As a fan of the architect Daniel Burnham, I loved having the chance to stay in another of his designed (and restored) buildings in the Windy City: the JW Marriott Chicago. Strategically located in the busy Financial District in Chicago’s Loop, the 21-story historic landmark–built in 1914–was once a bank .
Step inside and the impressive marble lobby with its sparkling chandeliers overhead and the two winding staircases on either side make it easy to imagine you’re back in the early 1900s. Suddenly the honking taxis and noisy traffic disappears. The New York Times wrote the “lobby is a destination itself,” and I couldn’t agree more. Added plus: free wi-fi in the lobby and public areas.
Before you get to the check-in desk, you’ll see the hotel’s Lobby Lounge–an expansive and comfortable setting with upholstered furniture set in various configurations. It’s a quietly refined vibe with a bar that serves coffee in the morning and cocktails and light fare in the evening.
Although this is a 21-story building, the hotel only occupies the first 12 floors. Office space is on the floors 13-20. Tenants use the separate three elevators installed to access their offices while the existing framing of the building’s original elevators now are used by hotel guests. These elevators are located behind the check-in desk, and perhaps that’s why they seemed surprisingly small to me—not really a problem unless you’re the type who travels with maidservants and several trunks. Check-in is swift and friendly. There’s a great concierge desk –offering helpful city recommendations (the hotel is near State Street and it’s easy walking to Millennium Park, Magnificent Mile and Chicago museums) but staff is also knowledgeable about the building’s hotel history.
There are 581 guest rooms including 29 suites and an executive level– plus numerous meeting venues and break-out rooms. Take a peek in the Burnham Ballroom and you can still see the grand domed ceiling that once graced the bank.
Because the hotel is in the heart of Chicago’s financial district, during the week the crowd (lots of dark suits, white shirts) is prevalent (it’s also why you might get better deals on weekends).
I could see why those on business would find the hotel attractive not only for its location; my room had tons of plugins (each side of the bed, more by the desk). I absolutely loved the headboard which was equipped with reading lights on each side. The room itself was a spacious blend of contemporary comfort and style. The only disappointment was the room charge for wi-fi : $14.95 daily in the rooms (and $19.95 if you wanted to video chat or stream video).
The bathroom was beautiful—with warm tones and plenty of plush towels, bathrobes, two sinks, a luxurious deep soaking tub plus a separate shower.
The hotel’s Spa at JW Chicago is a 20,000 square feet getaway. I actually feel the spa itself is reason enough to book a room—especially after I indulged in their “Aching Feet Massage”. After a day of pounding the pavement (shopping can be exhausting), I highly recommend it–although next time I wouldn’t mind trying their signature “Moroccan Oil Hydrating Hammam Experience”. Just reading about it on their website sounds divine. Unfortunately, it was already booked out the day I was there. (Setting up an appointment when you reserve your room is a good idea.) Besides the spa, there’s a fitness center and indoor pool.
The hotel’s restaurant is The Florentine, serving seasonal Italian cuisine (I didn’t have a chance to check it out); but the concierge is also happy to give you other restaurant recommendations in the city.
Room rates start out at $189. Valet parking is $68 a day.
Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long who was a guest of the hotel.