REVIEW – British Airways : Updated Club World Service – London to New York JFK (B747 Upper Deck)January 3, 2018
REVIEW – American Airlines Flagship Lounge, Chicago – ORD T3January 9, 2018
The James Chicago
- Rate: £98.75 per night
- Room Type: Loft Suite
- Complimentary upgrade from standard Double Room
There is quite a lot of choice at the high end, for hotels in Chicago. Having run price comparisons on both Kayak and Trivago I made a simple choice: the best looking hotel with an entry level room under £100 a night and a central location.
I wasn’t interested in upgrades because I’d only be spending a few hours in the room. Free breakfast wasn’t a huge concern as I wasn’t convinced I was actually going to be hungry after eating: Breakfast aboard Club Europe, second breakfast in the Concorde Room, the new Do&Co catering for lunch on LHR-JFK, snacks in the JFK Flagship Lounge and Admiral’s Club, followed by a multi-course *** Michelin tasting for dinner – at Alinea!
Upgrades and breakfast are two of the main draws of hotel loyalty programs and without them I was unshackled, free to see how an independent operator does things.
In a lot of ways The James’ marketing reminded me of Kimpton hotels: free wine, free coffee and baked goods, cool interior design, a lively bar and a laid back atmosphere. I was really looking forward to seeing if this hotel could deliver!
We arrived at the hotel at around 11:30pm, delirious with tiredness after a day that had begun 25.5 hours earlier at 5am Prague Time ?
I wasn’t sure whether I was hallucinating or not when I saw this sign stuck to the door:
We all know that Chicago has a history of violence but I must admit that seeing this sign was slightly surreal.
Thankfully, the inside of the hotel was a lot more welcoming and reminded me a lot of an Andaz.
Thankfully the check-in process was super quick and my friend and I were handed our keys in under a minute. My room was located on the 8th floor.
Unfortunately there was no Nespresso machine but I actually find the Starbucks Via sachets to be considerably stronger and better tasting than the usual watery swill that American in-room coffee makers produce. Back when I lived in New York, Starbucks were running a promo to introduce Via and every shop was giving away one free sachet per customer, that came with a voucher for a free coffee. My record was 16 of them in one day.
I literally never paid for a coffee until the day I left the US and drank nothing but Via when I went hiking in the Rockies and then aboard the train from Denver to San Francisco!
I was worried that I would wake up super early but the bed was so comfortable that I slept right through to 7:40am despite having spent the previous night in the Prague Airport Hotel, seven time zones away. Extra kudos for providing five pillows too. My ideal sleeping position requires at least three but if I can get an extra couple to use as chocks to wedge myself in place, that’s even better. (NB: pillow forts are also an option)
I was actually a little sad to leave here after such a brief stay. Apparently the gym is absolutely spectacular but we were so pressed for time that we didn’t get a chance to check it out. A huge snowstorm had hit London overnight and we needed to get to the airport ASAP to sort a new route home.
My room was big and comfortable enough that I could easily spend a week there without feeling boxed in. I can imagine that when the winter really starts to bite, it is great having a cozy area in your room where you can kick back, relax and watch movies all evening.
The decor was cool and modern, the free coffee downstairs was also very much appreciated and the location… well we didn’t do much exploring but there seemed to be plenty of shops and restaurants nearby.
When I next return to Chicago I’d have to get a pretty amazing deal to consider staying anywhere else!
- Part 1:
- Qantas : First and Business Class Lounge – London Heathrow T3
- Part 2:
- British Airways : Updated Club World Service – London to New York JFK (B747 Upper Deck)
- Part 3:
- The James Chicago : Loft Suite
- Part 4:
- American Airlines Flagship Lounge, Chicago – ORD T3
- Part 5:
- The British Airways Boston Lounge – BOS Terminal E