Review: The Hoxton, Chicago | Sleeper
Chicago is a city with an illustrious cultural history. Home to hot dogs, house music, the Obamas and perhaps America’s greatest ever architect, Frank Lloyd Wright — a man arguably responsible for changing not only the way we build, but also how we live — it sits on the frontier of many artistic spheres, all seeking to unearth a better understanding of human nature. Indeed, it was Lloyd Wright who proclaimed “Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilisation,” and consequently it was he who sought to bring harmony among buildings, nature and people — a quest that’s been continued by The Hoxton, with the opening of The Hoxton, Chicago.
Marking the third US outpost for the popular Ennismore brand — following others in Portland, Oregon and Brooklyn, New York — the in-house design team for The Hoxton, Chicago has riffed on the city’s effervescent cultural foundations to unveil a hotel that’s equal parts sleeping place, meeting point, and arresting aesthetic titan. Located amid the much hyped buzz of the up and coming Fulton Market District and built on the sight of a former meatpacking factory, it taps into the city’s industrial past while simultaneously capturing the exciting essence of a population that’s determined to propel it into the future.
“When setting about designing a new hotel we take extended trips to explore the city and fully immerse ourselves in the design and history of the neighbourhood,” explains Megan Gibbon, design associate at Ennismore. “We seek to find artistic movements, as well as looking at palettes and materials that echo the culture or vibe. This research element — making sure what we do is authentic — is a really important step in our design process.” And in Chicago, of course, the cornerstones of myriad cultural reference points are palpable — from music to art to food to architecture, there’s a rich heritage to draw from and a high-flying crowd of creatives to both examine and inspire.
So naturally, a handful of bustling communal spaces sit at the heart of The Hoxton, Chicago, ebbing and flowing with the tide of people who come and go throughout the day. The lobby is a grand space with a double height ceiling and huge, warehouse-style windows that create immediate impact, while the walls are adorned with a hand-curated selection of artwork from local artists that keeps the building feeling current. Designed in collaboration with global firm AvroKO, the space is scattered with custom-made leather ottomans and periwinkle armchairs, which sit alongside vintage pieces sourced locally and sofas from The Future Project. Characteristically for The Hoxton, it’s a lobby that throbs with energy from morning to night, seamlessly keeping pace with the subway trains that whizz past outside every few minutes.
This dynamism spreads throughout the hotel, encouraging a natural flow between floors. “The layout was really important to get right in this aspect because energising our guests is a huge part of what we do,” Megan affirms. “So there’s all day dining on ground level, the basement piano bar is for special occasions, and the rooftop is for year-round alfresco dining.” There’s also a mezzanine, otherwise known as the Apartment, which overlooks the lobby and is earmarked for meetings, events and shared working. Despite an open-house policy, this is The Hoxton’s first embrace of co-working culture and it’s an astute one — there’s no end of freelancers and travellers passing through here, after all.
And there’s another surprise waiting to be unearthed, this time up on the twelfth floor, where The Hoxton’s first ever rooftop pool resides — a brave move in a city famed for its harsh, subzero temperatures. “We designed the main hotel with the cold winters in mind, hoping to create a cosy place for friends to meet,” Megan explains. “But the rooftop is all about summer — the pool makes for a fun and playful environment from which to enjoy city views.” And make no mistake, locals cottoned on to this quickly, packing the rooftop daily, come rain or shine.
In truth, the first-rate restaurant offerings can also take some credit for that. Chicago’s much esteemed Boka Group is at the helm of the hotel’s culinary magic and it’s come with a justifiable fanfare. Up on the roof is Cabra Cevicheria, a Peruvian-inspired restaurant under the guidance of renowned chef, Stephanie Izard. A menu of bold and bright shareable plates is served in a light and airy setting, characterised by a colour palette of teal and burnt orange, lush hanging vines, plush velvet armchairs from Sit Down NY, and Industry West woven wooden chairs. Cabra has already become the hottest ticket in town, and not without merit.
Back on the ground floor and Cira is an all-day modern Mediterranean restaurant by chef Chris Pandel. A vibrant extension of the lobby that looks out onto the busy adjoining streets, it’s like stepping into a bubble of relaxed refinement, with custom chandeliers designed by AvroKO and striking, vintage globe pendants sourced by 1stdibs setting the mood. Elsewhere, the speakeasy charm of basement cocktail bar, Lazy Bird, is matched in sentiment by ornate House of Hackney Artemis wallpaper, smoky drapery from Hines & Co, and deco-style barstools from Industry West — Al Capone would feel right at home here.
In a city like Chicago there’s little time for rest, but with appetite and thirst sated it’s back to one of the hotel’s 182 rooms, which juxtapose the surrounding industrial feel with two-tone walls in warm white and rose. Softness is also conjured by big, comfy beds adorned in custom bedding by artist Cody Hudson, bespoke rugs from Royal Thai, and petrol-hued, leather headboards. The views from the upper floors are spectacular — you can look out on the city below while taking welcome respite from the relentless beat that pulses up from the sidewalks. “The buzz and energy in the neighbourhood is hard to ignore,” Megan admits. And thankfully, at The Hoxton, Chicago, you’re thrown right into the midst of it. Frank Lloyd Wright would approve.