The trick to finding a decent place to stay in Chicago is figuring out what you’ll be doing while in the city. If you’re headed to a Bears game, for example, a stay at one of the many options along South Michigan Avenue - like The Congress Plaza, or the Hilton Chicago - is probably your best option.
On the other hand, if you’ll be spending your time mostly north of the river, traversing the Magnificent Mile, you’d be better off staying at a place like the InterContinental, Chicago Marriott Downtown, the Westin Chicago River North, or Hyatt Place Chicago/River North.
And it was the latter, the Hyatt Place Chicago/River North, that was my home base for a night during a recent trip to Chicago. Crystal and I stayed there for just one night for free by using my annual rewards night that I get for having the Hyatt Credit Card.
On their website they call it a “modern style hotel in downtown Chicago.” And it is. The lobby is full of modern decor.
When you walk in, you’ll find a little lounge/hangout/good place to do some work to your left. When we walked in, it was very crowded. The check-in desk is directly in front of you. The two of us didn’t check into the hotel until after 8 o’clock in the evening (#AirlineIssues or something), but the lady working at the front desk was very friendly and got us situated quickly.
Safety and security
The key cards were not only for the room, but also for the elevator. You need to swipe it once you step inside before you can push the button for the floor you’re staying on. They also had, what looked like, a security guard or two in (or near) the lobby too.
We stayed in a standard room with a king size bed, and a sofa bed. The layout of the room was pleasant. You walk in with the bathroom up front. The little sitting area/family room just beyond that, and the bed and closet on the far side of the room next to the big window. The rooms looked recently updated. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed.
The devilish details
I’ve talked about this before.
The one issue I had was the cleanliness of the bathroom. And I don’t mean I found dried pee on the toilet seat (though that would be unsettling too). Crystal and I were disgusted with the condition of the shower. It was covered in mold. It looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in months.
Well, I tweeted out a picture and it got the attention of the hotel pretty quickly. First, the hotel’s assistant general manager, Judson, ended up reaching out to me and he said that this was “totally unacceptable and I will handle this internally as to such a defect.” He went on to award me 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, and ask if he needed to comp a parking fee.
I also got a call from the head of housekeeping asking if we needed to switch rooms. As we were checking out later that day, I said no. She was even willing to move us into a new room just to take a shower.
Later that evening I met Judson and we talked for a good 15 minutes. As far as this situation goes, the hotel staff handled it very well. I’m confident they cleaned the shower (and possibly all the hotel showers) that day.
The HP Chicago/River North offers complimentary breakfast 7 days a week, located in the restaurant off the lobby called Ema. I found this to be very convenient. Sometimes starting your day off with breakfast while on vacation can take hours away from things you want to see or do. When a hotel offers breakfast (free, too!), it gives you a chance at starting your day off stress free. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
We did end up eating at Ema as well. It is a Mediterranian-style restaurant with food cooked by someone named CJ Jacobson (they throw his name around like I'm supposed to know who that is, but, I don't. Sorry, CJ). It was a bit pricey, but not too bad. If you're up for some small dishes that cost $12-$17 each, give it a try. Otherwise, you have plenty of other options within walking distance of the hotel.
I would stay at this hotel again. Yes, we had a problem with the shower, but that was handled, and if we were staying longer, they would have probably moved us into a new room with a clean shower. And then when you consider the good location, free breakfast, nice atmosphere, and wonderful service, it is almost a no-brainer. If you’re staying in Chicago, this should certainly be on your list of potential hotel stays.
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