There are good reasons why the London-based Hoxton hotel brand is booming worldwide, and they're on fine display at this West Loop location. The Hox, as it's known, is one of the few hotels that promise a convivial, stay-for-awhile lobby atmosphere for "creative types"—and actually provides it. This is modern hoteling with none of the obsequious fawning and up-charging that older, fussier brands lean on. It starts by giving guests comfortable, magazine-ready design rooms that have a luxe bed and coffeemaker and but not much more to waste your dollar (shower stall instead of tub, hooks instead of a closet, simple fruit-and-granola breakfast hung outside your door in a bag), and to that it adds lots of loft-like hangout spaces throughout the rest of the building. In a way, it functions like a miniature hip neighborhood unto itself: snazzy Peruvian restaurant on top, laid-back Mediterranean one on ground level, a cocktail bar with weekend live music in the basement, and an open-air rooftop pool deck for the warm months—all of them with cocktail bars, of course. Our first stay was in the winter, when we sat by the lobby fireplace with a craft beer and watched the snow fall through the steel beams of the L train running outside. How adorably Chicago it was. 

There are also good reasons to choose the West Loop, although they're only just becoming evident, now that new restaurants and hotels are springing up all around the former butchers' neighborhood. It's fairly easy to get anywhere else in town because the aforementioned L runs alongside the custom-built hotel (you can faintly hear it rumble past from mostly soundproofed rooms, but trains don't honk, so the effect is actually soothing—and again, adorably Chicago). For playtime on the North Side, a block away on Halsted you catch the regular 8 bus, which cuts out transfers in the Loop and reaches the bars and theatres around Fullerton and Belmont in about 15 easy minutes—faster than the L by half.