Opened last September, the 316-room Langham, Chicago hotel favors an understated elegance fitting its landmark riverfront location. The hotel occupies the first 13 floors of the 52-story former IBM building, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe.
The empty plaza in front of the building and the ground floor lobby, with its white marble walls and minimalist, mid-century furniture, are reminders of the building’s corporate origins. While the entrance lacks warmth, a legion of friendly concierges whisk you to the check-in desk on the second floor.
Sitting along the Chicago River, the hotel is steps away from other architectural marvels like Marina City and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. The river walk features gardens, docks for boat cruises and a few outdoor restaurants. It’s a lovely passage to Michigan Avenue, where you can find the city’s high-end shopping, museums and Millennium Park along Lake Michigan. The hotel is within walking distance of several El stations.
Langham’s fourth property in the United States pays careful attention to service and design and manages to overcome the building’s corporate feel to provide an elegant, tasteful stay
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Our grand double room sported camel-colored décor with punches of mauve and black as well as two comfortable full beds, a desk, a sitting area, a flat-screen television and ample closet space. The ingenious feature was the minibar, re-imagined as an upright credenza. Upon my return to the room in the early evening, I found the staff had set a tea service on the table and tuned the radio to classical music.
The bathroom is a sanctuary, with two sinks set into Alaskan white granite, a bathtub and a rain-forest shower as well as an array of hair care products, soaps and lotions from the hotel’s Chuan Spa. The two fluffy, white terry cloth robes and slippers laid out for the evening were also a nice touch.
Inside the hotel’s health club is an aqua blue 67-foot swimming pool, with glittering lights above it and a view of the Chicago River, as well as a gym and a Jacuzzi. The changing rooms include saunas and a steam room. Adjacent to the pool is Chuan Spa with services like a 30-minute herbal salt scrub starting at $105 and a one-hour Swedish massage starting at $165.
At the hotel’s second-floor restaurant, Travelle, the American chef Tim Graham offers his takes on Mediterranean food, serving dishes like pomegranate braised lamb shank and boar ragu for dinner. The dining area and the gold-inflected bar ooze with a clubby, swinging ‘60s vibe.
Room service, prepared by Travelle, is available 24 hours.
▪ The Langham, Chicago: 330 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-923-9988; chicago.langhamhotels.com. Rates from $209 for a “grand room.”