The Wellness Guide to Chicago

Words by Amber Gibson

  • Photos of Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago courtesy of the hotel.

    Photos of Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago courtesy of the hotel.

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Maybe the only thing Chicago loves more than its sports teams is its food. The iconic American city has been hosting the James Beard Awards (basically the culinary Oscars in America) for several years now, and although it might be best known for steakhouses and deep-dish pizza, there are plenty of healthy eats, too—and lots of fun, active ways to explore. Locals are friendly, the architecture is gorgeous, and the city is divided up into many diverse neighbourhoods that are easily accessible via public transportation. Here are some suggestions for how to experience all that Chicago has to offer—without sacrificing your commitment to your well being.


Even in hotels with nice gyms, sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to fit in a workout. But when you’re in the Vitality Suite at Swissotel, you’ve got accessibility like no one else. This one-of-a-kind suite encompasses five rooms and has its own private gym, including a Peloton bike and a rowing machine. Complimentary healthy refreshments are included along with a meditation experience by Sara Auster.

For something more budget-friendly, there are three Five Feet to Fitness rooms at the newly-renovated DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago–Magnificent Mile. You’ll have 11 pieces of exercise equipment at your fingertips, plus a selection of core, strength, and interval workouts led by a virtual trainer. With sessions as short as 10 minutes, you can always find time to squeeze in some exercise between meetings or museum visits.


Exhale has a Chicago location with the best barre and yoga classes in town, plus a new floating meditation class, if that’s more your thing. It’s conveniently located within walking distance to the best hotels in town (insider tip: since Hyatt purchased Exhale, World of Hyatt members earn 10 points per dollar spent there).

Studio Three is a local favourite boutique fitness studio specializing in yoga, cycle, and high-intensity interval training. And with a sleek new studio, Yoga 2.0 builds community (and muscles) with strength and flow classes; relax afterward in the living room while enjoying locally-made vegan raw bars, kombucha, and free WiFi while playing with the resident pups.

For those who prefer to exercise outside, consider a jog or bike ride along Lake Michigan. The 18.5-mile-long Chicago Lakefront Trail is a beautiful way to see the city’s parks and beaches.


Visit Elina Organics for organic, holistic solutions to all of your skincare needs. This small, independent spa in the Gold Coast area is a true hidden gem, featuring products handmade by founder Elina Fedotova. Ingredients like marine collagen, wild mushrooms, fruit enzymes, and probiotics nourish and detoxify the skin, while lymphatic drainage and microcurrent face-lifting treatments leave you looking radiant.

Boss Hair Group is the perfect stop for a new haircut, colour, or style before that big work dinner. The independent salon has some of the most talented and friendly staff in the city, and uses products that are as natural and healthy as possible—including Evo and Oway—packaged in refillable glass jars.


Everything at The Little Beet Table is gluten-free, but the chocolate chip cookies are so good that you’d never be able to tell. The vegetable-forward menu at this restaurant includes watercress guacamole, charred cauliflower with green curry, and a crispy spirulina rice bowl along with creative mocktails.

Or there’s Pacific Standard Time, which is one of this writer’s favourite restaurants in the city for its light but flavourful food. Share a wood-fired pita or pizza to begin, along with brightly-dressed market crudo, before devouring tempura-fried soft shell crab, whole branzino, and coal-roasted vegetables. This is vibrant, nourishing food that won’t weigh you down.

For a treat, visit L.A. Burdick for chocolate bars and bonbons, along with excellent single-origin drinking chocolate that you can try hot or iced. The chocolate mice are almost too cute to eat, and new for summer are refreshing frappés made with fresh fruit.


Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago is the only Forbes five-star spa in the city, and it’s the kind of urban sanctuary that will melt away any worries about the fact that your time in Chicago is drawing to a close. As the name suggests, there’s a heavy Chinese influence on the entire experience, from the thoughtful feng shui design to the questionnaire you fill out in the relaxation lounge determining which natural element (earth, water, fire, or air) most resonates with you at the moment. Begin with a sensory bathing ritual to cleanse the body and spirit, then try a Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment like acupuncture, fire cupping, body gua sha, or moxibustion—or opt for a signature massage to balance your qi. Plan to spend several hours here to enjoy the amenities before and after your service. Trust us, you won’t want to leave.