Review: Soho House Chicago

We recently caught up with Folabi Quadri, owner of Hollywood-based production company TQG Studio, who treated us to a tour of the Midwest outpost of Nick Jones’ Soho House portfolio. The House which includes a 40-room hotel, occupies a six-story, 108,000 square-foot converted warehouse on Green Street in Chicago’s Fulton Market District.

The club opened in August 2014 in the heart of Chicago’s foodie scene amidst high profile neighbors like Girl and the Goat, Au Cheval, Next and Aviary and is also conveniently located near the Morgan EL station, giving members and guests easy access to the Loop.

At first glance the Chicago House resembles many other clubs with its exposed brick, distressed wood flooring and elegant vintage decor, however one of the House's most distinct characteristics is its impressive entryway. Unlike the New York Houses which feature dimly lit lobbies and narrow corridors, guests enter the Chicago House to a massive foyer, impressive ceilings, crystal chandeliers and enormous warehouse windows that give way to scores of natural light. Despite this grand lobby, the space maintains its intimate clubhouse appeal as members chat away in various nooks while others type ferociously at their keyboards.

The club’s amenities cater specifically to the needs of its members and deliver spaces designed with creatives in mind. From a coworking floor perfect for hosting client meetings to a music room and 30-seat cinema which can be hired for private screening and events.

For the health and wellness obsessed, this location features a state-of-the-art fitness center that blends a rustic touch with modern equipment like only Soho can. The 15,000 square-foot facility includes cardio machines, a solid range of weights, two group training studios and a boxing ring that looks like it came directly from the set of a film. Members and hotel guests can also enjoy access to steam rooms, lounges and a Cowshed spa offering a full range of facial and body treatments. I had the opportunity to experience one of the rainforest showerheads and Cowshed products and can attest it is in fact life changing.

When it comes to dining, Soho Chicago has no shortage of options. On the ground floor alone are three restaurants which are also open to non-members; Chicken and Farm Shop, The Allis, and Fox Bar. For a more private affair members can take their guests up to the house kitchen on the club floor which serves a menu featuring locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. And if it’s casual drinks, light bites and an upscale setting you’re after, you’ll want to head up to the roof.

The Soho rooftop is easily the House’s crown jewel. The elevators open to a sprawling indoor-outdoor lounge area which includes a 60-foot swimming pool and panoramic views of the Chicago Skyline. On one side of the venue a DJ sets the vibe with some light beats while members and guests mingle at the bar across the room.

Folabi and I sipped our cocktails, catching up on travels and production stories while observing Chicago’s fashionable creatives from a pair of armchairs near the pool. Every now and then he'd point out a talented photographer or an artist he was hoping to book and casually return to our conversation.

What he would later explain is that at the surface level, Soho offers its members an array of exclusive, luxury amenities in some of the world’s most influential cities. However, the club’s real value lies in the access it grants to a network of hungry and talented creatives in each of these influential cities. It’s within Soho walls that ideas are born and collaborations spawned. And with the addition of a Midwest outpost, Folabi and TQG Studio can more easily tap into a pool of creatives from which came the likes of Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Chance the Rapper, Lupe Fiasco and Common, just to name a few.

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