May. 9th, 2013

The James Chicago: An Urban Hotel A Little On the Quirky Side

Photo Courtesy of The James Hotels
Modern and quirky sums up The James Hotel in downtown Chicago. So quirky that the television in our room was not a normal screen, but a projection onto a corner wall with a flat lean-back seat as wide as the bed in front of it. The 297-room hotel is contemporary with a retro touch in its décor, generously displaying the work of local and international artists, with particular emphasis given to photographs.
lobby the james chicago
Photo Credit: Columbia Hillen

The entire wall fronting the main elevator features an aerial night view of a city skyline. Nearby, a whole wall has been devoted to a photograph of a forest of Silver Birch trees. Beside it, several bare branches of the same tree lean out of a ceramic pot. Another wall simply depicted the lower half of a woman’s body in a gray skirt, her arms by her side. Smaller framed photographic works decorate the lobby walls in what the hotel management terms as ‘a rotating gallery.’
bedroom the james chicago
Photo Credit: Columbia Hillen

The hotel lobby is a long, narrow space fronting large windows with simple padded stools arranged opposite the windows, offering clear views onto East Ontario Street. Our loft was cleverly designed to maximize space with white sliding doors and central glass porthole separating the bathroom from the bedroom. Also included was a hanging silver-colored metal beaded chain designating the border between the bedroom and the living room.
media room the james chicago
Photo Credit: Columbia Hillen

The living room was minimally furnished without being stark – a sofa, coffee table and three televisions, including the projector in the media room, and one hanging from the ceiling in the bedroom. A simple full-length mirror leaned against one wall and the only decorative art pieces were two framed black and white photos of Lake Michigan and a line of miniature drawings of a nude woman in the corner room.
living room at the james chicago
Photo Credit: Columbia Hillen

The overall décor was a soft mix of neutrals — ivory walls, a light wood-topped bar and brown carpet underfoot, with two silver metal chairs beside a round table on a broad silver base reminiscent of the 70s. Additionally, the well-stocked room bar included half bottles of various liquors. Though located a block from Michigan Avenue, a set of floor-to-ceiling windows didn’t offer much of a view, merely onto an undistinguished backyard area — which, at least, allowed for an undisturbed night's sleep.
david burke's primehouse the james chicago
Photo Courtesy of The James Hotels

The James Chicago, one of three James properties in the U.S., is also home to David Burke's Primehouse and adjacent Primehouse Bar. Renovation work was going on to extend the bar area while we were there, so we decided to give it a miss. Two of the undoubted advantages of staying at The James (a pet-friendly establishment) is its prime location and friendly staff such as Front Desk Manager Beena Vaidyan, who helped with dinner arrangements with a warm smile.
the magnificent mile chicago
Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

Located a block from the iconic upscale shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile, it is also within walking distance of landmarks such as the Water Tower, the John Hancock Observatory, the Pumping Station, and the Wrigley Building. The Grand Red subway station is only four blocks away. An appealing hotel extra is the free car service within the business district, which is especially helpful as parking is quite expensive.
personal trainer jim karas james chicago
Photo Courtesy of The James Hotels

Book this hotel now with confidence! Personal Service. Best Rate Guarantee. 100% Luxury Hotels. Book Now! For those with more energy to spend after walking the city, the hotel’s 2,500-square-foot full-service fitness center is open 24/7 and celebrity fitness guru Jim Karas is ready to provide customized fitness programs. If you prefer yoga, representatives of Lululemon Athletica can be booked for one-hour sessions in your room or for programs over several days. Or you might just want to stop at Asha Spa for a selection of treatments.

With so much to do and so much to see in Chicago, we'll just have to return to The James for a second visit someday soon.
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