Thursday, May 24, 2007

SoHo in Chicago - James Hotel

The James Hotel is a newish boutique hotel in the Magnificent Mile area of Chicago. I'd been wanting to stay here the last couple trips and finally prices dropped below $500 a night so I booked my room with excitement.
From thier website you get a minimalist, modern feel. And to that end it does not disappoint.

Checking in around 7pm, the lobby was packed! Loud music (some sorta house-techno whatever the kids call it these days), lots of well dressed people drinking martinis and the like. Apparently the bar is in the lobby, I was too tired to really look for it. It basically was like the W in SF. The check-in process had a bit of attitude (again, just like the W) which really, I don't appreciate. I feel like, and especially in Chicago where customer service seems to be of really high standards, if you work in a hotel you should be hospitable and make people feel welcome. The man who greeted my cab was very nice, as was the one who got me a cab in the morning. The front desk staff, maybe young and inexperienced, but I didn't particularly care for them. I also feel like they should be knowlegable, particularly about the immediate area, when I asked if she could call and make me a reservation for dinner at Tru, she looked baffled. Really? It's one of Chicago's top restaurants, 3 blocks from the hotel and you don't know what I am talking about? Another issue I encountered was the disconnect about thier frequent guest program. Apparently, no one that works the front desk is aware the hotel is part of the Luxury Hotels of the World group, and would not accept my guest card number. They kept insisting they were an independant hotel. Yes, but you have an agreement with this group. "no, we are independant" I finally gave up. Eventually, I will send the hotel an email and request thier staff be made aware of this, I can't be the only person who books hotels based on perks I expect to get.

Onto my room. It's modern, and sleek, and comfy. But wow, is this the smallest bathroom I've ever seen! One step from the bathtub to the sink, and I have short legs. Pretty much you can shower and wash your hands at the same time.

They clearly are all about the textures here, the waffle weave robes are not the typical cotton waffle weaves you get, its a softer larger pattern. The red patent leather chair and ottoman, meant to give you that gloss and cool feeling when you sit on it, and it is comfortable! The built in sofa, soft comfortable fabric with a wool loop pillow that begs to be touched. The roman shades and closet curtain (no there is no door on the closet, and yes, it is very small) are a microfiber sueded tan. The bed, pillowtop, white, I suspect high threadcount Frette linens and enough pillows to make you sink in and get ready to watch your plasma tv. The warm chocolate carpet, is thicker than standard hotel carpet and feels good on your feet. But then you should really be wearing the bright red felt slippers provided for you in the closet.
The room also has a wetbar, did I mention that? Martini shaker, glasses, good sized bottles of alcohol. I didn't check the prices after I noted the bottle of sparkling water on the minibar was $9. The chocolate colored theme carries into the furnishings, a solid headboard for the platform bed, the minibar, and my favorite? The tile floors and walls of the bathroom.
One thing in the room that failed the tactile test, was the spare blanket in the closet. It was really rough wool. I was expecting a cashmere blend :)

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