When you live in the greatest city in the world, visitors are inevitable.
College roommates coming in for a Cubs game. Your friends and their three kids on a sightseeing weekend. That guy from Craigslist who promised tickets to Hamilton.
Rule number one? They’re not staying with you. That’s why there’s FieldHouse Jones.
We spoke with Robert Baum, company manager of the new athletic-inspired hotel in River North, about the perfect suite for every possible guest configuration.
“[My wife and I] have three kids. Anytime we travel, it’s pretty impossible to find the right kind of room without spending like a billion dollars on it,” he said. “Our thought was, let’s create rooms here that we would love to come to either as a family or just as a couple or with a group of friends.”
FieldHOuse Jones (2 images)
The name alludes to Chicago’s historic field houses: hubs of recreational, educational and social activity in neighborhood parks that were the first of their kind back in the late 1800s. As for the 11-story-long building itself? It was formerly the Borden Dairy Depot.
These influences first announce themselves in the Wells Pool Station, the two-level main lobby with a swirling overhead sculpture of 400 old-school tennis racquets, vintage scoreboards painted over by local graffiti artist Jas Petersen and an upcoming restaurant/bar/coffee shop. The lower level leads to the real action through what looks like a drained swimming pool; guests can post up at the custom slot-car tracks built by Chris Dadds to race friends and strangers, or head to the game room littered with classics from billiards to shuffleboard.
But we came here for the suites. Below, Baum breaks ‘em down.
For the whole family … The Chamberlain
“If you think of the ultimate big guy, hulking character, who scored 100 points in a game — that’s [Wilt] Chamberlain. We used that [inspiration] for this room because it has probably 18-foot ceilings. Super tall, unlike pretty much anything else that you’ve seen around. It has views of the Hancock building and of the city. It feels like a gigantic lofted apartment.” The amenities in said loft? Custom triple height, full-size bunk bed system as well as a queen bed in its own sleeping nook. Vintage Baughman couch shipped from Miami. And a kitchen, dining area, extra large bathroom and 75-inch TV to round it out.
For the college roommates or all the siblings ... The Fleetwood
“My wife and four of her friends came in town and they stayed there one night. And it was great ... everyone has their own big bed instead of being stuck in a small little bed or sharing beds.” To be exact, this one has six beds: two full-size bunk beds in a sleeping nook and one twin-size. It’ll be like old times, except you won’t be subjected to the midnight reminiscing. Unless of course you want to — there’s plenty of space.
For the friends or siblings with a whole mess of kids … The VanLier
“Our thought was you have four beds in one room (two twin bunk beds) and what’s called the ‘master bedroom’ that has either a full- or queen-size bed. Then there’s a living room area that has a couch that can fold out into a full-size bed … it’s basically like renting an apartment.” In other words: an apartment that can comfortably fit seven people, all with their own beds. And without the hassle and inconvenience of an Airbnb or the expense of other accommodations. The walk-in shower’s not bad either.
For the smaller family or group with the one guy who saws logs … The Bowerman
“[Bill Bowerman] was one of the founders of Nike, with Phil Knight.” And they’re not going to slap that name on just any ol’ room. The Bowerman is the one bedroom version of the VanLier, with all the same amenities. The one master bedroom has a queen-size bed, for the parents or the guy who snores, and there are two twins in the main room.
For the grandparents or aunts and uncles who don’t like any “funny business” … The Trailblazer (full), Windrunner (queen), All-Star (double full)
Here we’ve got the conventional hotel room setup, perfect for family members who enjoy the simple pleasures or grandpa who’d take one look at a bunk bed and mutter about beatniks taking over. And with pennants on the walls and locker style compartments, he’ll be just fine. Titles ring a bell? “The names of these rooms, and all that sort of stuff, I stressed for a long time … Most of the trophy rooms are different sneakers ... The Trail Blazer is a classic Nike shoe. The Windrunner is a classic running shoe … the All-Star is like the most ubiquitous shoe around.” As a self-professed sneakerhead, Baum will also be displaying vintage kicks in the lobby (yes, they’re for sale).
No visitors on the horizon? Not to worry. FieldHouse Jones is expanding as we speak, with their main lobby restaurant coming in the next few weeks, as well as a speakeasy called the Janitor’s Closet (“a beer and shot bar”) nestled back by the slot-car tracks.
So when the gang eventually arrives, you know where to send them for that Midwestern hospitality.