Chicago: My Kind of Welcome
Leah Walker May 15, 2012

Now, this could only happen to a gal like me, and only happen in a town like this. So, may I say to each of you most gratefully…this is my kind of town, Chicago!

Old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra, sang it best, but I just couldn’t help but borrow the words from his ode to Chicago, “My Kind of Town.” I wasn’t sure about his love song to the Windy City. I’d never been, nor had I really considered it as a vacation destination until talk of the next Tweetup began. Just as I can’t recall how the TexasTweetup in Austin came to be, I can’t really place how the WindyCityTweetup developed. I suppose it’s not really important how it happened. I was going to find out if Chicago was the kind of town that won’t let me down, as the Chairman of thTweetupe Board proclaimed.

Chicago nightCredit

O’Hare is arguably one of the busiest airports in the US. With that many passengers and planes coming and going, I didn’t have the expectation for an on-time arrival. Lola was coming in from Boston, Raul was coming in from Atlanta, and we were going to share a car to the city. I was supposed to be the last to arrive, so I was hoping that my plane wasn’t delayed too long.

IAH Airport

After a short, two-hour flight, my captain announced that we were arriving into O’Hare 35 minutes early. Score! This almost never happens to me. Chicago was looking good so far. I deplaned and trekked for what seemed like several miles to the United baggage claim. Who’s bag was the very first to come out? Yep, that’s right. Mine! Yet another gold star for the Windy City.

O'Hare ArrivalThanks for the pic, Raul!

After the hugs, Raul, Lauren, and I set out to find our ride. Before we knew it, our chariot, a black Excursion, rolled up to whisk us off to our hotel. Sweet!

Chicago Excursion

To say that Chicago has awful traffic would be an understatement, but on this Friday evening, it was really horrible. Our driver confirmed it. Since we were busy cackling like a bunch of hens, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Minus half a point for Chicago, though.

O'Hare Limo Ride Thanks again, Raul!

We rolled up to our home base for the weekend, the Sofitel Water Tower. A soft glow of lights and eager doormen and bell hops greeted us. This was not only my first trip to Chicago, but also my first in a Sofitel. What I found was a sleek, modern space splashed with pops of colorful flowers and Brigitte Bardot. That’s right, the French siren of film, song, and modeling, graced every available wall. Mannequins wearing clothes inspired by her were adorned atop cocktail tables. If this was just the lobby, I knew I’d love my digs. And thanks to a great deal on Jetsetter, we had a suite.

Sofitel Chicago

Lauren and I arrived to the eleventh floor to find a beautiful, well-appointed, giant suite. Lovely French touches could be seen throughout. Hermès toiletries lined the sink. Frette bedding and towels were like clouds. Evian and Perrier waters were sprinkled throughout. These luxuries were not lost on either one of us.

Chicago Sofitel5

Chicago Sofitel4

Chicago Sofitel2

Chicago Sofitel3

With a hotel space larger than most NYC apartments, Lauren and I could have easily missed our surprise gifts.

Sofitel Chicago1

Who am trying to fool? We squealed with delight when we saw not one, but two silver trays filled with goodies. What could be more French than macarons?

Chicago Sofitel7

The sweet, meringue-based confectioneries were light and delicious. Pink, purple, green, and brown perfection sat atop beautiful glass shelves, but not for long. They truly were #magnifique!

Chicago Sofitel6

Adding to our most excellent arrival was a gift from Francesca, a local blogger joining us for the Tweetup. I was blown away by her thoughtfulness. The chocolates and strawberries were as delicious as they looked, too. We didn’t have much time to ohh and ahhh over the goodies or relax in the room because we had yet another surprise waiting. I received a message through Twitter that we should be in Le Bar at 8:30, so after freshening up, Lola and I quickly made our way downstairs.

Le Bar Sofitel Chicago5

Waiting for us were Raul and Pola, the Chicago-based blogger behind Jetting Around. We cozied up in the dark, lively bar. It wasn’t long before a waitress greeted us. I mentioned the instructions, and her eyes lit up; I knew she would take excellent care of us. She mentioned Le Bar’s drink specialties, including their latest, the indulgent-sounding Wrigleyville. We were also told about the food that was being gifted to us by the hotel. Plus one for the Sofitel and Chicago!

Le Bar Sofitel Chicago3

Le Bar Sofitel Chicago2

Trays of delicious-looking appetizers were brought to our table by a legion of staff, led by a gentleman in a dark, beautiful suit. Lonnie Giacometti introduced himself as the Director of Restaurant and Bar for the hotel. He gave us a warm welcome and chatted a bit. His kind gesture was appreciated by all.

Le Bar Sofitel Chicago4

The four of us could have stayed in Le Bar for hours. Its comfortable and welcoming vibe, combined with the devilish drinks and scrumptious food, tempted us to cancel our plans for the evening and camp out in their velvet seats. But, alas, reservations and the rest of Chicago awaited.

In a span of just three short hours, I could see what made the Sultan of Swoon croon over Chicago. It’s got my kind of razzmatazz and makes me grin like a clown. Yep, Mr. Sinatra, Chicago’s my kind of town, too.

Featured Photo

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.


  1. AWESOME post! love it and the pictures are parfait! Sofitel Chicago will be psyched about this story. it truly was a wonderful, wonderful hotel.

    cheers – lola

    1. Yes, our honeymoon suite 😉 was très magnifique! It was the perfect place to act as home base for the Windy City Tweetup. I’d definitely love to visit another Sofitel really soon.

  2. So glad you guys had a great time. The Sofitel is a great partner, and they always know how to hook up our first-class members. So jealous we couldn’t be there with you!!

    1. Jetsetter, Lola and I’ll go with you anywhere! You just name the time and place. 😉 I’m not sure if y’all had a hand in our treats. Either way, thank you for everything.

  3. Great pics, especially the food ones! Your experience at O’Hare is one that I’ve never had happen, being early, lol. Love your guys recaps about Friday night. Chicago is an amazing, amazing place!

    1. We missed you on Friday, Aaron, but understand why you couldn’t join. I was shocked about O’Hare, too. It was even pleasant to fly. I guess I caught it on a good weekend.

  4. I was sitting on my computer, just like I am now, on Friday watching the tweets roll in on the Windy City hashtag. It is nice to see a post with pictures and narrative to fill in the gaps. Sounds like a great first night minus the traffic. Our traffic does royally suck.

    1. You really missed out, Ted. It truly was wonderful. I am glad to have met you and for you to have shown me “your” Chicago. You’ll be on the top of the invite list for the next tweetup.

  5. I really enjoyed this post – very descriptive with great pictures! Aaah, the robe, the iPod dock (first thing I look for in hotel rooms 😀 ), the macaroons, LeBar… Sofitel definitely delivered!

    I’m glad you enjoyed ChiTown! I could talk about traffic here for hours, but don’t want to spoil the otherwise wonderful memories of the #WindyCityTweetup! :)

  6. This looks like a great place to stay – and especially to eat. I love the little “packages” on sight – even, if I don’t know what’s in them :). They simply look delicious. I’ll definitely bookmark the Sofitel for any future visit in Chicago.

    1. I think so too, Monika. The Sofitel really rolled out the red carpet for us, and I imagine they treat all of their guests just as well. Maybe all the treats were special for us, but it just goes to show the power of social media. I say, reach out to whatever hotel and make a connection. You might just get treated extra special. I’d certainly stay at the Sofitel again. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. When a trip starts with friends, a beautiful hotel, goodies, and some free delicious food, how could any city not feel great?! :) looking forward to more about Chicago. It’ pretty high on my U.S. travel wishlist.

  8. It was nice to follow your first steps in the great city of Chicago. You accompanied the post with such lovely pictures. :) I have to say those did the trick. Great combination forming a great post. :)

    1. It was my first visit, but won’t be my last. I’m just glad I wasn’t there this past weekend with the NATO Summit. That would have been nuts! Thanks for stopping by, Samuel.

  9. Well isn’t this post just choc-full of fabulousness?! That may sound sarcastic, but it’s not. It’s jealousy mixed in with awe. The hotel looks fabulous and it sounds like you guys had a great time :)

    1. I like my posts being described as choc-full of fabulousness. That in itself is fabulous! We had a lovely time, but like the entire of our weekend, there wasn’t enough time. C’est la vie.

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