History of Hotel Nikko Chicago


The Westin Chicago River North started life as the Hotel Nikko Chicago in 1987. In 1997, the Westin branch of the Starwood Hotel chain bought the property from its Japanese owners. While changes have been made to the hotel over the years, it still holds a bit of its original Far East ambiance.


Construction on the hotel was started in 1986 and completed the next year, and it had its grand opening on Oct. 8, 1987. The cost to build the Nikko was $76 million. Both then-Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and JAL Hotels chairman Yoshio Ishikawa attended the gala event.


The parent company of the Nikko when it opened on Chicago's Dearborn Street was JAL Hotels, a subsidiary of Japan Airlines. The company runs two hotel chains, Nikko Hotels International and Hotel JAL City. When the Westin family of hotels purchased the Nikko in 1997, it immediately began a $10 million renovation.

About the Property

The 20-story hotel has 424 rooms and 17 suites. Thanks to its waterfront location, most rooms have sweeping views of the Chicago River. The hotel is convenient to Chicago's theater district, the financial district and The Loop. The hotel features three restaurants: The Ember Grille, which offers an eclectic menu, and two sushi bars in keeping with its Japanese roots.


A wide variety of features and activities is available at the Westin. These include a workout facility, in-room spa treatments and a full-service spa. Through its "Ready, Set, RunWESTIN" program, the hotel will provide maps of 3- and 5-mile routes for guests who want to experience the area on foot. There is also a Westin's Kids Club on-site to give parents some "grown-up time" together.

In- Room Features

The Westin chain might be best known for its "heavenly bed." Designed to provide a blissful sleep experience, this 13-inch pillow top mattress is covered with 10 layers of comfort, including 250-thread count sheets, feather and down pillows and a down blanket and duvet. The bed has proved to be so comfortable that Westin offers all its components for sale on its website.

Chicago Skyline

The Westin is a fixture on the Chicago waterfront, often being singled out on architectural Chicago river tours as a model of contemporary design. It shares the skyline with architect Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City complex and the IBM Tower designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Fun Facts

Weddings at the Westin can be held in either of their two ballrooms--the elegant Astor Ballroom or the larger Grand Ballroom, with its access to an outdoor terrace overlooking the river.

The Westin Chicago River North was featured as part of the Gotham City Skyline in the 2008 Batman film "The Dark Knight."

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