Soho House was established in London in 1995 as a private members’ club for individuals working in the creative industries, and since then, several of its venues—including Soho House Chicago, which opened its doors last month in the city’s bustling West Loop neighborhood—have grown to offer hotel and restaurant accommodations for the public, as well.
The Soho House team has a knack for honoring the immediate surroundings of their properties—and in Chicago’s case, right down to the building, itself. The six-story warehouse upholds the same colossal stature it maintained during its days as The Chicago Belting Factory, even if some details have moved around a bit (e.g. wooden panels from a former rooftop water tower now line the ground floor elevator bank). Chicago as a whole is celebrated, as well: Art director Francesca Gavin collaborated with Chicago-based artists to curate a collection of 150 pieces that are displayed throughout the house.
Founder Nick Jones and design director Vicky Charles spearheaded the property’s design, a constant juxtaposition of rough and refined that reveals itself in every corner. Take, for example, the towering exposed-brick walls that offset the lobby’s lineup of six opulent, Paris-sourced chandeliers, or the velvet Chesterfield couches that sit beneath a sizeable graffiti display with orders just as sizeable: “Go Back To Your Room.” The contrast continues in the Cowshed Spa, where floor-to-ceiling reclaimed wood, meets chandeliers and leather armchairs, creating a shabby-chic environment.
Rates: Rates range from $300–$480 per night, not including taxes.
Rooms: The Chicago location takes full advantage of its cavernous structure, allowing for 40 guest rooms on the third and fourth floors. Rooms range in size and name from 200 (“Tiny”) to 600 square feet (“Medium Plus”), with two categories—“Small” and “Medium”—in between. Each room is equipped with a king-size bed, Egyptian cotton sheets, a rainforest shower, Cowshed toiletries, and ghd hairstyling tools. Medium Plus rooms also feature a claw-foot tub, dining room table, and multiple seating areas.
Color schemes vary by room but are unanimously bold, with palettes of crimson red and slate or turquoise blue and canary yellow. Each room is outfitted in its own hybrid of urban meets rural and modern meets retro, thanks to an equal emphasis on decadent and humble era-spanning elements, from mercury glass dressers and chandeliers, to wooden nightstands and rotary telephones. Still, the outdoors seems to take precedent, if only for olfactory purposes, alone: Each room and the hallway between them carries the heavy smell of a campfire—a ubiquitous reminder that the house is meant to, indeed, be an urban retreat.
Drinks & Dining: Hotel guests have access to the members-only club floor and rooftop, where two different menus are served throughout the day and offer wood-oven entrees, salads, and sandwiches. The property welcomes the public and hotel guests alike on the ground floor, where London-based Pizza East and Chicken Shop offer two distinct dining experiences: The modern-day pizzeria features locally-sourced charcuterie in a room outfitted with subway tile and dried goods, while across the lobby, rotisserie chicken is served in a retro-inspired space with white-and-green linoleum tile floors and antique ice boxes. The Allis Café connects the two venues and offers midday fixes including smoked salmon sandwiches to Tuscan kale salads. All spaces feature full bars with beer, wine, and craft cocktails.
Health & Fitness: It’s the upbeat personnel that first welcome guests and members to the second floor’s 1,500-square-foot gymnasium, followed by the space’s focal point: a professional boxing ring. Private boxing lessons add to the floor’s many services, which include personal training, fitness classes, and a drop-off laundry service. A post-workout retreat awaits four floors up on the rooftop, where a 60-foot pool is surrounded by a fleet of plush sunbathing beds, two fire pits, and plentiful seating for diners and the laptop-accompanied alike. Additional R&R can be found at the Cowshed Spa on the lower level, where massages, facials, waxing, and nail services incorporate the line’s all natural and organic products, which were made by and for Soho House.
Etc.: Hotel guests have access to all member amenities, including the 30-seat movie theater and a roster of daily rotating events, which range from paddleboarding field trips to improv classes led by Second City.
Pros: Exciting neighborhood; vibrant energy throughout the space; stunning rooftop; excellent for people watching; dedicated service; diverse and well executed food and beverage program.
Cons: Parking in the area can be difficult (overnight valet is $44); though the staff is familiar with the city, there is no official concierge; draws a young and hip crowd, which may not create an environment that appeals to every traveler.
Nicole Schnitzler is a freelance writer who covers travel, food, drink, lifestyle, and culture. When she is not planning her next adventure, she can be found exploring bakeries, record shops, and drink lists in her Brooklyn neighborhood. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Follow her on Twitter: @write_to_eat.