Executive Travel: Chicago's number one hotel earns its accolade for good reason​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The centrally located Langham offers stunning city views, luxurious interiors and an attentive army of butlers

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The Langham is the number one hotel in Chicago, according to Tripadvisor’s 2019 Travellers’ Choice Awards. This centrally located property is widely praised for its superlative service and opulent luxury on a North American scale.

It can be found in the 52-storey former IBM Plaza — the last building in North America designed by acclaimed modernist, German-American architect Mies van der Rohe — and opened on floors two through to thirteen some six years ago.

Club room guests have their own check-in on the 13th, or ’12C’ floor as it is known.

This floor has a truly palatial lounge with a plush, cream leather seating area and a marble-floored dining zone for high-end food presentations, including breakfast, as well as panoramic views out to Lake Michigan and the surrounding skyscrapers.

There’s a writer’s corner, where I penned this review, looking down over the River Walk and Trump Tower; and a business centre tucked away behind a wall with two Apple PCs and an HP Laser Jet Pro 400 printer.

Throw in attentive service by a small army of butlers for whom nothing is too much trouble — one apologised for keeping me waiting while he finished chatting to a guest whose husband had just been hospitalised from the hotel — and you have a complete business life-support system that few hotels I’ve visited over the years could match.

The 268 guest rooms and 48 suites range from the standard deluxe room at 48 square metres to a pair of extraordinarily lavish 251 square metre presidential suites, which cost from Dh33,000-a-night. They have the ubiquitous wall-to-ceiling windows, fireplaces, ultra-large TVs, white marble bathrooms and dining rooms for 10 guests.

My Dh1,763 executive club-access room, however, still came with plenty of luxuries, including a stunning Botticino Fiorito marble bathroom, deep soaking tub and rainfall shower. There is complimentary pressing for three items that were returned within two hours and club room guests also have free use of a boardroom for two hours during their stay.

While the oversize executive desk and wide leather chair lacked a foreign plug socket, the efficient club-level butlers soon rustled up a suitable adapter. There was also a Nespresso machine, though no kettle; a 55-inch LCD TV and the internet clocked a fast 30.8 Mbps.

An unusual extra facility is a comfortable and spacious cinema room where you can book a complimentary film showing.

In-room dining is averagely priced for a five-star hotel with a club sandwich at Dh85 and a filet mignonsteak for Dh191; a 375ml Voss mineral water is Dh30 and Pepsi Dh22.

The massive Life Fitness gym on the fourth floor has sweeping views of the neighbourhood, 14 cardo-vascular and 14 strength machines — a must for beating jet lag. Alternatively, try the 20-metre swimming pool, illuminated from above and below or chill out in the beautiful Chuan spa which is flooded with natural light.

When it comes to eating out, this hotel is surrounded by 351 restaurants within 500 metres. Competition is therefore tough. I recommend the Travelle, occupying a corner on the second floor of the hotel, that has seasonally-inspired American contemporary cuisine as well as excellent steaks, a 10-metre digital artwork and an interior that complements the architecture of the building.

This hotel is strong on art installations and sometimes organises popular tours to inspect its 150-work collection.

Meetings, conferences and events for 12 to 260 participants can be accommodated in the hotel’s 10 light and airy function rooms, including a double-height ballroom where a retirement planning event was being held when I visited. Mies van der Rohe's wall-to-ceiling windows certainly make for maximum light in every room.

The award-winning Langham — which hit the top spot for travellers to the city in its first year and has kept it ever since — has that certain star quality that is hard to define.

Maybe quality is the secret, from the personalised service down to the smallest details, like replacing a shoeshine pad daily, plus of course those Chicago skyscraper views.