Rickety treadmills in a dark, humid corner of the basement. Awkward, sweaty encounters with business associates in the elevator, or in robes in the spa locker room. Planks and pushups done on a towel while trying not to think about the cleanliness of the carpeting.
Those moments may soon be relics of the past, if Chicago’s hospitality trendsetters have anything to say about it. At an increasing number of properties, visitors — or staycationers — can enjoy workouts and other wellness experiences in the comfort of their own rooms.
As part of a multi-million-dollar renovation, the DoubleTree by Hilton on the Magnificent Mile (300 E. Ohio St.) is adding a lodging category called Five Feet to Fitness. On the far side of these rooms — instead of that corner armchair used mostly for tossing once-worn clothes — you’ll find a rectangle of eco-friendly and sound-dampening gym flooring (bonus: it’s highly sanitizable).
A computerized kiosk guides you through your choice of routines using a rack full of equipment, including resistance bands, medicine balls, and SandBells, a cross between a kettlebell and a sandbag that’s incredibly satisfying to slam into the ground. There’s also a spin-studio-quality exercise bike from Chicago-area company Life Fitness, along with a meditation chair and a stock of sports drinks and protein shakes.
The rooms cost 20 percent more than the normal rate — a price guests told Hilton they’d be willing to pay in a 2016 survey, says Teresa Flyger, director of Global Brand Wellness. “Fitness isn’t just a hobby for many people, it’s a requirement to maintain their health — even when they’re traveling,” she says.
Chicago — with its wacky weather and less-than-nutritious food specialties — represents an ideal market, she notes (though by the end of 2020, you’ll find the rooms in all 560+ DoubleTree by Hilton hotels around the world).
A similar but more spacious setup awaits you in Swissôtel Chicago’s (323 E. Wacker Dr.) 1,700-square-foot Vitality Suite. There, the so-called Wellbeing Wall — designed by stylish equipment company NOHrD — actually claims an entire room of the suite’s five. Choose from a Peloton bike or water rower, among other options, and follow along with a program from the embedded TV screen.
In addition to in-room superfood snacks and an infused water station, you can order nutritious dishes like Turmeric Grilled Chicken off a room-service menu exclusive to the suite. Blackout blinds, a menu of pillow options, and a sleep kit with eye mask encourage tranquil slumber.
The Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago (401 N. Wabash Ave.), too, offers Spa Guestrooms stocked with yoga mats, blocks, and Technogym free weights — along with fresh air recirculation to remove any olfactory evidence of your sweat session. Afterward, soak in a Kohler extra-deep tub with Natura Bissé bath products.
Forget your gear? No problem. The Kimpton Gray (122 W. Monroe St) can lend you some Lululemon apparel — and if you love it, it’s available for purchase. The Gray, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago (225 N. Wabash Ave.), and the Dana (660 N. State St.) all offer in-room yoga mats, too.
And if you need ideas — or inspiration — from some of Chicago’s fittest residents, stay at the J.W. Marriott (151 W. Adams St.) and tune your TV to the custom “Behind the Barre” series. Dancers from the Joffrey Ballet will guide you through breathing exercises, strengthening moves, and stretches.