Overview: The LondonHouse opened in May and overlooks the Chicago River from the famous corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. The 22-story historic landmark, formerly built as the London Guarantee and Accident Building in 1923, emerged from a dramatic three-year reconstruction project that saw the addition of a glass and steel annex next door, juxtaposing the original structure’s classic beaux arts style with the ultra-modernist annex, creating a 452-room hotel belonging to Hilton’s hip new Curio Collection. The exterior is absolutely stunning.
The Location: The worst thing about the hotel’s prime downtown location is that it sits directly across the river from Trump Tower, so you can’t look out the windows without seeing Donald Trump’s name ostentatiously blazoned across the side of the building. No other tower in Chicago has such obnoxious ego-driven signage, and it’s a blight on the skyline. That’s a shame because the tower is otherwise a truly beautiful feat of modern architecture. The good news is that the hotel is located just above the Chicago Riverwalk, overlooking a spectacular cityscape worthy of Marvel Comics imagination. Shopping is close by in any direction. It’s an easy walk to the Art Institute, and the train/subway stops are just a block away.
Room: Vista King, 1109. The “vista” rooms are the ones in the newly constructed annex with floor-to-ceiling windows, and with a view like this you’ll definitely want to stay in this wing. (I believe the rooms are otherwise the same.) The bed is absurdly soft, British-style. It’s like sleeping on a trampoline with really great linens. The room is otherwise beautifully appointed with all the necessary modern-day USB plugs, Nespresso machine, super-soft bathrobes and slippers, fluffy towels and dimmable lighting.
Food/drink: The hotel’s “flagship” restaurant on the first floor hasn’t yet opened. In fact, they are still searching for a tenant to operate the restaurant. Meanwhile, the lobby bar on the second floor is a comfortable place to hang out, if not necessarily a great place to eat. The top-floor bar and lounge serves as the restaurant’s all-day restaurant, but it’s really just a bar/nightclub with a kitchen. The drinks are good, but the food I sampled here on the night of my arrival inspired me to eat to eat elsewhere for the remainder of my stay. That said, a visit to the rooftop deck is a must for the skyline views.
Noteworthy perks: The gym includes two spin-quality exercise bikes.
WiFi: Free and fast throughout the hotel.
Public spaces: The lobby on the second floor offers spectacular views of the city, but the best views are from the rooftop deck.
Service: Service at the door and front desk was superb. Service in the lobby lounge was nonexistent, sadly. After checking out, we sat in the lobby for 25 minutes waiting for a bartender or waiter to show up, but nobody ever came, so we gathered our bags and went elsewhere for a drink.
Cost: $260/night, taxes included.
Bottom line: LondonHouse is a beautiful hotel with a coveted downtown address on the Riverwalk. But the beds are way too soft for my tastes, but that’s just me; I know a lot of people who prefer ultra-soft beds like these. The biggest bummer is the F&B, which is seriously lacking for now. Fortunately, Chicago is one of the greatest restaurant cities in America, so there’s no shortage of good options a short walk or quick Uber ride away.
85 East Wacker Drive (at North Michigan Avenue