A Head-Scratcher: LondonHouse Chicago Highlights and Lowlights

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LondonHouse Chicago Highlights

LondonHouse Chicago Highlights

I followed up my delightful Ritz-Carlton Chicago stay with a quick overnight at LondonHouse a few weeks ago.  A part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, the LondonHouse hadn’t been on my radar until I started trip planning earlier in the year.  The building has an eclectic past.  Previously holding a jazz club then a Burger King, it became a hotel in 2016.  Here are a few LondonHouse Chicago highlights from my recent stay.

A Superb Location

LondonHouse is situated in the Chicago Loop neighborhood and sits close to the intersection of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue.  The property is just south of the Chicago river and convenient to the Chicago Architecture Center and related tours.  Shoppers are a quick stroll away just north to the Magnificent Mile.  Millennium Park and the Art Institute are just a few block south.  The reliable cliche “you’re in the middle of it all” fits in perfectly here.

LondonHouse Chicago Highlights

Exceptional Views

The hotel offers marvelous perspectives throughout.  My upgraded suite offered excellent views of the Chicago river amidst distinctive architecture.  But anyone staying, or just stopping in for a drink or bite, can access the stunning views.  In addition to many rooms, the hotel’s lobby and rooftop bar offer everyone a bit of the action.  Architecture (and Wilco fans) will enjoy a generous view of the Marina City towers.  Slightly east is the historic, terra cotta-covered Wrigley Building.  The list goes on.  Whether in my room, the lobby, or rooftop bar, I couldn’t get enough of the views.

Jekkyl and Hyde Dining Options

The LondonHouse rooftop area holds an indoor restaurant and outdoor bar, known as LH on 21 and 22.  The outdoor bar occasionally offers dining but didn’t during my stay.  A friend and I had dinner in the restaurant and stepped out to the bar after.  The views from the rooftop bar are as excellent as the food is terrible in the restaurant.  I had a bland, burnt burger which I just finished on principle.  Of course the food turned out this way.  The bar and restaurant are destination locations, so perhaps there’s no urgency for the food to be anything special.

LondonHouse Chicago Highlights
Land & Lake Kitchen.

On the flip side, I absolutely loved Land & Lake Kitchen on the ground level.  The outlet advertises itself as a Midwestern “mom and pop” restaurant, and that feel came through with a homey, unpretentious setting.  My steak (medium) and eggs (over medium) came out perfectly and hit the spot.  The restaurant was buzzing – tables all packed together and occupied, waiters carefully passing each other with hot plates.  I caught myself not minding, perhaps even enjoying, the crowd.  Seventies classic rock played and brought even more character to the joint.  I almost forgot the terrible dinner the night before.

Solid Service, with One Glaring Mistake

I arrived at the hotel just before 11 am for check-in (or to at least drop my bag), and the helpful front desk agent was able to secure my room immediately.  Even better, she provided an upgrade to a Vista One Bedroom Suite based on my Diamond status.  Waitstaff at all dining outlets were competent and attentive.  But a billing “mistake” showed up after my stay.  I was charged $3 for a bottled water supposedly free for elite members.  At best, it was a clear oversight, and at worst, it was a sneaky money grab.  I resolved it over the phone, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

A Few “Um, Okay” Moments

During my trip planning, I noticed that LondonHouse is ranked as the top hotel in Chicago on TripAdvisor.  Sure, the outstanding views and location are part of that.  But perhaps the unwelcome, pushy solicitation for TripAdvisor reviews I was subject to plays a role, as well.  At check-in and checkout, each agent asked me to rate the property and shoved over a TripAdvisor.  People giving out handbills on the Vegas Strip have better timing.

At any rate, I accepted the hotel junk mail before knowing what happened.  I know this tactic isn’t unique, but it’s definitely off-putting.  In my view, this low-rent appeal for a review degrades the property.

And let’s not forget the now infamous Hilton elite food and beverage credit.  This benefit continues to deliver the wacky, and LondonHouse would like to join the chat.  At check-in, I was required to select which location I would use the credit.  The credit is only redeemable at the lobby bar and Land & Lake.  The rooftop restaurant and bar isn’t an option.  Oh, and the credit could only be used at Land & Lake until 11 am, even though it’s open all day.  But the credit could be used at the bar anytime.  Regardless, I had to decide on the location at check-in.  Geez.

LondonHouse Chicago Highlights
View from the rooftop bar.

Conclusion

As you can probably tell from my LondonHouse Chicago highlights, this stay had all of it – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Regardless, the views and location are enough for me, and probably others, to come back.  Perhaps LondonHouse knows this, and it’s just enough to keep their hotel packed and profitable.  And while the rooftop gets a lot of the attention, I enjoyed the comfy competence and quality of Land & Lake on the ground level.  While the property swings from highs to lows, I enjoyed the ride, and I probably will again.  What’s your take on the LondonHouse Chicago?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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2 COMMENTS

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, this might be one of the worst examples of the “new and improved” Diamond credit. I bet this would drive a man to drink! Well, at least with Mark it would 😉
    Solid Wilco shout-out too 🙂

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