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Waheeda Harris

Contributing writer

Waheeda Harris is a freelance journalist who writes about travel, design, culture, cuisine, style and the people who are passionate about what they create.

Walking the streets of Chicago, there’s an endless array of architecture icons like the sleek Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), the neo-Gothic Tribune Building and the 60s-style Marina City. Three and a half years ago, the Streeterville neighborhood in the city’s Loop welcomed a new modernist skyscraper, Loews Chicago.

This 400-room modern hotel is found within the first 14 floors of the 52-story Loews Tower, built by Chicago architecture firm Solomon Coldwell Buenz. With a wide variety of amenities for guests, Loews Chicago may be grand in scale, but it offers personalized and thoughtful hospitality.

STREET CRED: IT’S ALL ABOUT LOCATION

Located steps from the Chicago River (and the Chicago Riverwalk), this high-rise hotel is five minutes from the entertainment lures of Navy Pier, 10 minutes from the luxe shopping on the city’s Magnificent Mile and a 15-minute walk from Millennium Park with its Insta-worthy Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor (aka the Chicago Bean) and the venerable Art Institute of Chicago.

WHO HANGS HERE: IS THIS HOTEL FOR YOU?

Business travelers will appreciate the proximity to downtown neighborhoods as well as co-working spaces for meetings, while leisure travelers, whether families, friends or couples, will benefit from the numerous arts and culture options nearby including live theater or a river cruise tour with the Chicago Architecture Center.

Photo courtesy of Loews Chicago Hotel

THE STRAIGHT GOODS: WHAT’S IN THE ROOM?

With a mirror and a long shelf at the room’s entry, this is just one of the many details that make the room feel like home. The room’s palette is earthy neutrals—white and gray textiles, dark wood storage, gray upholstered chairs, warm caramel wood tones for doors and headboard and floor-to-ceiling windows with sheer curtains and a blackout screen.

Photo courtesy of Loews Chicago Hotel

A spacious bathroom is tucked behind a sliding wood door and decorated in shades of white and gray tile; within there is a toilet, sink area with side-lit mirror, large shower stall and Julien Farel bath amenities. A separate sideboard offers storage for additional toiletry or makeup bags, while a pile of fluffy white towels are stored within easy reach below. The closet includes an iron, ironing board and the classic gray and white Loews cozy bathrobe.

The king bed is dressed simply in white linens and oversized pillows, with a small patterned accent pillow in pale gray. Either side of the bed features a bedside light as well as a movable reading light, digital clock and an electrical outlet with multiple USB ports. Above the headboard is an iron sculpture reminiscent of steel used in skyscrapers, while the opposite wall features a bold abstract painting.

An immense flatscreen television sits atop a bureau with spacious drawers, and a desk offers a place to work or plan the next day’s activities. The adjustable leather and chrome office chair on wheels, the chrome and felt guest chair and the curved TV chair with matching ottoman, side table and oversized floor lamp make for stylish and comfortable seating.

Photo courtesy of Loews Chicago Hotel

BRAGGING RIGHTS: WHAT ELSE HAS IT GOT?

The 24-hour fitness center is on the third floor (to avoid guilt after eating Chicago’s deep-dish pizza) and features cardio and weight machines and a 75-foot indoor pool. Another benefit is the luxury spa, open daily to offer massage, facial treatments and nail services.

Inspired by the architectural styles of Mies van der Rohe and Louis Sullivan, the hotel lobby offers many nods to their styles, like the two-story open space with floor-to-ceiling windows and the decorative ceiling flourish and fireplace surround made from railway ties.

The lobby also includes art inspired by the city: a wood sculpture of the city skyline by Ben Butler, mid-century lobby furniture made from wool, leather, felt, cashmere and mohair (a nod to the textiles needed to survive a Chicago winter) and elevator interiors that feature Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago” poem etched on the glass walls, the inspiration for the hotel’s design. The second-floor hallways have urban art displayed while meeting rooms feature architectural prints on vintage phone book pages and collages of Chicago museums.

Photo courtesy of Loews Chicago Hotel

GOOD EATS: COCKTAILS & CUISINE

The ETA Restaurant + Bar is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a warm space of wood furniture and contemporary lighting. The bar offers regional craft beer and an innovative list of cocktails including the Maple Leaf (Canadian Club, grapefruit, rosemary maple syrup) or the Brown Line (Bulleit Bourbon, demerara sugar, angostura and orange bitters).

Featuring ingredients sourced from Illinois farms, the seasonal menu includes hearty options like short ribs, lamb or pork chops, roasted carrots, Brussel sprouts or asparagus, decadent truffle mac ‘n cheese and, perfect for sharing, cured meat and cheese boards. Healthy options to start the day include berry parfait with yogurt and fresh berries, egg white frittata or the cauliflower hash with veggie sausage and poached eggs.

Photo courtesy of Loews Chicago Hotel

During warmer months, guests can access Streeterville Social, the outdoor patio and bar on the third floor, but nothing beats happy hour at The Bellhop Bar. This lobby-located seasonal pop-up is a bar-in-a-box concept. Within a retrofitted steamer trunk, bartenders offer cocktails made from Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Hangar One Vodka or vintages from Buena Vista Winery and Conundrum Wine. One of the cocktails on offer, the Co-HOP Honey Old Fashioned cocktail, was inspired by the Loews Hotel Flavor program. At Loews Chicago, the three flavors inspiring chefs and mixologists are Chicago Honey Co-op, Here cold pressed juices (part of ETA’s breakfast menu) and Revolution Brewing craft beer.

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS: WHAT STOOD OUT?

Loews Chicago’s lobby was a welcome place to people-watch, especially during happy hour, when many guests relaxed on the oversized leather couches or in the curved armchairs, enjoying end of the work day drinks and conversation.

And for those guests who need tips, the concierge staff are a stand-out, offering insider information on Chicago’s dining, theater, art, sports and entertainment options.

PARTING SHOT: IF WE COULD CHANGE ONE THING

Happy to see the hotel uses paper straws and avoids single-use plastic straws; perhaps consider stopping the delivery of small bottles of water at turn down, especially when the tap water is drinkable.

A superior room with king bed starts at US$129.00 per night.

(Photos courtesy of Loews Chicago Hotel)

Waheeda was a guest of the hotel during her stay. The hotel had no editorial input for this review.

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