REVIEWED BY Francis X. Gallagher



FXExpress Publications


ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: It was a cold and rainy day in Chicago and remained that way for the rest of my trip. The doormen at The Langham stood ready to welcome me and other guests with umbrellas and bottled water, which made for a warm first impression. The hotel lobby is up a few floors, and the property shares a building entrance with a Mad Men-ish office skyscraper from the 1960s. Check-in was swift and courteous. Please pay particular attention to the hanging glass art in the lobby ceiling, resembling water droplets … appropriate, given the weather. GUEST QUARTERS: I stayed in Suite 701, private, tucked into a corner at the end of the hallway and nicely located for views. Upon opening the door, I entered a large hallway with a series of closets to the right offering storage for belongings. To the left, a little built-in area held my carry-on luggage and other amenities. Directly across from the door a lavish bathroom featured a double sink with a gray and white marble top, flanked by a tub topped with the same marble and a large shower stall. Its sophisticated showerheads made for a reviving morning wake-up. The wall-mounted commode was European-like with its own separate glass door. The spacious main bedroom and living area included a comfortable king-sized bed with a white duvet and lots of pillows, flanked by two end tables fitted with efficient connectivity for laptops and smartphones. A large, flatscreen TV sat to the left of a panoramic ceiling-to-floor window that took up the entire wall, facing the Chicago River and my old office on Wacker Drive. This brought back fond memories of me as a 20-something tackling the media industry in the Windy City. A modern glass-top desk sat in front of the window, so I could work and look out at the city … and see if I needed an umbrella. A little seating area held two comfortable chairs and a table, good for reading a book. SERVICES/AMENITIES: I thoroughly enjoyed the Chuan amenities in the bathroom, and the shampoo and conditioner (replenished daily) made it home in my carry-on. As it is said, if a guest takes your amenities on departure, you have selected the right products. Travelle, the lobby lounge and restaurant, offers a place to meet guests for a drink or meal. My suite included access to The Langham Club, which became my home away from home. Elegant but friendly, the Club offered a place to have breakfast, entertain guests and unwind at the end of the day. I cannot tell you how invaluable club access is to your stay at The Langham, and it was made wonderful by the team who welcomed each guest. I could go on and on about the service and attention to detail; this property makes a great base for entertaining clients. One evening I was to have dinner with a colleague outside the hotel, but we ended up never leaving the Club as it served such a variety of dishes. ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: I flew into Denver International Airport in the late afternoon, and by the time I picked up my rental car and drove to the Rino district in Denver, the sun had set behind the Rocky Mountains. That means the first time I entered The Ramble Hotel, it was evening and the hotel was hopping! The marquee lobby bar, Death & Co, sits in the exact same space as the registration desk, making for a unique check-in process. I was warmly greeted and given an actual room key (not a card) attached to a swatch of dark brown leather. I asked the hostess to double-check the table reservation I’d made for a little later in the evening, rolled my luggage through the bar and took the elevators to the third floor. GUEST QUARTERS: With only 50 rooms, this boutique hotel screams trendy and posh. The energy inside the lobby was engaging and magnetic. I couldn’t wait to drop my luggage in the room to come back downstairs for more. My room was on the smaller side, but the lavish and luxurious features more than made up for its size. Dark navy walls, crisp white linens and a crystal chandelier over a plush seating area grabbed my immediate attention, with a loft-like view of the city and brushed gold touches throughout the room catching my eye the more I observed. Wide-plank hickory floors, a Bluetooth gramophone speaker and an in-room craft cocktail bar rounded out the experience. The bathroom was styled with white subway tiles on the walls around a half-glass shower. Two robes; a large sink; and a Hollywoodstyle vanity mirror, adorned with 15 frosted light bulbs, added a hint of swanky luxury. SERVICES/AMENITIES: The famed Death & Co cocktail bar in New York expanded to The Ramble in Denver and does a marvelous job of creating what feels like an exclusive, uptown experience inside a hidden location. I enjoyed a bowl of marinated olives with my Hunny Bunny cocktail, watching other guests from my leather chair near the window. The next night, I asked if I could dine in the Sakura Blossom Bar, a smaller, even more exclusive bar atop the lobby area with copious amounts of cherry blossoms lining the walls and ceiling. There I enjoyed a late-night snack of drunken cookies and popcorn with coconut oil and pink Himalayan salt before turning in for bed. Each morning I grabbed a honey chai from DC/AM, a smaller breakfast/brunch café also located within the lobby and full of its own charming character. With three dining locations on site, my taste buds were frequently delighted and my stomach full, but The Ramble’s excellent location places it easily within walking distance of numerous restaurants and breweries in the area. ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: I had overnighted in Fort Lauderdale before meeting two colleagues and heading to Miami Beach. Let me tell you, hotel guestrooms are instantly more relaxing when they sit near the beach. Arriving at The Gabriel South Beach, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, was no exception. As we were early for check-in, we dropped our bags, grabbed lunch nearby, and by the time we finished eating, I got an alert my room was ready. GUEST QUARTERS: While not overly spacious, my king deluxe guestroom was functional, and the light-colored, beachinspired, neutral décor also made the space feel more open and airy. Unfortunately, my room boasted views over the surrounding rooftops, but some guestrooms offer ocean or pool views. Upon entry I observed a small closet to the right in a short hallway leading into the bedroom space. A long piece of furniture lay just beyond the closet, functioning as a desk, complete with a stool, and the minibar/coffeemaker area. I particularly enjoyed the minibar selection, grabbing trail mix to throw in my bag before heading out to the convention I was in town to attend. With the flatscreen TV hanging above, the mixed-use table led to a cream-colored couch, perfect for spreading out my stuff, with an end table that could be pulled over the couch. Two nightstands flanked the king-sized bed. The bathroom, where the smallness could be most felt, ran parallel to the bed. The shower was large, but storage space was limited. SERVICES/AMENITIES: As I mentioned, I was in Miami for a convention, so I did not have as much time as I would have liked to explore the hotel’s amenities, like Dalia or the Rooftop Bar. Open daily, 7 a.m.–11 p.m., Dalia serves coastal Mediterranean cuisine. Dalia can also double as event space, accommodating 82 people seated and 150 for a reception. The outdoor Courtyard, off the lobby, really brings the Miami vibes, offering seating, foliage and lights for everyday use or a reception space for 150. The Lobby Bar, with a sophisticated Art Deco feel, served me both a morning iced coffee and an evening gin and tonic. The space can also be used for receptions for up to 80 people. On my last day, I used the public restroom on the second floor to freshen up before my flight home, and as I navigated there, I found a cute, cozy, library-like lounge space I wished I’d discovered earlier. The Rooftop Pool is another space I had time only to briefly visit. Be sure to check out the hotel’s artwork, as well.