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Soak up the views of the Chicago skyline from Roof, theWit's fabulous bar.

By Jessica Labaire

A DoubleTree hotel? Well ya coulda fooled me. Way to step it up, DoubleTree.

So DoubleTree is a Hilton and theWit is a DoubleTree (which means warm cookies and Hilton points). I don’t necessarily get it, but I sure do like it. Myprevious impression of DoubleTree was sort of low budget — not sure if that was an accurate impression — but it was mine. I am happy to say, though, that I’d give the brand a second look after seeing what they’ve accomplished with this downtown Chicago hotel which is also dare I say it … affordable <GASP>. Well, at least comparable to five-star hotels at higher rates.

The birds and the beauty products
The lobby, which oozes ambiance with cool colors and mod decor,  is just funky enough so you feel like you are in a swanky hotel — minus the attitude. You don’t have to be a star to fit in. Great staff – oh my word, start to finish they couldn’t have been more accommodating — but without the annoyance that sometimes comes with over-accommodating. The elevator was a bit confusing. Three of us couldn’t figure out how to get to our floor (Tip: You need to use your room key to push the button) and rode up and down twice before we collectively got it right. Duh–the elevator is plastered with notes and instructions.

They took elevator musak and turned it into hallway sounds, which are piped-in bird noises. It might take you minute to figure out why you hear birds chirping but when you do you realize the sounds change based on the time of day (or night). Nice touch.

The rooms simply dazzle.  From a top-notch multimedia section for presentations and video plug-ins ( a little complex for me but I suspect some techies might like it) to an 1875-watt full-size hair dryers, thoughtful extras really enhanced the stay. And to top it all off, the amenity snob in me was relieved to find Gilchrist and Soames soaps and shampoos in the bathroom — very nice. I love not packing that stuff now.

Eat, drink, play
The hotel’s downtown Chicago address made it very tempting to crawl all the bars, restaurants and attractions within walking distance, but we didn’t really need to leave — at least not for food or drink. The main restaurant — an upscale boite called cibo matto whose name translates to “crazy food” — was really quite exquisite. Our group had the luxury of dabbling in many flavors, but the octopus starter might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life quickly followed by a salted caramel ice create dessert. OhEmGee!  And just to remind us not to take them so seriously, after dessert we were treated to a fun cotton candy treat. State & Lake is the more casual full service restaurant and is really so much not like a “hotel” restaurant they actually also have a street entrance to not dissuade non-guests from enjoying it. Bottom line: Both places are great and affordable, unlike many hotel dining experiences.

For cocktails,  make sure to visit Roof, which is unlike any roof top bar I’ve been to. I can see it getting a little pretentious and attracting a fancy crowd, but hey I’ll suck it up — cocktails were unique and delicious and the view is to die for.

Sensory treats
TheWit is about “experience” not just heads in beds. And I think they’ve accomplished that quite well. Funky music in the common areas. Interesting scents pumped in that you may not even realize. Birds, cricket & roosters sounds. Even a spa decorated in hot pink, a welcome departure from the brown and lavender common at other sanctuaries. Oh and my favorite detail — pre-recorded wake up calls by Dusty Waters and Al Capone (hysterical). Oh did I mention the movie theater? It’s not really accessible to guests, but can be rented for events.

Before your stay
Not without fault there are a few things I could’ve left at the door. Be cautious of adjoining rooms.  I could hear EVERYTHING next door. Conversations as if I were in their room, sneezes, television, I mean everything. Not sure if the non-adjoining rooms were loud, but I suspect you can request one of those. Also a trip to the ice machine was like a scavenger hunt. It was literally two floors away, with few signs and quite hidden. This wouldn’t normally bug me, but the cleaning people only came once (late, late in the day) and didn’t fill my ice. Yes, it’s a nit-picky detail, but one that I get used to in my travels.

Would I stay here again? Heck yeah. I’d move in if they’d let me.

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Tagged: Hotels, Midwest

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