Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hotel Felix in Chicago

This is a rave for a Chicago Hotel. Five stars, two thumbs up, and a big hats-off to this environmentally conscious boutique inn. What originally caught my attention to the Hotel Felix, located at 111 W. Huron St., was that they had applied for their Silver LEED Certificate. For those of you who do not know, a LEED Certificate is an internationally recognized green-building point-rated system that is applied for and given to new and old buildings. Buildings in the Silver rated range must meet minimal requirements for energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Building’s that are under construction must use as much of the old footprint or prior existing building, and recycle or reuse as much as possible of the old building that the new one will be replacing. From the outside, the Hotel Felix looks polished and pretty and the 1920's facade and signage looks like the old Gangster-Gotham that Chicago used to be. That’s because they used as many exterior and interior walls as they could and they tuck-pointed or replaced tiles/bricks/ frontage with the same type of materials that were originally used. (For more information about LEED Certification: )
The Hotel Felix is located in the River North District and is on the south-west shoulder of the Gold Coast. Just blocks from Michigan Avenue, the Chicago River, and conveniently located near the CTA Red and Brown Lines, the hotel is also near the path of the Red Double Decker bus tours stop located at The Hard Rock Cafe. Being so near public transportation and being a local business which encourages walking actually gives more LEED’s points to Hotel Felix. This also makes the hotel a great urban destination to visit or stay at for visitors and locals.
Do I sound like a professional sound piece for the Hotel? Not me. So far, I have never been influenced to write a review or article that I did not want to write. But I live only a few blocks from the hotel, so it is my neighbor. I always like to support (if I like it) my neighboring businesses. Also, the Hotel Felix was in my Twitter Social Network and I really liked, Molly, the voice of the Hotel. Through her "tweets," I learned of the Hotel’s LEED’s goals and of the many amenities that the hotel had to offer. And then I went to the restaurant in the hotel, ELATE.
Let me say this: I am a hairdresser, and if I recommend a restaurant, it is because I have heard more good things than bad about it—I’ve tried it—and I’ve loved it. Elate blew me away with its “American Market” cuisine, which means I was eating seasonal yummy dishes with grilled tomatillo, rhubarb, avocado, macadamia nuts, grilled beets, barata, and Pizza with pork lechon plus black beans, cotija cheese & pineapple mojo. All of the plates are small for share, so you don’t have to be scared or sorry that you didn’t walk down the street to Poritillo's for your regular mid-west fare. You can just stop in for a few appitizers--but you won't stop eating and you will get full--I assure you. And the prices range per plate is from $9 to $14 -- the low twenties for the bigger protein dishes. My favorite waiter is Jordan, “like the country.” He told me all about veteran Chef, Randal Jacobs, who hunts for local grown and organic foods which means that the menu will always be changing. Jordan has done much of my ordering for me. “Trust me,” he always says. I do trust him. And trust me when I say: order the beet dish and the brussels sprout dish if it's still on the menu. I never loved either, before now, and you’ll fall in love with them too. Menu to date and Chef bio:
The bar is zigzagged to accommodate sitters and yet one can still order a drink from the great bartenders. Outdoor seating is available although I love the insides with high ceilings, chandeliers, and big windows. On Elate’s website they call the decor “rustic and sophisticated” with many green elements incorporated into the design such as distressed concrete floors mixed with Herringbone patterned oak. Here’s a professional review from The Reader if you like:
After many tweets and raves about Elate, I asked Molly if she could introduce me to George B. Jordan, the General Manager of the Hotel Felix. I thought, because I liked the restaurant and hotel, that I might write something about it, one day, if I found out anything I thought was interesting.
The first thing that was very interesting to me was the climate control in each individual room. Made by InnCom Their software hardware system knows when a guest enters the room and immediately starts heating or cooling the room to the guests’ desired settings. And each room is boutiqued for spare-ity and function so that means Italian type designed beds with drawers underneath instead of bureaus, and closets that double as shelving. Of course there’s every amenity, Energy-Star Flat Screens, blow dryers and, of course, recycling baskets in each bath room. (They even recycle the unused shampoos and conditioner products!)
George gladly showed me around the hotel personally which was very cool. He's funny and his staff likes him and I noticed that he's a happy perfectionist. You won’t see many appliance cords “squimy-sqamin” around end-table legs or coming from the backs of the large flat screens in the conference rooms or media center. He would have wound each loose cord himself because I saw him unconciously do it once. And he very much understands that Social Media specialist like to link & log-in via wireless routers to big monitors so each meeting-room is now equipped to do so.
I think another stamp that George has put on the Hotel Felix is his love of art, which I really appreciate. (Plug: I’m room-mates with the Art Gallery Owner of Curly Tale Fine Art; close to the Hotel.) The very first thing George pointed out to me in the lobby was the Earth, Wind and Fire Element: which were the wall of precision-placed logs, blown glass hanging orbs, and tre-chic fire place. Everyone will notice “Loren the Doorman.” He’s the bright yellow and red sculpture of a happy hearty-sized doorman ready to hail your Chicago cab for you. George seems to be the art adviser and curator for the Hotel’s acquisitions and everyone gets to appreciate.
The staff seems genuinely happy and handsome. And I couldn't go on about the gym and the Spa, of which I have only toured but not used myself. But I can tell you that the Spa is run by ASHA, an Aveda lifestyle salon spa, so I know the staff is trained and professional and their prices are just the same as their downtown salon. (
I’ll let you book your next room at Hotel Felix yourself. You’ll love my Chicago neighborhood and cherished neighbor just as much as I do. The spirit and extra effort in which it took to make a green hotel in Chicago is also put into the details such as no VOC paints, and non-toxic cleaners used for a healthy environment that has been beautifully designed and is also a pleasure to rave about.

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  1. Once again, very informative, fantastic writing. Trust me, if I ever get to Chicago, I will definitely consider staying here. I've been in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, and Jon, you touched on every important detail. Thank you for this!

  2. Great post JD. I hope more places in Chicago get interested in LEED certification. Did you know Bleeding Heart Bakery is certified?

  3. Thanks for the great post JD. What an awesome review and Loren the Doorman appreciated the shout out!

    Northeast Cooling: Not sure if the Bleeding Heart Bakery on Belmont is certified but it sure is delicious and uses many organic ingredients.

    1. Felix is great hotel to stay. Their is all kind of service available. Saloon, spa and all other relaxation service was provided by them.

      the Ivy Boutique Hotel