I hope I have posted this in the correct place. I apologize if I haven't.
We are planning to visit Chicago for the first time with our two children (they will be 4 and 9) in the Spring. We are Gold Members and will be staying on points. Based on the many reviews I have read and also based on location, I believe we have narrowed down our choices to the
Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel (on Wacker) or
Residence Inn Chicago Downtown River North (on Dearborn)
We plan to stay for 5 nights/6 days. The properties are quite close to each other so the location is comparable. We plan to explore the whole city, do all of the 'touristy' things with the kids, etc. I was thinking that due to the length of stay we may be more comfortable at a property like the Residence (even though the kids would be sharing a pull-out). The breakfast offered at Residence doesn't really sway me to stay there as we have so many places we'd like to visit/eat at, we'll most likely use the breakfast buffet as a quick morning 'snack' for the kids to hold them over until we get to a restaurant.
Would love to have your thoughts and opinions.
Thank you so much for your time.
Oh! One more question, if you don't mind. After reviewing our school calendar and also the Chicago Convention Calendar, we are thinking of traveling either thru Memorial Day weekend or possibly waiting until the 3rd week in June. Is there a big difference in the two and if so, when would you recommend?
A few answers to your questions, some of which would be based on your own preferences. I have stayed at both properties.
The renaissance concierge lounge (CL) would let you bring in one guest (like your spouse or one child) but they are getting stricter about one plus one, not one plus 3 (that is gold member plus one guest). The breakfast at the Ren (Mon-Fri) is really good, yoghurts, eggs, fruit, bread and muffin assortment, and evening food (Sun-Thurs) is finger food, but not bad as an appetizer type. Fridge in lounge has water, soft drinks and juices, alcohol is honor bar system. Tip: ask for a mini fridge for your room and bring back yogurt, water, soda, etc and store it in the fridge in your room. The CL people will let you take extras and then you dont need to worry about bringing the kids to the CL. The hotel is on the river at State and Wacker, and the L (or elevated) trains run right behind the building and the underground subways are a short walk on State Street. The hotel is on the south side of the river, and its a short walk to get to the north side (every major north-south street has a bridge) and Michigan Ave is close by, as are certain museums (Art Institute, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium). If you are getting a standard ren room, it may be a bit tight for you and spouse and Kids. They will likely allow only one rollaway. Food options in the area are plentiful.The south side of the river is the more "business" side of the river, so its a little less touristy. The ren has a starbucks basically in the lobby The hotel has a pool
The Residence Inn is nice, bigger rooms, kitchenette (so you can go to a walgreens and get some things to keep in the fridge, etc) but the breakfast food option is much lower in quality (eggs, cooked meats just not of same quality as Ren), but yogurt and whole fruit are good, as is the oatmeal. Coffee is OK, I like the ren's coffee better. Rooms are larger then Ren. You are on the North side of the river (not by much, its just 2 blocks into the north side, in what is called the "River North" area). More touristy. Not as close to the L elevated lines, but walkable, close to Blue line Grand Street subway. I cannot recall if RI has any evening events, but since its in a high rise, expect lots of elevator time to get in and out. I do not think this hotel has a pool, you may want to check.
Seasons: I think it may be a tad warmer in later June, the weather gets nice in May and either time could be a good time to go. Assuming no major conventions, then the season you pick is good. More flowers in bloom in June than Memorial day.
if you come into O'hare or Midway, consider taking the train (Blue from O'hare, Orange from Midway). You would need to buy a Ventra Card (a tap to pay for the bus and trains). Go to the Chicago Transit website CTA Mobile
and see what you may wish to do for transit around the city
also, check out Chicago Citypass, it might save you some money depending on how you use it and whether it has value to you. Official Chicago CityPASS® | Visit 5 Chicago Attractions for $96
Let me know if you still have questions, I would be happy to answer them