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Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
20 E. Chestnut St.
Chicago, IL

A Fresh, French Breeze Blows Through the Windy City

Prismatic Façade

Despite its no-nonsense Midwest roots, Chicago is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city. It offers superlative dining, museums, jazz, theater and architecture. In the latter category, it is a metropolis of landmarks, and its skyline just keeps on growing, most notably in recent years with the arrival of Jean-Paul Viguier’s visionary Sofitel Chicago Water Tower.

Opened in 2002, this striking building will make you rethink French aesthetic stereotypes. This is no Versailles. Sleek and contemporary are the only words to describe this prismatic, angular, 32-story structure. Set just off the Miracle Mile, it enjoys a corner location, which informs its triangular shape. The opaque white glass façades angle out as they go up—those subject to vertigo should beware of the upper floors. This also means lots of natural light, and a kind of Alice in Wonderland drama to the interiors, which are sculpted by the exterior shape.

Once inside, you’ll be happy to discover how harmoniously form and function can coexist. The two-story atrium lobby is anchored by a triangular glass staircase, lit with over 3,000 small bulbs. Paris-based interior designer, Pierre-Yves Rochon, conceived the minimalist interiors and almost ninety percent of the hotel’s furniture. You’ll love what he’s done, beginning with the beautiful lounging areas, with their camel-colored sofas, jeweled tones and dusky lighting. A translucent second staircase, illuminated by a skylight, leads from the second to third level, which houses the 4,500-square-foot ballroom.

Scandinavian Feel in the Rooms
Angular Lobby

Altogether there are 415 accommodations, including thirty executive rooms, 32 suites and a presidential suite. Although this property is distinctly French, down to the bonjour that greets you upon arrival, the rooms have a Scandinavian feel to them. This is due to the light beechwood walls, chrome accents and simplicity of the furnishings. East facing rooms look over John Hancock Center skyscraper, and if you’re on the twentieth floor or above, you can gaze out on Lake Michigan. Among the standard amenities are deep soaking tubs, high-speed wireless Internet access, telephones with voicemail and Web TV.

Fine Dining
Cozy Sitting Area

Given France's unparalleled culinary reputation, it’s no surprise that the property has a great French restaurant. Frédéric Castan, executive chef at Café des Architectes, infuses the flavors of France and the Mediterranean with subtle Asian and Latin American influences. The restaurant opens onto Chestnut Avenue and offers a seasonal terrace. Design-wise, it keeps up with the hotel, decorated with a bold red, black and white color scheme; black and white architectural sketches; and framed renderings by famous architects. (No wonder it has been acclaimed by the American Institute of Architects). In addition, there is Le Bar, with its fiber-optic ceiling, attractive zinc and bubinga wood bar, cozy library area and fun drinks, such as the C’est la Vie and Moulin Rouge.

With its cutting-edge architecture, French panache and imaginative cuisine, the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower is an excellent base … and a breath of fresh air.

Going to Chicago? Check our Guide to Illinois and 72 Hours in Chicago.


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