Luxury Hotels

Back to the Windy City and a significant luxury hotel

Le Bar

The gal knew she was back in the Windy City as soon as she got into an elevator at the stunning architectural wonder that is Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile (the architect of the 32-foot vertical ‘spear’ is Jean-Paul Viguier, whose global portfolio ranges from La Défense’s Majunga Tower through to Morocco Telecom’s Rabat headquarters, via San Antonio’s McNay Museum of Art).  See the elevator cabin, above.  Sensibly, back in 2002, the developers of the 415-room luxury hotel put in a significant drinking-lounge on the ground floor, just by the main entrance, and that is, honestly, the heart of this lovely place.

Matthew Blackmore

In fact we, GM Matthew Blackmore and I, chose to dine in Le Bar rather than in the 96-seat Café des Architectes, which presumably comes into its own when the weather is bad and you cannot sit out on its terrace. Le Bar is fun, with communal high-up tables or low-down lounge seating, and stools next to the fire that, with no heat output, is perfect all year round.  Others like sitting up at the bar counter, either working their devices or watching sports-bar screens.  Matthew Blackmore is a life-time Fairmont guy, from outside Toronto, and it was fascinating to talk to him about this, his first Sofitel posting. Yet again I was convinced that Accor is managing the partnership of its extended range of brands much better than another big company.

Salmon tartare in Le Bar

But do not let GirlAhead veer into politics  Let us stay here, at Sofitel in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile area.  Obviously with its French heritage, Sofitel will have great food and Le Bar’s menu was superb – after a totally unmemorable Montreal ‘burger’ airside at Toronto airport a few hours ago, I wanted real food, and I got it in the form of salmon tartare, followed by truffle-poached halibut, with a welcome-to-USA glass of Cloudfall Pinot Noir from Monterey.  After a good night’s sleep, I also needed a good work out, and the gym, fortunately, is 24/7 (next time I will wear dark glasses as someone has chosen a geometric wallpaper in front of the running machines, a potentially migraine-inducing pattern).

Breakfast breads

Café des Architectes certainly knows how to do a good breakfast, French as well as international.  Yes, jams are Bonne Maman, and the croissants looked marvellously authentic, but I also loved the big selection of breads brought round in a sturdy wood box, and the multi-grain toast was far better than the norm in US hotels.  With plenty of outstanding coffee, I was ready to continue the day, and concierge Peter had kindly arranged my newspaper of choice.  There is certainly a French flair to this architectural hotel, and it is not surprising that, according to Matthew Blackmore, 30% of guests are repeats (I will certainly be back, hopefully for another casual evening in Le Bar). NOW SEE SUITE 2908