Beautiful, central location bordering the Chicago River
Recently redecorated rooms have a subdued contemporary look
In-room features include Heavenly Beds, flat-screen TVs, and minibars
Top-ranking sushi restaurant and waterfront bar on site
Meeting/event spaces range from tiny "Tangents" to a grand ballroom
Big, bright fitness center with up-to-date equipment
Loaner New Balance sneakers and workout clothes for a fee
Executive lounge with free breakfasts and afternoon hors d'oeuvres
Kid-friendly features such as kids' menus and babyproofed rooms
Services include room service, in-room spa treatments, and laundry
Lacks a unique ambiance
No pool on the premises
Free Wi-Fi only for Club-level guests or SPG members
The 424-room Westin Chicago River North -- a modern property right on the water -- may lack individual character, but it does have a few things that take it a step beyond your typical upscale chain hotel, including handsome contemporary rooms, spectacular river views, and a popular on-site restaurant (Kamehachi, a Chicago staple specializing in Japanese fare). There are sleek function facilities, too, as well as a spacious gym which gets lots of natural light from its floor-to-ceiling windows and a seasonal patio bar overlooking the river. If you like brand names yet prefer a more historic setting, the four-pearl Palmer House Hilton makes a memorable alternative.
Suitable for large events with massive but somewhat impersonal spaces
Housed in a contemporary tower, this waterfront Westin is a popular pick for both business and leisure travelers. The well-polished lobby is elegant but underwhelming, and its proportions hint at the number of large events that are hosted here (not surprisingly, the hotel has its own wedding specialist and meeting planners). The 8,400-square foot ballroom -- an impressively vast venue with plush carpeting and posh wood paneling -- further underscores the fact that this is no intimate boutique hotel. Yet the presence of two main-level eateries, Kamehachi (a long-time local favorite) and the graffiti-covered 320 RiverBar (a casual summertime spot that encourages al fresco lingering) helps keep it from feeling too impersonal.
On the river, offering beautiful views and proximity to multiple attractions
Located just north of The Loop, Chicago's thriving downtown, and west of Michigan Avenue, this area is an attractive one for a mixed bag of travelers -- plus the hotel's waterfront location means that it's just steps from scenic walking, running, and biking paths. As for the rest of River North, art galleries, restaurants, nightclubs, and upscale retail shops thrive. Visitors of all kinds meander around the neighborhood during the day, while young partiers fill the streets at night. Some of Chicago's best restaurants share space with antiques stores and high-end boutiques, but there are also scores of cheaper options for tighter budgets and a lot of gorgeous historic architecture.
Four-minute walk to the Theater District
Six-minute walk to Merchandise Mart L Station
10-minute walk to Wrigley Building
15-minute walk to Michigan Avenue
15-minute walk to the Art Institute of Chicago
11 minutes to The Loop business district by public transport
14 minutes to Millennium Park by public transport
16 minutes to John Hancock Observatory by public transport
16 minutes to Grant Park by public transport
18 minutes to Navy Pier by public transport
46 minutes to Chicago O'Hare International Airport by public transport (25 by car)
Attractive, understated rooms that have been redone in 2015
Redecorated in 2015, all of the spacious rooms here share a common contemporary decor. Done up in neutral shades enlivened by jolts of charcoal and chocolate, they boast sleek dark-wood furnishings, with tweedy settees and signature Heavenly Beds lending an extra level of comfort. Sepia-tone photos of old Chicago add a local element, while glitzy accessories, such as sculptural Lucite lamps and stylish mirrors, bring a bit of bling to the otherwise manly setting. In terms of equipment, all have air-conditioning, well-stocked minibars, coffeemakers with Starbucks products, large flat-screen TVs, and digital music players. Big windows are also standard, and their drapes sometimes pull back to reveal stunning river views. Modern marble bathrooms feature shower/tub combos (or, in the case of suites, walk-in showers and tubs) plus plenty of appreciated counter space.
Upper-category rooms come with bonus features: Executive Club rooms offer extra amenities such as free in-room Wi-Fi (other guests pay a fee unless they are SPG members with a direct booking). Another Executive perk is access to a private lounge, where free continental breakfasts and free afternoon hors d'oeuvres are served. Suites, meanwhile, provide added square footage, separate living areas and enhanced views.
A renowned Japanese eatery tops the list of upscale features.
Kamehachi -- an airy zen-like restaurant that arguably offers the city’s best sushi -- is one of the major draws here. The waterfront 320 RiverBar is another: Opened in 2016, it’s a comfy-cool, graffiti-adorned patio that serves light bites and libations in summer. Happily, overindulgences can be balanced by exercise in the on-site fitness studio, which provides up-to-date equipment (cardio machines, for example, come with built-in TVs and, in some instances, iPod docks), a whirlpool, plus free weekday access to a personal trainer. For those that forgot their workout gear at home, the hotel provides New Balance shoes, and apparel can also be rented for a small fee.
Because business travelers make up a large percentage of the clientele, this Westin property offers assorted meeting rooms and event spaces (among them a ballroom that is rightly called "grand"). Families, however, are made to feel at home as well thanks to perks like on-request babyproofing, loaner gear and health-oriented kids' menus. Other features include a round-the-clock reception desk; laundry service; 24-hour room service; in-room spa service; a dedicated executive lounge for Club-floor guests (with free breakfast and afternoon snacks); valet parking; free daily newspapers; and free Wi-Fi in the lobby.
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