Experience Chicago: The Wit Hotel Downtown
The night I arrived to the brand new but already renowned hotel The Wit, I had allowed the city stress of Chicago, plus my insane decision to drive there, to get on my nerves. Much to my relief, I was welcomed by a swath of lively valets and escorted into the bustling…“Wait, this is a hotel lobby?” I thought, as we entered a jam-packed city hot spot. The guests seemed they were enjoying a night out on the town rather than staying at a swanky hotel.
This hotel, in its dynamic downtown location, actually is a new part of Chicago’s nightlife. A jam packed restaurant peeked out from one of the corners and I was given VIP passes to avoid lengthy lines at the hotel’s most popular rooftop bar. However, the best part of all was the room prices, which were surprisingly low for the windy city’s typically sky-high hotel rates.
The Wit, a Doubletree hotel, which opened recently in May 2009 stands for “whatever it takes” or implies “wittiness”, if you ask the clever and funny yet endearingly helpful hotel staff. Simple touches in the hotels décor are witty as well, including the use of local artwork to embellish the walls. One painting in particular shows escalators rising from a flood of water with the Chicago cityscape in the background.
State & Lake was the bustling restaurant I had seen in the corner when I first entered the lobby. It’s accessible both through the hotel and a separate door for those not lucky enough to be staying there. Besides boasting a fully stocked bar, it serves up “gastro-pub” American food like Beet & Bleu Cheese salad with a side of Parmesan Fries or Sweet Potato Hash. Since The Wit was built at the corner of State & Lake streets, which are less than a block from the Chicago Theater, the restaurant revives the old Chicago saying, “Let’s meet at State & Lake.”
State & Lake is only one small part of The Wit’s deliberate placement and architecture. Female architect and designer Jackie Koo actually hung cameras from a helicopter to determine where the most scenic window views should be placed. With such passion for her architecture, one could definitely say she designed The Wit around the city. In fact, every single room has a full window with a great view. The hotel is 35% more eco-friendly than one of similar size and luxury. While it may not necessarily be an eco-oasis, it is designed smartly enough to be a 21st century urban oasis.
The hotel also features restaurant CiboMatto, which means “crazy food” in Italian. The eatery is adorned with a massive, rotating wine rack that holds about 2,700 bottles of wine. Offering a mix of modern and traditional Italian food, it can double as a meeting place for business guests. The Rooftop bar serves small plates and inventive drinks, with balconies and an enclosed area for those rainy nights.
The Wit is as instrumental for Chicagoans as it is an escape for tourists. The Screen, a private luxury movie theatre, can be rented out for group viewings or presentations. There are beautiful ballrooms, seven-thousand square feet of cityscape-lined meeting rooms, and plenty of bars & restaurants open to the public. The Wit understands the daily Chicago scene, as it epitomizes the hustle and bustle of Illinois’ most chic and stylish city.
Though room rates are extremely reasonable for their caliber, The Wit is not recommended for the dollar-conscious traveler or for families with kids. Most amenities like Wi-Fi, breakfast, and parking come at an additional cost. With a buzz of social activity and three restaurants located inside the hotel, it may be difficult not to partake in a nice dinner or a few drinks. However, coupons do provide the temptation to indulge in creative, eco-friendly spa treatments like a Fruit Pulp and Spice Purifying Facial or a Mango a Go Go Exfoliating Body Wrap.
Small details at The Wit accumulate to deliver an entirely cosmopolitan experience. Lighting along the walls near the gym and spa area is a bright purplish pink, giving the area a modern yet not hyper-feminine vibe. Mornings are filled with sounds of the wild, as sweet songs of birds chirping seep through speakers lining the hallways. Surprisingly, this tranquil music is a rejuvenating contrast to the hotel’s ultra trendy night scene. In place of chocolate for a turn-down pillow, guests are presented with cute and useful things like a Rubik’s cube keychain and a chip clip with The Wit’s logo.
I completely fell for the wittiness of The Wit. I was especially taken by the view from the suite’s enormous windows. The city seemed so crazy, intimidating and stressful from ground level, but from the comfort of my room, I felt relief and awe as the hotel hovered over the bustling metropolis. Whether I was in bed, in the kitchenette or in the ingeniously triangular Kohler spa soaking bathtub, I could watch the intriguing city below.
My Luxury Spa King Two Room Suite was luxurious with its touch screen phones and mini-bar with sensors, environmentally friendly with its climate control system and water saving features, and stylish with its contemporary design and quirky little details. Room rates for the Luxury Spa King Two Room Suite start at $309.
Photo Credit: 2009 Wayne Cable selfmadephoto.com