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TravelMidcentury elegance and a perfect location: The Langham, Chicago

Midcentury elegance and a perfect location: The Langham, Chicago

Sometimes unlikely marriages make for the most memorable hotels. Take the somber minimalism of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the timeless elegance of one of the world’s most venerable hotel brands and you get The Langham, Chicago, among the city’s more intriguing luxury properties.

Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, along the river, The Langham, Chicago occupies the lower 12 floors of Mies’ sleek, black aluminum curtain wall skyscraper, designed in 1968 and completed in 1972 as the corporate headquarters for IBM, which envisioned an imposing, muscular structure that would symbolize the company’s technological ingenuity. Two years after IBM vacated in 2011 and it was renamed AMA Plaza, the landmark building became home to Langham’s fourth U.S. property (shortly following The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue’s opening in 2010).

Steeped in history, it was The Langham, London that ushered in the era of grand hotels in 1865 and remains beloved for its classic European flair and grace. Even at newer outposts such as ultramodern The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi and The Langham, Hong Kong, guests can expect the same time-honored traditions such as afternoon tea and a “writer’s corner” in tribute to the novels penned at the original London property.

With flashy new builds slated for Tokyo; Venice, Italy; San Francisco; Seattle; and Saudi Arabia over the next few years, the relaunch of the brand’s Brilliant loyalty program, and innovative offerings such as the bespoke Sleep Matters by Chuan program, the Langham brand certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels.

Having first stayed at The Langham, Chicago shortly after its debut over a decade ago, I was curious to see how the property has evolved and where it now sits among the dozens of upscale brands and flashy luxury properties that vie for travelers’ reservations these days.

Here’s everything you need to know before booking a stay at The Langham, Chicago.

Getting there


Overlooking the Chicago River (which was dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day during my stay) and framed by iconic skyscrapers, the Langham has one of the best locations of any top-tier hotel in the city.

It’s right here, taking in the jaw-dropping Chicago skyline that has appeared in countless shows and movies, that you feel both the modern dynamism of the city and its compelling architectural history.

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A taxi or ride-hailing service from O’Hare International Airport (ORD) will cost you between $40 and $50, and the ride generally takes around 45 minutes. However, the 18-mile journey can take up to 90 minutes, depending on the traffic.

If you are traveling light, you could take the Blue Line L train ($2.50) all the way (around 50 minutes). You’ll possibly change terminals at the airport (the station is on the lower concourse of terminals one, two and three) and then need to walk around 10 minutes from the Washington stop.

From Midway International Airport (MDW), it will also take around 45 minutes in a taxi (around $40-$50). You could feasibly take the Orange Line L train ($2.50) to the State/Lake stop, and then it’s just a five-minute walk and a total transit time of around 50 minutes.

Related: How to get from O’Hare International Airport to downtown Chicago


Entry-level, 516-square-foot Deluxe rooms at The Langham, Chicago start at $363 per night, but rates can climb dramatically to over $600 per night. Even rooms in this lowest accommodation category are beautifully appointed with midcentury modern-inspired furnishings, deep soaking tubs, and perks like complimentary Wi-Fi and Nespresso coffee makers.

The next category, Deluxe Premier, is distinguished from Deluxe solely by the cityscapes or river views guests can enjoy, with rates starting at $516 per night. Executive Club rooms include access to The Langham Club Lounge (more details on that below), which is especially appealing for business travelers looking for a comfortable workspace with superb views (from the 12th floor) and all-day refreshments, including a breakfast buffet, afternoon tea, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and top-shelf liquor selections (from $519 in an Executive Club room on the 11th or 12th floor).

Related: The 17 best Chicago hotels

Junior suites start at $674 per night and provide extra living space (a total of 720 square feet) and come with a sleeper sofa, while 1,230-square-foot One Bedroom Lakeview suites (from $1,164 per night) feature a huge separate living area with a dedicated workspace, a dining table, a separate powder room, and wraparound windows with incredible city and river views.


If you are a member of Langham’s reimagined Brilliant loyalty program, you’ll save around $10 on the daily room rate and accrue points and privileges for future stays.

The Langham, Chicago also participates in American Express’ Fine Hotels + Resorts, so cardmembers with The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express who make a booking through Amex Travel will receive benefits like complimentary daily breakfast for two, room upgrades based on availability, a $100 on-property credit to use during their stay and guaranteed late checkout.

Outstanding features

  • Surrounded by iconic architecture and within striking distance of the city’s most popular attractions, the location couldn’t be better.
  • Thanks to dazzling, art-filled spaces and thoughtful architectural details, you’ll feel immersed in Chicago’s rich history.
  • Resort-style amenities, including a large swimming pool and an exceptional spa, make it a relaxing retreat for families and wellness seekers.
  • A wonderful club lounge, which is equally geared to families as business travelers.
  • Spacious rooms marry midcentury modern vibes with a polished, European aesthetic.
  • Sprawling suites are more within financial reach than at comparable luxury properties in the city.


  • Rates can climb to over $600 for an entry-level room, so it’s not going to be for everyone.
  • With the lobby on the second floor, you don’t have the immediate sense of walk-in grandeur and transition from the city outside you get at some luxury lodgings.
  • Genuine style and elegance stem from all the exquisite artistic details and subtle allusions to the building’s history, rather than more showy or flamboyant statement pieces — which may not fulfill every traveler’s idea of luxury.
  • The swimming pool can get busy on the weekend.

The vibe


Enter beneath the gilded marquee on North Wabash Avenue, and all the cool rationality that defines Mies’ “less is more” aesthetic gives way to an elegant reception space that stays true to both the building’s history and the artful sophistication and warm hospitality of the Langham brand.

Designed by Mies’ grandson (Dirk Lohan, who also worked on the IBM building), the glass-walled reception area bears all the classic Miesian hallmarks, like slabs of travertine covering the walls, polished granite floors and a glistening pink mosaic ceiling which complements vignettes of creamy white midcentury modern chairs and sofas.


Art and design lovers will be in heaven here. Wherever you wander, there’s a work of art (140 pieces in total in the public areas), a unique item of furniture or an architectural detail, each with a story, an homage or a subtle allusion to the Bauhaus movement.

In the reception area alone, there’s a gorgeous desk (where Uber Eats orders are now sacrilegiously placed) originally designed for Mies’ Farnsworth House; a metal “beaded” curtain shimmers down the 26-foot-tall floor-to-ceiling windows, a nod to Mies’ iconic Seagram Building; and an alabaster sculpture of an elongated head by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa (who also designed Crown Fountain at Millennium Park).


Step out of the elevators into the jewel-box lobby on the second floor, designed by Richmond International and shimmering with luxe materials, fabrics and reflective glasswork. Above a mirrored mezzanine ribbon, hand-blown glass “pebbles” are suspended from soaring ceilings, transitioning along a gradient from earthy to aquamarine hues to create a thematic visual flow east toward the lakefront. The effortlessly glam monochromatic color palette and polished patterned marble floors will be familiar to guests of the London property.

The room


The Langham’s 316 rooms and suites start at 516 square feet and are richly styled with midcentury-inspired art and furnishings. The building’s iconic design, with high ceilings and huge windows intended to bring the outside in, radiates light and space. But more than anything, it creates a sensation of being truly immersed in the city.

On the eighth floor, at the end of a grand corridor lined with walnut veneer panels, my One Bedroom Lakeview Suite was a stunning contrast to the building’s sleek, imposing exterior. The entire space abounded with curved flowing lines, handcrafted furniture, gilt accents and lavish marble finishes.

Off the main entryway, there was a separate powder room, and a large, elegant seating area with a velvet purple sofa, two armchairs and a glass coffee table. A handcrafted wooden desk with sweeping views east to the lakefront made checking emails and remote work no chore, while, in front of the window, a large flat-screen TV on top of a white lacquered cabinet was upstaged by panoramas of the Loop’s skyscrapers.

There was a dining table with four chairs, convenient for room service dining or an impromptu work meeting. Shiny silver canisters of nuts, candy and chocolate, as well as top-shelf liquor selections, were all discreetly housed in a white custom chest, which also contained a minibar, Nespresso coffee maker and a supply of polished glassware.

In the separate bedroom, everything from the bedside tables with inlaid marble tops to the burnished hardwood floors and supremely comfortable king bed, accented with a regal purple bed skirt and throw, felt opulent without a hint of stuffiness.

Everything in the suite was thoughtfully designed, easy to operate and just made sense. A Mies-inspired chaise was staged to take in the city and river vistas. At each doorway, there were well-labeled lighting consoles as well as controls for both blackout drapes and sheer curtains in the bedroom. The desk overlooking the river was adjacent to a large panel with nearly every conceivable outlet, input and cable adapter.

The oversized spa-style bathroom was a sybarite’s dream with a massive tub, a glass-walled walk-in rain shower stocked with large bottles of Diptyque’s 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain toiletries, a double vanity encased in gray and white marble, and a separate WC.

An array of amenities, including shaving, nail and dental kits, was neatly arranged in a drawer

Food and drink

The hotel has one main restaurant, Travelle, which serves breakfast, lunch and light bites in the evening. Afternoon tea is served in Pavilion, and The Langham Club Lounge offers a full breakfast and light refreshments throughout the day.



Divided from the lobby by two elevator banks, the Langham’s restaurant and bar space, Travelle, bears all the calling cards of the narrative-driven Rockwell Group, which designed the space as a tribute to the building’s IBM history and Miesian principles.

In the sultry entryway, a block of striated marble shimmers in amber, gray and gold hues, forming a dramatic pedestal for the hostess stand. Two rectangular glass-walled wine cases and a minimalist bar nod to the building’s exterior curtain wall.

A rich but restrained aesthetic continues with the creamy tiled floors, brown and pink rugs, and mocha-colored midcentury modern leather club chairs. Paintings on the walls and a dramatic mirrored installation which, at night, reflects on the windows to create the illusion that it’s part of the cityscape, make the entire space feel both in and of Chicago.

In the chic main dining room, classic breakfast fare like avocado and heirloom tomato toast ($26), mango chia pudding ($17) and eggs “your way” chilaquiles ($24), as well as more decadent dishes like the Travelle Benedict with lobster and truffle ($42), tempt guests to linger for the morning. An abbreviated breakfast buffet selection with eggs, fresh fruit, smoothies, and various breads and pastries is also offered in The Langham Club Lounge and is included in Club room rates.

After 5 p.m., Travelle’s buzzy lounge space serves light bites and superb cocktails, as well as heartier large plates. With its accessible menu, upbeat vibe and Mies-inspired chairs and tables with views of the river and the Marina City “corn cob” buildings next door, it’s something of an under-the-radar cocktail spot for locals.

The modern American menu showcases U.S. ranches, farms and orchards and offers seasonal twists on crowd-pleasing favorites like crispy calamari with saffron aioli, pickled serrano chiles and Castelvetrano olives ($20); Andreotti burrata with pumpkin, frisee and walnut ($24); and cream of cauliflower soup with golden raisins, Fresno chiles and Sicilian pistachios ($15).

Large plates include a succulent 9-ounce Linz Heritage reserve filet mignon served atop potato puree and asparagus and drizzled with bordelaise sauce ($58) and a seared Faroe Islands salmon with celery root puree, chicories, salsify and vin blanc sauce ($38).

Cocktails are well worth it, if a little on the pricey side. I opted for La Paloma, made with Codigo 1530 Rosa Blanco tequila, passionfruit, grapefruit cordial, lime, Fever-Tree soda and hibiscus salt, which was served in a skull-shaped glass that was then theatrically torched tableside ($25). You’ll also find riffs on classics, like the Travelle Old Fashioned, made with High West Whiskey American Prairie Bourbon Barrel Select ($25).

Afternoon tea in Pavilion

You’ll need to make reservations well in advance for one of the best afternoon tea services in Chicago, offered on the weekend (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) in the serene Pavilion. It was at The Langham, London that the hotel afternoon tea ritual was popularized in 1865, and each Langham property continues the tradition, with various iterations and themes throughout the year. It’s hard not to feel like royalty here while dining on petite sandwiches, homemade pies, scones and proprietary tea selections purveyed by the tea sommelier.

The Langham, Chicago really shines when it comes to promotions and amenities geared to families, and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea (through May; $130 per person with sparkling wine, or $60 for children) was a big hit with families during my stay. In addition to the most tasteful chocolate waterfall I’ve ever seen, it included playful desserts that were equally amusing and appetizing — such as the Bad Hair Day confection with chocolate cake, pineapple vanilla compote and dark chocolate truffle.


Hotel amenities

Walk through the lobby of The Langham, Chicago, and you’ll see not only a stream of international guests (especially from Europe and Asia, where the brand is better known) spanning multigenerational families, couples, and business and solo travelers, but also a fair number of Chicagoans, all drawn to the hotel’s superb resort-style amenities.

Chuan Spa

As the Langham brand has expanded in Asia, its signature Chuan Spa has become coveted among wellness seekers for its therapies and treatments based on traditional Chinese medicine.

Guests enter through a moon gate. The Asian-inspired space, informed by Chuan’s “Five Elements” theory, soothes with a marble waterfall feature in the relaxation lounge, painted screens and rich fabrics in the treatment rooms. It’s worth arriving at least an hour before your treatment to enjoy the signature bathing rituals, herbal sauna, Himalayan salt stone sauna and aromatherapy showers.

In addition to traditional and custom treatments, like a Swedish massage (50 minutes, $240) and deep-cleansing facial (50 minutes, $265), indulgent signature journeys — all of which incorporate Kerstin Florian products — include the 5 Wu Xing Elements In-One Wellness Journey which includes a full-body wrap, acupressure massage and cleansing treatment (120 minutes, $460).

Swimming pool


Located on the fourth floor, the wet area contains a hydrotherapy hot tub and a large indoor pool with city views. Surrounded by around a dozen chairs and a few loungers, it’s a relaxing retreat for families before or after an active day in the city, and also appeals to lap swimmers and spagoers looking to sip tea or Champagne before their treatment.

On the Saturday morning of my stay, the pool was very busy, and there was a scarcity of seating, so families may want to plan accordingly if a swimming pool is their must-have amenity.

Fitness center


The inviting fitness center occupies an expansive, warmly lit space next to the pool and is equipped with Life Fitness Signature and Elevation Series cardio equipment, Peloton bikes and a variety of weight machines and free weights. There’s also a functional training area and a studio where mind-body classes, including yoga, are held.

Langham Club Lounge


Club-level rooms have access to the stylish Langham Club Lounge. During my stay, it was populated with families rather than business travelers, and thoughtful kid-friendly amenities, including a painting easel, had been set up in one corner.

The cozy seating area is anchored by the brand’s signature “writer’s corner,” with cherry wood bookcases, an antique 1950s typewriter and two computer workstations.

The large separate dining area, decked out in luxe white marble, had elegant table seating as well as more casual high-tops adjacent to floor-to-ceiling windows that framed magnificent city and river views.

The Club’s all-day roster of refreshments includes a breakfast buffet, afternoon tea, evening hors d’oeuvres, and wine and cocktail service.

Club-level accommodations also include such perks as three garments pressed for each stay, one two-hour use of The Langham Club Boardroom (subject to availability) and butler service to help with packing and unpacking.

Out and about

For families, business travelers and couples, there is likely no better location in the city. Surrounded by Chicago’s most recognizable structures and attractions, with river and lake views in all directions, the hotel provides an immediate sense of place, and everything is either within walking distance or a short cab (or L) ride away.


Within 15 minutes, you can stroll to major landmarks and attractions, like Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, head down State Street to the theater district, and enjoy access to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. You are just a block from Michigan Avenue’s department stores and glitzy boutiques, and fitness enthusiasts will enjoy running, cycling and rollerblading the lakefront path — around a 20-minute walk away.

The hotel provides direct access to the revitalized banks of the Chicago River, and just steps from the hotel is the departure point for the not-to-be-missed First Lady architecture cruises.

If you’re keen to explore further, perhaps to see the Chicago Bulls at United Center or the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, those are less than a 15-minute taxi ride away (around $15).



The Langham, Chicago’s public spaces are all wheelchair-accessible, including a step-free main entrance and accessible elevator access (with clear signage and Braille) to the Travelle restaurant, the Chuan Spa, the Langham Club Lounge and all accommodations. There is also a designated accessible parking spot in the Langham’s parking lot, a chairlift to access the pool, and wheelchairs available for guests’ use.

Rooms, even in the entry-level Deluxe category, are spacious and allow for the maneuverability of a wheelchair with 35 inches of space on each side of the bed. Accessible rooms also have grab rails and wheel-in entries for the shower, as well as lever-type door handles and lower hanging space in the closet, among other features.

We always recommend calling the hotel before booking to confirm the availability of accessible rooms and features.

Checking out

As you’d expect of one of the most dynamic cities on the planet, there’s no shortage of luxurious, characterful places to stay in Chicago. While many properties create their own story, no hotel quite embodies Chicago’s history and architectural preeminence with such panache as The Langham, Chicago.

With spacious, elegantly decorated rooms, resort-style amenities and impeccable service, it offers understated glamour, unparalleled convenience and curated experiences and entertainment for all types of travelers.

While the hotel is known for its exceptional spa and historic aura, families will love the Langham’s welcoming, child-friendly vibe, thoughtful amenities and memorable rituals like afternoon tea and ice-cream socials in summer.

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