Friday, August 20, 2010

The James is a Great Choice in Chicago

I go into Chicago for events every few weeks.  It’s a bit far for me to drive back and forth the same day, especially since those events usually involve wine or liquor sampling!  I’ve stayed in a few Chicago hotels that I liked, but the latest one impressed me so much I am anxious to tell everyone about it.

I managed to sneak into the Windy City between my big trips for an overnight at The James. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. This hotel is  in a perfect location on East Ontario Street.  The James is situated within blocks of the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and some of Chicago’s best museums, and  it’s on a block with three important places – Trader Joe’s, Starbucks and home of my favorite deep dish pizza,  Pizzeria Due!

This hotel was remodeled and opened as The James Chicago in 2006. The strong detail to contemporary design and art reminded me very much of 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, and it turns out that Deborah Berke is the architect responsible for both.  The idea at The James, according to Marketing Manager Nicole Serr, is it’s all about “Luxury without tradition so it’s comfortable like home.”  The business center is in an open area (with an art gallery) and use is both complimentary and encouraged.  The boutique hotel treats its guests to extra amenities like complimentary pajamas and toys for kids,  a pet program so you don’t need to leave any of your best friends home, twice-daily maid service and free use of conference-room space.

Even the Guestrooms and Studios are spacious by Chicago standards, but there are also Lofts, One-Bedroom Apartments and Penthouse Lofts (that includes use of an Audi and a driver to go with it) available.  Rooms include free internet, flat screen televisions and IPod/MP3 docking stations.  The hotel prides itself on being Green and operate consistently with the environment in mind.

The James has a Asha SalonSpa that offers full spa services, all of which include (at no extra charge) an Aromatherapy Foot Bath and a Calming Neck Pillow Experience.  There’s also a full gym that was created by Danny Errico of Equinox Clubs and partners with Jim Karas to bring personally training to guests. Celebrities like Hugh Jackman have stayed at The James Chicago while training for a movie, but the training and room rates are still in the affordable range for non-celebrities (well, maybe not the Penthouse Suites).

As much as I liked The James Chicago Hotel, I loved the David Burke Primehouse Restaurant within it.  I brought along a friend to share in an incredible meal at this Chicago hotspot which is one of the few around that dry ages its own steak.  Absolutely everything prepared by Executive Chef Rick Gresh was delicious.  Below is the menu we had, perfectly paired by Sommelier Rachael Johnson Hussar.  Make sure you order the Cake in a Can when you sit down, though, because it takes 45 minutes to cook.

First Course
Quail with fava beans and black curran bbq
2009 Domaine de Figuierasse, Gris de Gris, Languedoc
2008 Elk Cove, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley

Second Course
Mixed Greens with cucumbers and feta cheese in a red wine vinaigrette
2009 Kung Fu Girl, Riesling, Washington

Third Course
N.Y. Sirloin, 21 day dry aged (me)
55 Day Ribeye, bone-in (my guest)
2004 D Cubed, Zinfadel, Napa

Cake in a Can
Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla ice cream
2007 Marenco, Brachetto de Aqui

Next time you are heading to Chicago, check out the rates and specials at The James.

Photos courtesy of The James Hotel and the David Burke Primehouse.


  1. it looks great, really modern and slick. I would be really happy if my work would put me up here when i go to Chicago on business!

  2. It is very business friendly too. They have a selection of computers in the business center.