be less apt to complain, but for this rate, one expects impeccable service and a luxurious room. The James let us down.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled on business
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Thank Dr1975
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The James Chicago-Magnificent Mile

Address: 55 East Ontario, Corner of Rush and Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611-2727
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Illinois > Chicago
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#14 Romantic Hotel in Chicago
#16 Spa Hotel in Chicago
#26 Business Hotel in Chicago
#31 Luxury Hotel in Chicago
#33 Family Hotel in Chicago
Price Range: $147 - $372 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — The James Chicago-Magnificent Mile 4.5*
Number of rooms: 297
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An urban hub on the Magnificent Mile and one of Chicago's most celebrated boutique hotels, The James Chicago-Magnificent Mile is a sophisticated nod to Windy City culture. It continues to garner buzz and accolades through its casually sophisticated blend of warmly modern design, intuitive service and thoughtful touches. Enjoy convenience at your fingertips with The James Hotels Mobile App and in-room tablet powered by KEYPR offering a seamless way to discover our amenities and services. Experience The James as a culinary destination with signature restaurant, Primehouse and the Primehouse Bar - a perfect spot to enjoy weekly happy hour specials or a full meal. Also featured at The James is The Gym, open 24-hours, The Spa by ASHA, 7,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, as well as rotating artwork from local, national and international artists. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
James Chicago Hotel Chicago
James Hotel Chicago
Chicago James Hotel

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