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STAYCATION REVIEW LondonHouse Chicago, fabulous-but with a caveat
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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LondonHouse Chicago ( 81 E. Upper Wacker Dr.; ), part of Hilton's Curio Collection, is advertised as a luxury riverfront hotel. Windy City Times lets you know if this is a great staycation/vacation spot.

—Location: The location couldn't be better. It's on Michigan Avenue ( at the corner of Wacker Drive ), and is just steps from shopping and the Chicago River ( providing some stunning views ), and is near attractions such as Navy Pier and Grant Park ( and its many events ). Regarding public transportation, buses are also right there, and it's not that far from the CTA train system. Rideshare drivers tend to get a little lost getting there, however. ( I had to cancel a recent request because the driver was going in circles a few blocks away. )

—Feel/atmosphere: Combining vista and historical towers seamlessly, LondonHouse has an upscale, yet approachable, vibe. ( Truth be told, the hotel knew I was coming, so everyone addressed me as "Mr. Davis," which made me feel as famous as Jay-Z ( or Beyonce )—although I quickly discovered I embrace anonymity much more than celebrity. ) The lobby, with Bridges bar, is absolutely stunning ( as are the various light fixtures throughout the hotel )—and, by the way, there is a $100 check-in fee.

Elevators use a system that assign a specific car to use for the floor you are going to. It may take a little getting used to, but it makes for a more efficient system.

Rooms ( starting at approximately $220/night ) are incredibly spacious, with that upscale Art Deco feel. The studio suite in which I stayed also featured a frosted-glass restroom door that rolled, a shower that a friend of mine said could accommodate five people, and even dental and shave kits ( which I honestly wish more rooms had ).

The views are simply gorgeous—but here's where the caveat referred to in the headline comes in play. While one can see sweeping views of the river and downtown, there's also the unmistakable ( and unmissable ) Trump Tower. Politically charged visitors may find it hard to cope with that view. When I asked Director of Sales and Marketing Don Barnett how the hotel deals with questions about the tower, he said, "We [jokingly] tell people, 'We are going to build a wall around our hotel—and have [Trump] pay for it."

Also, just take a walk around the hotel and appreciate how gorgeous it is.

—Amenities: The workout room, is pretty large, and definitely has enough equipment to provide a thorough workout.

Regarding food, LondonHouse has plenty to offer. Having previously dined at the wonderful LH on 21 ( see review at ), my friend and I sampled the more casual cuisine at Land & Lake Kitchen. I didn't think I was that hungry, but I mowed through the rather generous bowl of pulled-pork mac & cheese with no problem; among the many other dishes are deviled eggs ( with curry, pickled relish and salmon caviar ), a grilled-cheese sandwich with Wisconsin cheese curds, and garden pesto pasta. ( The only slight annoyance was that the restaurant was out of a couple items I requested—including the chocolate brownie. )

In addition, LondonHouse has some incredible meeting spaces that accommodate everything from large crowds to more intimate spaces. And if you get a chance to check out the 21st-floor space known as Etoile, please do.

—Bottom line: LondonHouse Chicago is a lovely place, with friendly employees ( having seen how they interacted with other guests ), a prime location and much more to offer. While I don't see LondonHouse as a luxury hotel in the realm of the Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons, it seems pretty close.

Note: This hotel visit was based on an arranged invitation.

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