Opened in 2013 as the Hong Kong–based brand’s U.S. flagship property, the Langham, Chicago elegantly occupies the first 13 floors of the former IBM Plaza, a modern American landmark designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whose views of the city’s skyline nearly rival those along the famous architecture boat tour on the Chicago River. The iconic 52-story black cube may not be as tall or shiny as the Trump International Hotel & Tower across the street, but the hotel’s light-filled rooms, efficient staff, modern pan-Mediterranean restaurant, and location within walking distance of both the Loop and major sites suit both the business and leisure traveler. Many rooms have striking views of the river out the floor-to-ceiling windows; suites have reproductions of van der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona chairs and daybeds.
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Flanked by iconic buildings old and new, the hotel plaza has direct access to the River Walk, leading to restaurants and docks for several architecture boat tours. In addition to Michigan Avenue shopping, diverse entertainment lies within a two-block radius—including art house flicks at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State St.) and performances by national comedians and retro rock bands at the 1921 Chicago Theater (175 N. State St.). Next door, Smith & Wollensky (318 N. State St.) serves steak in a men’s club atmosphere with river views. In addition to eclectic evening dinner shows, House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn) stages a rollicking Sunday Gospel brunch.
Need to Know
Rooms: 316 rooms; from $349. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Chicago celebrity chef Tim Graham (Tru, Brasserie Joe) designed the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus for Travelle, the hotel’s contemporary Mediterranean restaurant; try the “flaming” Saganaki chicken wings, a twist on a Chicago Greek expatriate special. The elaborate Afternoon Tea service in the lobby’s Pavilion is popular with ladies who lunch. Spa and gym details:Chuan Spa combines traditional Chinese medicinal techniques such as acupuncture and cupping with modern treatments such as a Himalayan Salt stone sauna and light and sound bath in a sensory pod. The 2,260-square-foot gym offers classes and has a large, windowed workout space with Life Fitness and Elevation Series equipment and a 67-foot indoor pool.
Who’s it for: The hotel’s central location and efficiency appeal to both business and leisure travelers; meanwhile, a private movie theater and kids’ activities suite provide family diversions. Our favorite rooms: The best views look east to where the skyscraper-lined Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. Classic River Suites (ending with -02) have corner views and a full lake view unimpeded by the neighboring Trump Tower. Lounge with a view: During the summer, the 13th floor (officially floor 12C) Club Lounge is a great place to watch the Wednesday and Saturday night fireworks at Navy Pier.
THE LANGHAM CHICAGO: STAY IN PRETTY ELEGANCE
Whether you're having afternoon tea in the lovely lobby, dinner at Travelle or spending the night in Chicago's Langham Hotel, there's just something so...civilized ...and pretty...about it all. Maybe it's those proper London roots (Chicago's Langham is the fourth only to open in the USA outside of Europe). Or more likely (for me anyway,) it's those pink accents (the tea! pens, stationary, padded satin hangers in the rooms, not to mention the Champagne) and the handsome butlers, the lavender-scented special request pillows... It's such a girlfriend's getaway kind of place. Love its great downtown location too--especially because it's also really near P.O.S.H., one of the best little independent shops (artful vintage finds with lots of French accents) in Chicago.