Photo: Semmick Photo/Shutterstock

These Two Sister Hotels Bring Luxury and Chic Stays to Chicago's Popular Neighborhoods

Chicago Epic Stays
by Jori Ayers Nov 14, 2023

After landing in Chicago and heading out of the airport to wait for an Uber, I realized why they call it The Windy City. The rain came down hard, and the wind shot me with one big gust. If this wasn’t a fitting welcome, then I don’t know what is.

As it’s my first time in Chicago, I’m filled with mixed emotions about being in a big city and curious about how it feels and looks. Helping put me at ease and calm those new-to-me city nerves is the fact that I’m here to experience two sister properties in Chicago’s popular neighborhoods.

On this trip, I stayed at the luxury apartment-style accommodations and amenities at Level Hotels and Furnished Suites and the chic boutique hotel The Emily, both owned by the Onni Group. The company is based in Vancouver, Canada, and primarily focuses on residential, commercial, and rental projects in North America. Its hotels are just as inviting as its more permanent living spaces.

Staying in either property puts you in the heart of various Chicago activities and restaurants. Both hotels are in prime locations in Chicago, so if you’re looking for a day and night of exploring and getting out of your room, you are in the right place. Level River North is in the River North neighborhood, where you can find many things to do, like the Chicago Riverwalk or 360 Chicago Observation Deck, check out the public art in Millennium Park, or shop in Wicker Park/Bucktown, Lakeview, Old Town, and Lincoln Park. Or enjoy a night on the town at the jazz club Green Mill, or hit up the bar avec rooftop bar and sip on a cocktail with Chicago views.

For anyone planning their next visit to the city, I highly recommend staying at one of these properties. Not only are you near many popular Chicago attractions, but if you want to relax on the property, you have the amenities.

Level River North

exterior of the level river north

Photo: Level Hotels and Furnished Suites

Level Hotels and Furnished Suites started in 2009 when it opened its first location in Vancouver Yaletown – Seymour, and has since expanded to Chicago and three other cities. Each site is in a walkable neighborhood close to the city’s popular dining and attractions. In Chicago, there are three locations: Fulton Market, Old Town, and River North.

Level River North is housed in a tall building that looks more like an apartment building than a hotel. Upon walking in, there is a spacious modern space with a reception desk, multiple seating areas, and a wall lined with bookshelves showcasing different stacks of genres of books, oddly shaped sculptures, plants, and unique-looking crystals and gemstones. The rooms and amenities are much more different than your typical hotel and are more in line with what someone would expect for furnished residential accommodations — but that’s paired with outstanding services and amenities one would expect from top-tier temporary lodging. Which makes sense when considering that 70 percent of the property consists of apartments with long-time residents.

Rooms and amenities at Level River North

Photo: Level Hotels and Furnished Suites
Photo: Level Hotels and Furnished Suites
Photo: Level Hotels and Furnished Suites
Photo: Level Hotels and Furnished Suites

People can book stays at Level Hotels & Furnished Suites for a few days at a time or a week, but also for a month or even a year (longer stays are treated as a lease, and the application process is similar to that of an apartment). If you are a remote worker or just need a place to stay for an extended period, Level Hotels & Furnished Suites can accommodate you. Level River North is also pet-friendly, so guests are welcome to bring their furry friends along for the trip.

The rooms at Level Hotels & Furnished Suites range from 406 to 2,100 square feet, depending on which property you are at. At Level River North, rooms can range from 425 square feet to 1,175 square feet, and that’s for your standard rooms like the Level suite, one-bedroom suite, junior two-bedroom suite, and two-bedroom suite.

Each Level property has a penthouse suite with panoramic views and expansive living spaces. The penthouse suite at Level River North location is a three-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom suite that features 4,330 square feet of indoor space and 2,108 square feet of outdoor space, making for a total of 6,483 square feet of space in this two-level suite.

I stayed in the junior two-bedroom suite, which is larger than my apartment back home. When I walked into the suite, the first thing that caught my eye was how open and bright it was in the space. I loved the light coming in from outside and the sun’s warmth in the living room. It automatically boosted my mood after being violated by hard rain pelts and heavy winds while waiting outside the airport.

The 820-square-foot room features two bedrooms and bathrooms, a sofa bed, an in-suite laundry unit, a fully equipped kitchen, an open living and dining area, and a balcony that allows for perfect views of Chicago — amenities that can be found across the range of room options at Level River North. If it were up to me, I would consider breaking my lease and moving into this space.

There are many amenities, such as conference rooms where guests can hold meetings or collaborative work functions, and entertainment spaces where you and your guests can host gatherings. Outside, these spaces feature barbecue stations and private kitchen and dining areas, and inside, you’ll find entertainment and media lounges with a giant TV screen and seating setup for things like a movie or those football-watch days. There are many amenities in this ample space like a family lounge to take the kids, a pet spa and parlor, and an arcade for when you want to feel like a kid again and play games like Pac-Man.

The Emily Hotel

the exterior of the Emily

Photo: The Emily Hotel

For a shorter stay that follows a more traditional hotel experience, Level’s sister property, The Emily Hotel, is just six minutes away in the Fulton Market neighborhood of Chicago. This boutique hotel has a modern minimalist style and designed like something you would see straight off a magazine cover or on TV.

The Emily Hotel opened in 2022. It has a cozy and quaint feel, but it also has a professional grown vibe to the hotel. While some hotels are meant to be the same across all properties so guests feel like they’re in a familiar place no matter where they are in the world, The Emily goes the other direction. The artwork and decor themes follow a modern minimalist vibe, and pieces from the hotel’s inaugural Artist in Residence, Chicago local Raspy Rivera, were some of my favorite details. Her artwork is displayed throughout the hotel, from keycards to her signature face designs painted on the hotel’s walls.

Rooms and Amenities at The Emily Hotel

Photo: The Emily Hotel
Photo: The Emily Hotel
Photo: The Emily Hotel
Photo: The Emily Hotel

The Emily Hotel offers a variety of room options, including standard king, deluxe king, deluxe double, executive king, loft suite, the Emily suite, and accessible rooms. I stayed in the deluxe double with my guest, and there was more than enough space for both of us — and, as chronic over-packers with large suitcases, more than enough space for our bags to be open and spread out.

The rooms include a sleek all-black tile bathroom area, a fully stocked mini-bar, and a lovely super-soft robe. (The hotel was kind enough to gift me and the other journalists a robe with our names embroidered on it, and ever since I arrived home, I have not taken the robe off.)

Other hotel amenities include a fitness center and a seasonal rooftop cinema on the fifth-floor terrace that operates in partnership with Rooftop Cinema Club. There are 194 seats where guests and the public can come out and watch classic films.

The hotel also has delicious dining and drink options like the Coffee Bar that serves locally roasted Sparrow Coffee and tasty fresh baked pastries from local baker and pastry chef Dan the Baker. The hotel also has a ground-floor restaurant called Fora that serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner (try the crispy pork belly). Along with Fora is the hotel’s seventh-floor rooftop cocktail bar, Selva. This stylish rooftop bar will transport you to a Mexican oasis, with the skyline view of Chicago in the background. And then there’s Sushi by Bou. This restaurant inside the hotel was originally a service hallway and storage closet. Now, it’s a graffiti-filled hallway that leads to a 90s hip-hop-inspired 10-seat counter and 10-seat lounge sushi joint where the walls are covered in paintings of hip-hop legends, and the playlist spans 90s Hip Hop.

What to do around The Emily Hotel

The Emily Hotel is located in the West Loop Fulton Market District, a hip entertainment and corporate district that is constantly busy. Previously a meat-packing and warehouse district, it’s now a bustling neighborhood filled with restaurants, cafes, bars, and boutiques. This district is home to Google, which is right across the street from The Emily, so it’s always busy with workers coming in and out of Google.

Along with the neighborhood’s popular food and drink scene, there are many places to explore, like the Navy Pier and other Chicago activities like the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and B Line – Hubbard Street Murals.

Whatever your trip may include, whether you are here for business or pleasure, Chicago has many options for your stay. If you’re looking for more of an extended stay or bringing along others, Level River North is where I recommend staying. It has plenty of room for a family and a group of friends and easily accommodates those out on business.

As for The Emily Hotel, it’s an excellent place for solo travelers or those who have a guest accompanying them. It will be the new go-to place in Chicago, especially with the Rooftop Cinema and its delicious dining options. The Emily Hotel is somewhere you shouldn’t pass up. Both properties are in the heart of popular neighborhoods, so stepping out for a bite to eat or a pick-me-up coffee after a long day of work or hitting up the nightlife in the West Loop Fulton Market district is the perfect mix when it comes to a place to stay.

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