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Issue Date: March 2008 Issue


Cloud 9 - W Chicago Lakeshore


Kari Skaflen
I slide my key into the room door and enter to the sultry voice of Nina Simone welcoming me home. Outside, the stores and restaurants are packed with people. Cabbies honk. The EL rumbles along its endless circuit.

Inside, my nightstand table holds a thick cream card emblazoned with the slogan “Whatever, Whenever.” Ah, if only it were home. Alas, it’s just my weekend room at the W Chicago Lakeshore. This is so my kind of place, with pampering from people who know what’s hot: Here it’s cocktails, not high tea; the library displays sleek coffee-table books, not stodgy encyclopedias; and the hotel’s Wave Restaurant is big-city, fusion-style cuisine with a chef nicknamed “Spice Girl” by The Sun-Times because of the way she plays with flavors.

My room is a stylish, playful marriage of steel grays and warm wood — industry and nature, technology and simplicity. Through a wall of windows framed by bamboo blinds, I look out to spectacular views of Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. Dark wood furnishings and a violet-colored silk bedspread atop a W-exclusive featherbed continue the urban feel. The shower has no doors or curtains; only a thick wall of clear, immovable glass covers a portion of the shower area.

After decompressing, I peel myself off the bed and take the elevator up to the Whiskey Sky bar on the hotel’s 33rd floor to meet friends. I’m the first to arrive (my girlfriends are all texting me their apologies as I sip), but before I can even think about looking pathetically alone, the well-heeled guy next to me strikes up a conversation. He’s in Chicago for the weekend and meeting friends here. Our talk turns to wine; he’s very much in approval of Sky’s wine list. Eventually, my friends arrive, I wave them over, and we dive headlong into catching up on our lives.

The next day, I head to the Bliss spa for my Blissage 75 treatment ($150), a full-body combination shiatsu and Swedish massage.

The spa, with its cheery, eggshell-blue walls and friendly staff, has a sunny, bucolic feel. Inside the treatment room, I lie on a heated massage table and my therapist heads straight to the heart of my aches: my stiletto-weary feet. Later, while leaving the spa, I hear a compliment tossed my way from the receptionist: “I love your pistol earrings,” she says. It brings home what I love so much about the W: It’s utter pampering, from people on my wavelength. They love the city, the busy hum of constant action, and they’ve carved out a peaceful oasis — with a city girl’s eye for style.

Sneak away for a couple days with the Bliss Weekender ($269), a package that includes in-suite vanilla ice cream, special spa offers and take-home, full-size bottles of Bliss’ signature body butter and shower gel.

Party at the Whiskey Sky. With sweeping views of the lake and city below, it’s a sumptuous bar that oozes swank and charm without being pretentious.
644 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 943-9200
www.starwoodhotels.com

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