The James opened its doors in 2007 in one of Chicago's coolest design conversions at the time (it was formerly the Lenox Suites). Design tastes may have since evolved past the hotel’s wood, slate, and marble minimalism, but the James has maintained its reputation for great concierge service and excellent meals at David Burke Steakhouse (which is equipped with its own salt cave for dry aging premium beef). The location is also tough to beat, two blocks from the Magnificent Mile, a safe, easy walk to the River North restaurant scene, and a short bus or cab ride to the architectural history lesson that is the towers, old and new, in the Loop and on both sides of the Chicago River.
The clientele mixes business travelers, foreign tourists, and families (who get a milk-and-cookie turndown service). Smart, complimentary amenities include bedside filtered water, Wi-Fi, and loaner bikes for adults and kids.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
The hotel is an easy walk to the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise architecture boat tour dock on the Chicago River and a five-minute bus ride to Millennium Park and the Chicago Art Institute. A block west at the corner of Wabash and Ontario, Pizzeria Due is the starting point for a Chicago deep-dish pizza survey. Amid River North’s high-end restaurant district, six blocks west of the hotel, celebrity chef Rick Bayless still draws lines for contemporary Mexican cuisine at Frontera Grill; new hot spot Brindille draws praise for Paris-inspired tasting menus.
Need to Know
Rooms: 297 all nonsmoking rooms; from $188. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 2 p.m. Dining options: Hotel breakfast is served at David Burke’s Prime House (one of the city’s best steakhouses at lunch and dinner), which also provides 24-hour room service, a kids' menu with Kobe corn dogs, and treats for pets. Burke’s Bacon Bar is a popular post-work gathering spot for locals and serves one of the city’s best bargains—a $12, fabulous, 44-day dry-aged beef hamburger (unavailable at the restaurant). Spa and gym details: The basement-level, 2,500-square-foot gym makes up for its lack of windows with custom design by Equinox Gym founder Danny Errico and workout routines choreographed by celebrity trainer Jim Karas. The ASHA-branded spa uses Aveda products; the menu includes a massage for “hyperactive, overachieving, or over scheduled kids.”
Who’s it for: Business and leisure travelers who appreciate the combination of well-designed rooms and proximity to some of Chicago’s most famous restaurants, as well as to the convenience of Starbucks and Trader Joe’s just across the street. Our favorite rooms: West-facing rooms on floor ten or above have city views unobstructed by surrounding buildings. Families with kids love the “loft” suite layout, which has a media/TV room with DVD projector and second king-size bed for snuggling and watching movies. Don't forget: If the popular David Burke restaurant is booked, guests can order the house special signature dry-aged steak from room service. Vegetarians may be disturbed (if not converted) by the smells of cooking steak permeating the lobby and gym. Yogis can book a free class at Lululemon in the Bloomingdales building at 900 N. Michigan.