When JW Marriott Chicago opened in 2010 in the heart of Chicago’s Financial District following a $396 million facelift, architecture enthusiasts took note. Housed in a historic building by Daniel Burnham — the architect who famously designed structures for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 — the hotel spans the first 12 floors of the former Continental & Commercial National Bank Building. We checked in for this report.
What’s Hot: New as of 2015 is the 20,000-square-foot Spa at JW Chicago. It offers a number of alternately calming and invigorating amenities, including a pool, hammam (Turkish bath), boxed bento lunches, and fitness classes (including a new program led by Nike trainers). Its décor is a departure from most hotel spas and is done in shades of purple and platinum.
Best Feature: This handsome hotel is a visual feast. At every turn, there’s something that catches the eye — from the white-marble flooring in the lobby to the curved iron staircase that’s overhung with a crystal chandelier.
The Rooms: Decked out in chocolate-brown, gold, red, black, and houndstooth, the 581 rooms feel thoroughly cosmopolitan, and even the smallest rooms are a spacious 445 square feet. Other features include toiletries from Aromatherapy Associates and the ability to stream Netflix in your room — although you may have to pay $14.95 per night for WiFi. (This fee is waived if you book directly with the property.)
The Food: In the Lobby Lounge, you’ll find Illy coffee products and morning pastries under glass cloches. In the evening, choose from $5 cocktails, small plates, or healthier drinks called “Cocktails With A Purpose,” courtesy of a partnership with Tippling Bros. At The Florentine on the second floor, dishes include handmade pastas and antipasti to share. We recommend the Fregola (shrimp, mussels, cod, and calamari with chili flakes and tomato, $28) and the Capesante (pan-seared scallops in sunchoke puree with crunchy sunchoke chips, $17). With floating bookshelves and half-moon-shaped banquettes, it’s a cozy space to dine.
Who Will Love It: With its stellar spa facilities and on-site restaurant, the property would make for a great girlfriend getaway.
Who Will Not: While families are welcome, there aren’t many spots for kids to run amok; the hotel’s clientele is mostly sophisticated business travelers and culture-seeking adults.
Nearby: The location can’t be beat — it’s less than a 10-minute walk to Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and shopping on Michigan Avenue and State Street. A half-mile down the street is Lyric Opera, while Willis Tower is a four-minute walk.
Rates and Packages: A business-traveler-centric clientele means that weekends are the most affordable time to visit, with rates starting from $159-$179 this spring. Spring for the Spa at JW Chicago package — available through May 8 — and receive a $100 spa credit.
Getting There: Located directly in Chicago’s Central Loop, the hotel is just a few steps from the Quincy L-train station, which connects directly to Chicago Midway International Airport. To reach the hotel from O’Hare, you’ll need to switch trains at the Clark/Lake station. A taxi from either airport will cost $35-$40 before tip.