The James Chicago

55 E. Ontario St., Chicago, Illinois, 60611, USA, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Fodor's Choice

Why We Like It

For a stylish boutique-y hotel at this price point, and in a part of Chicago convenient to not only tourist attractions and museums but also trending bars and eateries, this is perfect. That it's pet- and kid-friendly, too, makes it comfy and non-pretentious. Rooms are spacious and the on-site amenities--fitness center, spa and bar/restaurant--carefully thought out, keeping style in mind.

Alt-rock plays on the iPod-ready stereo system when you enter your spacious, contemporary accommodations at this Mag Mile hotel, and full-size bottles of vodka, whiskey, and rum are on hand. The slate-tile and marble bathrooms feature amenities from Harmonic by Intelligent Nutrients. The James Kitchen + Bar and the Spa by Asha are both on-site.

This place isn't so trendy that kids aren't welcome. The 'Lil' James' amenity gifts tiny travelers with milk and cookies at turndown, plus a stash of kid-friendly DVDs, board games and books, plus Nintendo Wii and child-size bicycles and helmuts, to enjoy during their stay. Kid menus at the restaurant mean you don't have to leave the hotel.


Techie-oriented rooms allow you to stream personal devices onto the HD Smart TV and there are tons of USB ports and outlets that help you work from bed. A custom mobile app makes communicating with the hotel (in-room dining or housekeeping) during your stay a breeze. Pets receive a welcome amenity (including a bed) from hip Shinola, a Detroit-based bicycle and leather-goods manufacturer. Eco-friendly pillows available upon request.

YOU SHOULD KNOW A $14.95 daily facility fee might make some guests pause even though it includes a $10 daily credit to The James Kitchen + Bar or in-room dining.


The Appelles' apothecary-minded and Aussie-designed toiletries are a fun perk and the all-white baths have a style accent in the wooden ladder holding fresh towels.


Rotating art is in abundance at this hotel, including the lobby. Guests tap away on their laptops or chat in small groups at communal-style wood tables. A fireplace keeps the spot cozy come winter.


At The Spa by Asha you can receive facials, massages and more. All treatments fold in a complimentary aromatherapy foot bath, perfect for tired feet after walking the city streets.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Booking a spa appointment on the weekend incurs a $10 surcharge.


Although open 24/7, working out indoors is not for everyone so thankfully the hotel offers more than its 2,500-square-foot fitness center, featuring an individual TV on each of the 10 machines. It also lends out PUBLIC bikes for adults and Paul Frank bikes for kids at no extra charge.

Too tired to trek to the gym? The hotel's new Four Bodies Wellness in-room TV programming lets you work out in the room under the guidance of fitness experts.


David Burke's Prime Steakhouse shuttered in 2017, replaced with The James Kitchen + Bar, a more casual but just as delicious dining option. The meat-heavy, all-day menu culls from regional farms for selections like lamb meatballs, roasted chicken and a house-roasted turkey club. Breakfast includes omelets, pancakes and waffles, plus five smoothies and juices.


Specialty cocktails are the main draw at the hotel's sole bar (part of The James Kitchen + Bar) while beers skew local, showcasing the rise of craft breweries in Chicago over the last five years.

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Getting Around

A car would be a hindrance, not an aid, at this hotel unless you plan to park it during the duration of your stay. And with a $65 daily valet parking fee, that can quickly add up. The 147 bus running up and down North Michigan Avenue can get you to the Art Institute of Chicago in minutes while the free Navy Pier trolley picks up two blocks from the hotel on State and Grand.


Eataly Chicago (2-minute walk) is an Italian-foods emporium with grab-and-go options as well as a handful of restaurants serving everything from wood-fired pizza to expensive meat-cuts. The Purple Pig's (4-minute walk) charcuterie and cheese plates, plus antipasti menu and "a la plancha" sections haven't fallen out of style since the place's 2009 opening.


Three Dots and a Dash's (10-minute walk) Tiki vibe extends to the cocktails. See Chicago from a bird's-eye view at Dana Hotel's rooftop 26th-floor Apogee lounge (4-minute walk). There's even astroturf carpeting, sectional sofas and a fire pit in the bar's outdoor section.




Phones: 312-337–1000;888-526–3778