I'm quite surprised that there is not one Chicago property listed under the Ratings and Reviews tab. It will be nice when Marriott decides to roll out all Marriott properties to the Ratings and Reviews tab here on Insiders. In the meantime, I'd love to read Insiders thoughts regarding their Chicago stays: Why you've chosen your respective properties, and what you like about them. I am thinking about a maiden trip to the Windy City, and need to choose a property. For me, aside from a nice, professional staff and up-to-date property (not shabby), I think my main concern would be proximity to easy public transportation, including to/from ORD. I've heard that a car isn't necessary when visiting Chicago. Also, with so many good eateries, delis and markets available to purchase or dine on morning nutriment, a CL isn't really a requirement for me either. I look forward to reading your reviews, and many thanks in advance!
Between visiting my daughter, business partners, and catching my annual Cubs/Nats game, I'm usually up there about 12-15 nights a year. I'll get the ball rolling with quick notes and then if necessary, add some thoughts after others have chimed in.
My favorite Chicago property is The Renaissance Downtown on Wacker Ave. - superb service, easy walk (in decent weather) to Gold Coast to the Loop (meaning you can cover most of the area). Take the blue line from O'hare to Clark/Lake and you're within four blocks.
Drawback - it's priced accordingly
I really like the Blackstone Renaissance and it's Mercat a la Planxa restaurant - but for first visit - probably a bit too far south.
Marriott Magnificent Mile - requires a transfer to red line, but doable (can be headache with boatload of luggage). Great for being in the middle of everything. Rooms are small 250-290 sq. ft., hotel has active lobby (good or bad depending on attitude). Service can be hit or miss. Can sometimes get unusually attractive rates - keep an eye out up to the date of departure.
Here's my sleeper pick - the combined SpringHill/Residence Inn. Take blue line to Clark/Lake cross Chicago River a couple blocks up on your left. This is my favorite hangout when it's modest to low occupancy which combines with terrific rates (just finished a $68 week). Near all sorts of fine restaurants - Weber, Rick Bayless Frontera Grill & Topolobambo, Joe's Crab etc etc. Within two blocks of Chipotle, Potbelly, Rock Bottom Brewhouse for good lunches. A quick walk around corner to Grand Red Line gets you out to Wrigleyville for a game or some Improv. etc etc (Depaul U). For example: Check out Thanksgiving week for what I'm talking about - $90 SpringHill Sun - Thursday (which is a great day to fly, BTW). Excellent breakfast at both (mgr reception at RI), four free papers Trib,Sun, WSJ, USA Today, (24 hr. good coffee), very personable staff. In SpringHill, ask for a room on the Northeast side of building (mine is 2524) and you'll get a great view of the city, Lake Michigan and a slice of Chicago River. Depending on season, you're of course near the river and it's riverwalk restaurants and entertainment. You're young enough to make it to the Navy Pier also. Harry Caray's, House of Blue's, Howl at Moon dueling pianos bar provide 100 yards away fun. Easy walk downtown to Mich. Ave. and all that it offers. The original Lettuce Entertain You concept Ed Debevic's is just down the street - fun burgers etc. Here's the catch - near the fire/rescue. It doesn't bug me, but if you're a light sleeper - oops.
Ok, that will get it going, I've been to all of the downtown props (except my self imposed boycott of CY), but I'll let others sing their praises/attributes.
And remember check out http://www.goldstar.com/chicago/events for activity deals (I save $25 or more a trip - plowed back into food!)
The O'Hare SpringHill Suites is terrific (Cat. 3 for weeknights - <$100 on weekends) - great service, with shuttle. If you need it at one of the ends of your trip. I've actually stayed there and ridden the 45 minute blue line to downtown on some trips and yes, once again, took the savings and invested it into fancy $$$$ meals (hey, I'm noticing a trend here - don't tell my cardiologist).
Thanks so much for taking the time to provide such detailed information. I spent a couple of hours analyzing the various downtown properties, and my top 5 faves look to be:
North or else “at” the river:
Chicago Renaissance Downtown
Residence Inn/Downtown River North
Marriott Downtown/Magnificent Mile
South of the river:
JW Marriott – Looks magnificent
Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel – Looks oh so ultra cool with a great back story.
As I mentioned above, my highest priorities are proximity to the “L” as well as good “strolling” streets, and just the sort of attractive styling within the hotel that jives with my own sense of style. They’re all fairly pricey in May, and if I was to use points, I’dprobably just go with the most “bang for the buck” (although I can’t believe how inexpensive
they are right now in January. Unbelievable.)
You mentioned that Marriott Mag. Mile requires a transfer to the red line. That doesn’t sound too difficult. When you walk to the RI from the Clark/Lake station, are there pedestrian sidewalks on the bridges (Clark or Dearborn?) Also, it seems like the Blackstone would have easy access to anywhere in town as well, with one transfer to the red line. Public transit to the JW looks a bit tricky however, as the brown line only goes in one direction it looks like, and the transfer station from the blue to the brown doesn’t seem to be in the right spot for that. (although I don’t suppose that too many guests who stay at the JW would use public transportation for their hotel arrival/departure!) I love to walk everywhere whenever possible, as I don’t want to miss a thing (by riding on a train in a tunnel or underground), but both of my traveling companion prospects are non-walkies (and a visit would be predicated on whether or not I can get one of them to come with me).
What an amazing place Chicago seems to be.
The walk from Clark/Lake is very easy (especially in May). As long as you get headed in the right direction (you come out in an office lobby - feel free to ask if necessary), I would recommend walking north two blocks on Clark - toward the River and making a right turn on Wacker (a more scenic route) and then a left on Dearborn, which yes has a pedestrian sidewalk across the bridge (when crossing pay attention to all of the restaurants/clubs down below on the riverwalk). The hotel is two blocks up Dearborn on your left.
The transfer (to get to Mich.Ave Marriott) over to the red line from the blue from O'Hare is all underground and you are correct is not that difficult and quite frankly now that I think about it, if you can make it from the terminal to the Blue Line at O'Hare (a bit of a haul no matter what terminal) you can easily handle this transfer. The Marriott and the SpringHill/RI are about equi-distant to the Grand red line stop.
If you're considering the Blackstone (and I think you would enjoy the property - it also has a Starbucks, and an art gallery on the 5th or 6th floor - worth visiting) go on to Trip Advisor and get the name of the person responding to reviews (it changes) and call the hotel and speak to them, schmooze them and ask for, if at all possible a lakeview room - lovely (we were fortunate enough to have a corner room over the 4th last year and watched the fireworks at the Navy Pier from our room and Buckingham Fountain is lit up at night also. The red line is also another easy walk. Good meals nearby at Tamarind (asian fusion) and of course Lou Malnati's (Chicago Deep dish and pasta), along with Mercat. Pleasant walks early morning for you before your pals wake up throughout Grant Park - could watch the sunrise (but tough for you west coasters on central time, easy for us east coasters).
And again - I can't stress enough to consider goldstar (no, I'm not a partner) for a lot of sightseeing stuff that you would do anyway, with savings, like the hop on hop off or the architectural tours on the river etc. And yes, several fun breakfast spots near each of the above properties. Enjoy
Erc ... I am glad that I have already booked the Renaissance Downtown for our stay ... your recommendation is glowing! Thanks for giving us the airport transfer line and the station ... I was going to have to look that up. I love that train ride into the city from O'Hare ... so much easier than a cab if you have limited baggage.
I've stayed at the CY at 30 East Hubbard more than anyplace else, and it just works. A block & a half from the Red Line (all my clients can be reached on that) and only two stops (IIRC) from the Loop. Not overly expensive since it's north of the river, across the street from an amazing oyster/seafood place (Shaw's Crab house), and walking distance from a surprising selection of good eats, including—if this fits your definition of good—the Billy Goat. All in all, I've never had a displeasing stay there.
Nearby restaurants: Chicago restaurants near the Courtyard Chicago Downtown/River North
Even though it's not on my list above, the CY on Hubbard actually appealed to me as well. The rooms look very nice and comfortable, and it looks just that much more proximal to the "L" than the RI/SHS grouping. The only thing that the RI has over the CY in my mind is lower pricing as well as a free breakfast. But again, with so many great eateries and markets/delis to grab morning food, in this case I can't see that the CY would be a bad choice, since - as a tourist - I wouldn't want to miss out on the Chicago food experiences, even the morning food in Chicago (especially since food purchases at the CY's don't gather points!)
Thank you for your input.
erc and JK,
I really like the way you "Layered " the recommendations by price and location!
Having good/bad experiences at The Marriott (Michigan Ave.) I would not go back.
The RI/SHS combo was excellent, so watch for the price break here!
Given the budget, The Renaissance is a "Hands down winner"! Scenic, well located, and very comfortable!
Thank you. There seem to be a lot of praise on this site for the Ren., and it is duly noted. The photos of the Mag. Mile Marriott show it's styling to be a tad bit splashy and unsubdued, perhaps? Would you mind sharing your experiences - both positive and negative - with that property?
GABill, and stlzer are most correct!
So much depends on your budget and personal needs. I don't care for the Marriott M.M. is too inconsistent, if I new I was guaranteed an nice upgrade, I might consider it. The FF, Ontario and The CY across the street are good on a budget, especially if you are alone. The RI/SHS is fine, if you can get a great rate. (Have stayed at all of these properties, wish I could get around the $50 night to park, but even on points, you have to pay)
The Renaissance is a "Gem", because it has a nice CL, peaceful rooms, and wonderful location. All of the places mentioned can be walked to easily from each other.
I would recommend the "Boat tour", just across the street from The Renaissance, and if you like good steak, Smith and Wollensky's just across the Chicago River!
I also thought the FFI up on Ontario looked a bit boutiquish and trendy (whimsical?) with its modern styling, and the color pairing of the complimentary colors orange and blue, with secondary pairings of the analogous colors green and yellow. Good rates too.
The RI up on Walton looks nice and near the water, but off of the beaten path for non-walkies. I'd love to read a review of both properties from someone.
All: Great recommendations. I lived in Chi Town for 7 years for my Company, and we could walk thru a skybridge from my office (then at Lake and Lasalle) to the Renaissance on Wacker Drive (it was a Stouffers Hotel, Marriott bought that brand and re branded it in the 1990's). Now that I am back on the east coast (for last 12 years), I go back to Chicago 15-20 times a year for business, once or twice to see old friends.
I agree, the Renaissance is the best. I have stayed at the Marriott on Mag Mile when I had a client project in the Hancock Building, easy walk. I have stayed at the Blackstone, but it is really far south of the loop, its good if you want to be near the Art Institute and Buckingham Fountain/Millenium Park, but it is far from the rest of town/ transit. It is a short cab ride to the convention center, but its close to Soldier Field if you want to catch Da Bears playing football.
I dont stay at Courtyards anywhere in the world due to those issues others have reported on breakfast, coffee, etc.
When I go in the summer with my family, we tend to stay at the Marriott Suites in Deerfield, and that is a really good hotel, and on the weekends its really quiet, family friendly and is close to where we used to live (Wilmette, IL) and is also a short ride to Ravinia, the sunmmer home of th Chicago Symphony. This property is close to a large shopping mall, good restaurants (for the burbs at least) and has a nice pool area.
I have also stayed at the Marriott Linconshire, also in the burbs, but still a nice property.
When I sayed at the Marriott on Mag Mile, I would take the blue line from the airport to Grand and transfer to the 66 bus, that shoots you straight east and leaves you a block from the hotel, but if you have lots o' Luggae, I would not recommend this, as another poster mentioned.
So if you go to Chicago, one of my favorite ciites in the USA, enjoy these great Marriott properties and enjoy the city!
Yes, Ravinia is in Higland Park. Its a right off Lake-Cooke and Green Bay Road
you can see the schedule at www.ravinia.org . Lawn tix are really inexpensive, you can bring a blanekt, or a beach towel and just enjoy the music, or spring for pavillion seats. You can bring in food and do a picnic beforehand or sit and eat during the concert on the Lawn. The local supermakets (Dominick's or Jewel) offer great take away food you can bring in with you. The park also has picnic food you can buy on site, but its more expensive. There are also full serve restaurants on site, but you need an advance reservation and that is pretty pricey. If you go, get there early as parking in the main lot sells out early, then you need to park somewhere nearby and take a shuttle, which can be a pain. If you go, have fun, enjoy the park and enjoy the music.
Having spent a year working in downtown Chicago, and staying at the various properties (both Marriott and others), my nomination would have to be the Marriott on Miracle Mile, This hotel recognizes the MR customers and tries to award them with an upgrade. Typically, you will not even have to ask for one if they are available. However, they are also very popular and sometimes turning people away.
If you do get an upgrade, you may be very surprised, as they will sometimes upgrade the platinum member to the presidential suites (I got ihem 6 different times). That suite is over 2,000 sq ft. in the main room with a seperate bedroom. I finally told them that it was too large for me alone.
Getting to any of the downtown hotels from O'Hare is fairly easy by way of the shuttle bus. It is more expensive than the CTA, but it is not exorbitant, and it will deliver you to the door.
If you are there during a holiday period, you may get treated to a sculpture by their pastry chef. I ahce seen Ice, Candy, and Chocolate sculptures displayed in the lobby. They are larger than life, and exquisite in execution.
Also, the location is excellent for almost anything that you want to do in downtown. The Executive levels are typical for a premium property, and the CL is very nice.
Please bear in mind that my experiences are 5 years old, so things may have changed. However I have found that quality will out.
Congratulations on your Presidential Suite upgrades. That is very impressive. I would love to stay in one of those suites just once in my life (as I would also like to fly first class just once more one day!) Which shuttle are you referring to? Hotel shuttle?