Chicago is a city of skyscrapers. Here, the only thing more iconic than Wrigley Field and more photographed than Cloudgate is the city’s skyline, which is a dense mass of about 1,400 high-rises stretching toward the heavens, the glass exteriors reflecting the ripples of Lake Michigan far below. An architectural cruise on the Chicago River is one way to see the buildings from below. But the best way for a visitor to experience this skyline from aboveground is to book a room in a hotel that occupies one of these buildings, like Level Chicago River North.

On a recent trip with my father, the second stop in our budding annual tradition of touring Major League ballparks, we spent three nights at Level Chicago River North. We chose Level because we wanted a place that we would actually want to spend time in, rather than a stuffy hotel room.

Level blends high-end urban living with the efficiencies of a long-term-stay hotel. The brand designs and manages luxury furnished suites that more closely resemble apartment flats than hotel rooms, with properties in Chicago, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Seattle. This is coupled with hotel amenities like a 24-hour front desk and concierge, spa, and bag storage. The result is the removal of any uncertainties tied to short-term rentals in private homes, where what’s promised in the listing doesn’t always match what you find on arrival.

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Accommodation perfect for the modern remote worker

Units at Level Chicago River North are furnished with toiletries and a full kitchen. Each suite has laundry machines and fast wi-fi, as well as a balcony overlooking the skyline and full-panel windows wrapping the living space. The view alone had us immediately satisfied with our decision to stay here.

Because we traveled during the week, I spent the mornings working before we headed out to tour the city and attend ballgames. The property has an onsite coworking space with gigabit internet, and access is free to hotel guests and residents of the property. The space features a few “hot seat” style tables with comfortable bench and chair seating, as well as three call booths and a lounge area. Four other people used the space during the morning I spent there, each of whom appeared to be a resident of the building who regularly worked in the coworking space.

I am a fan of coworking spaces, but the benefits of our 28th-floor suite, specifically the skyline views, kept me to just one morning in Level’s coworking area. It’s not every day (in fact, because I live in a small town, it’s almost never) that I get to pop open my laptop and settle in with a view of a world-famous skyline as my backdrop.

On the same floor as the coworking space is an elevated outdoor pool deck complete with a large pool, hot tub, cabanas, and two fire pits. One could theoretically bring their laptop to the pool and knock out some laps in between work tasks, then break for lunch in the indoor communal living room where a massive TV, couch, and lounge seating are available. Guests also have access to a massive gym, spa services, and a “media room” that is effectively a small movie theater.

I’d asked the concierge in advance for his thoughts on a deep-dish pizza worth trying, where to find good craft beer, and what to see in the River North neighborhood. He came back with a detailed list of what to see and do (including Pequod’s for pizza) that served as a walking itinerary for us when we weren’t working or out at games.

How to get to Level Chicago River North and what to be aware of in advance

bedroom with skyline view at level chicago river north

Photo: Tim Wenger

High-end hotels tend to wow through opulence. Level, on the other hand, wows through practicality. It’s easy to get to the hotel on the train from O’Hare International Airport via the Blue Line to Grand Station. The hotel is also less than a mile from the Red Line, which runs straight through the city from north to south. We used this line to get to both Wrigley Field and Citizens Bank Park. If you plan to take an architecture tour or otherwise get out on the river, the DuSable Bridge and the docks that surround it are a five-minute Uber ride or a 20-minute walk, with ample dining and shopping options available along the way.

The main thing to note about Level Chicago River North is that, in addition to its furnished suites, the property also hosts long-term residents. You may be on the elevator with a jogger heading down to take their dog out or a young professional just getting home from work. On that note, the hotel is pet-friendly, so bring the pup along.

Parking is available at an on-site garage for an additional $50 per night fe. The hotel does not have onsite dining, though this is Chicago – anything you could possibly want to eat is available within walking distance or is a quick train ride away.

Level Chicago River North is not for those looking to be pampered by cookie-cutter hotel comforts, or who wish to remain hidden from the true character of Chicago. Quite the opposite – from the moment they open the door to their suite, Level helps its guests dive into the city and capture Chicago’s outgoing personality. For that, there’s no better place to be.

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