The hotel had an old feel to it. The hotel itself was in good shape, and this certain feel never turned me off or disappointed me, but it was noticeable. I was out and about most of the day exploring the city, and the bed was comfortable enough to fall asleep as soon as I laid on it.
Unique Quality: This has to be one of the most conviently placed hotels if you want to see the city. Millenium and Grant park are within walking distance, and there are Buses very close to get you wherever else you might be headed.
Directions: In front of Grant Park.
Stayed for 3 days 17 - 20 June 2012. The room was big but VERY dirty. There was actually mold in the bathroom! Rooms have not been updated (or cleaned) since 1950. Description on hotel page says complimentary coffee/tea service in room, but don't expect tea at this hotel, was even difficult to get good tea in the restaurant and took 3 days to get any in my room. No refrigerator in room to keep water in (it was in the 90s during our whole stay there). Had to pay $10/day for internet service. Had to pay $39/day for parking which we found out later was more than the price for most of the parking ramps downtown. There was no service whatsoever, the staff was rude and dismissive. Paid extra to have bed "and breakfast" every day. Turned out that was a coupon to the restaurant who treated us like our coupon was food stamps. When we presented the coupon they yanked back the menus and said "oh, you have a CÖUPON, you only get this one choice for breakfast". That made us pretty mad. When we wanted our car, there was never anyone available to get it, or to do anything else we needed either. That's why I would say this is the absolute worst hotel we've ever stayed in anywhere in our many travels around the world.
Unique Quality: The only positive thing to say about this hotel is that the view is great. But there are other hotels with an equally great view and much nicer to stay in. So don't be too taken in by their claims to a good view.
Directions: Grant park area
I stayed in the hotel for a cheerleading competition, IT WAS SO SCARY , we searched the hotel myself & some other cheer friend when we leaned against a mirror it opened! we went into the head quarters (we were being sneakey) & saw a door high up(we opened) i will show a picture,it had good service in all , but when you were walking by your self in the hall ways you do not feel alone.
I absolutely loved my stay in this hotel! My friend and I took a spontaneous trip to Chicago for shopping and site-seeing and were able to book a night for $90 (very reasonable, in our opinion!) through Expedia.com. The hotel is very close to many sites, museums, restaurants, and shops, though if you're looking for someplace close to bars and nightlife, this probably isn't it. Our room was on the top floor (14th) and faced some buildings that, once the sun went down and the lights came on, were absolutely beautiful and I remember thinking, "THIS is Chicago!" The room was a little bit dated, as were some of the furniture pieces in the lounge areas (of which there are MANY), but the place is so massive and magnificent that it's excusable.
The service was AMAZING. Every single person we came in contact with - from the bellhops helping with bags and calling for taxis to the security staff and restaurant employees - was extremely helpful, outgoing, and friendly. In fact, while my friend was still asleep, I decided to wander the hallways and, after reading the history of the Gold Ballroom, asked the manager in the bell services if there were any way he'd be able to show it to us. Not only did he arrange for an associate to unlock the room and turn on the lights for me to take some photos, but the security associate took us on an historical tour of the hotel, taking us to the floors and suites that guests aren't typically allowed to enter. He took us to another ballroom (where Al Capone would hold his poker parties), took us into Al Capone's old suite, and told us ghost stories of each floor and room (I know not everyone buys into this stuff, but we sure did).
The amenities were decent. The gym was run-down and outdated, but I have yet to see a hotel gym that blows me away. The Congress Lounge was great - the bartender was very friendly and made the best tasting drinks I've ever had and even gave us a few free drinks! Not sure why, but we accepted : ). My only complaint is that the Lounge closes at 10:30, though it was a nice spot to stop and have an early drink before heading out on the town. We had our breakfast at the Raphael (I believe that was the name of it) restaurant next to the Lounge and while it was a bit expensive and the menu was limited, it was good food. The water in the showers (we took three in our 24 hour stay at several different times of the day/night) was always warm, the bathroom was large, the room and bed were large, and the TV was brand new.
There WERE a few picketing strikers out front on the morning of our check-out, but they were quiet, friendly, and un-obtrusive.
I've read some of the negative reviews on the hotel and most of them seemed to be about how dated and noisy the hotel seems. As a reminder, this is NOT a Hilton! This is a beautiful historic hotel that should be appreciated for just that. I absolutely loved the charm of the decor in the main lobby, the gilded elevators, ceilings, mirrors, EVERYTHING and would recommend that if you're the type looking for a warm pool, a spa, or a cheap bed to sleep in, this place isn't for you. The Congress Hotel is much more than...a hotel! It needs to be appreciated! As for the noise - this is Chicago! The sirens and trains will be heard no matter WHERE you stay, so this really shouldn't be something that you use to determine your stay.
Unique Quality: Great customer service!
Great historic appeal!
Many reviews on this hotel are rather negative however, it is really not that bad. Probably the main reason that people are disappointed by it is due to the way it is marketed. Because it was once the choice hotel of America's presidents when staying in Chicago, it is advertised as such, so people get the impression that it will be an amazing experience to stay here. Instead, the lobby is quite impressive while the hotel rooms are rather typical of most hotels, so people end up feeling much worse about it than it really is.
I didn't experience any problems during my stay. It costs $9 for 24 hours of internet usage, though. The beds are comfortable, the room size was decent, it was always kept clean, and the staff was helpful! It is also located in an EXCELLENT spot for sightseeing; Grant Park is just across the street!
If you look at it as a historic site rather than a lavish hotel that modern presidents would use, I think you will have a better perspective on the hotel and it won't feel like a letdown when you see your room.
Unique Quality: The hotel was where former presidents, such as Martin Van Buren stayed while in Chicago over 100 years ago. Even if you don't stay at the hotel, if you are in the area, stop in the lobby to look at the interior and see the chair donated by the former President.
Directions: Located across the street from Grant Park at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway.
My visit was ok. not many people about in the daytime.
Unique Quality: near all museums and central. Big train station across the road through a park. Near Navy Peer. Great bars and restraunts near by.
Directions: Near a big train station. will update soon.
We stayed at the Congress Plaza hotel for one night on Saturday 6th December 2008, during a longer visit to Chicago's suburbs. We chose the Congress Plaza because we wanted something reasonably priced, after all it was just for one night and we wouldn't spend much time in the hotel. We made the booking through www.expedia.com, we pre-paid and everything went smoothly with that.
The hotel is located in the southern part of downtown, next to Grant Park and overlooking the lake. It is not the most central hotel, but it is in a safe area and a quick walk to all the local attractions and life. By foot it took us about 15minutes from Ogilvie station.
When we arrived at the hotel we found a picket line of protestors with plaquards marching outside the main entrance. The picketers were polite and unagressive, they did not cause any trouble and only served to highlight their plight, which is also detailed here http://www.congresshotelstrike.info/about.asp. The picketers appear to be protesting about low wages and benefit cuts.
Check-in at the hotel was fast and friendly. The lobby seemed oddly positioned but was pleasantly decorated. We were given a room on the 7th floor. The room did not have a pleasant view, overlooking the roof of the lobby and a corridor on the other side of the atrium, but it was pleasantly decorated and clean, if a little old-fashioned.
All in all the stay was fine, good for the price.
Unique Quality: Longest strike in US history.
Directions: Opposite Grant Park
My problem. Late booking to a convention at the Hyatt and all rooms for anything less than $500 a nite totally sold out. I read all the negative reviews but I had no choice. so I took a shot. The lobby is just as pictured - grand old Chicago - The halls were kind of grungy but the room was a clean well lited place fully, newly tiled bathroom. All the plumbing worked - air conditioner worked fine. Not a huge room but big enough for 2 full sized beds. And I was on the top floor lakeside view - magnificent right at Buckingham fountain. Now I think the following may have contributed to the success - I booked for 2 nights. I booked 4 days in advance and I reconfirmed a late check-in the day before my arrival. I was nice to everybody on the phone - they were nice to me - check in lady same way. AND I booked the reservation through american airlines - by doing this, I may not have scalped the last dollar out of the price - I probably overpaid what priceline would have charged by 20.00 a nite. BUT at $238 I had the best room in Chicago that $238.00 would buy I assure you. Yes there was a strike - better said, there were some "strikers" casually walking in front of the building near the street. I was not hassled in any way by the strikers and in the evening when I came back they were gone. - There may be some bum rooms in this place but I would return. alan456
Directions: right on Michigan avenue across from Buckingham Fountain. The X3 bus (2.00) right across the street takes you to the center of town in 5 minutes or you can walk it in 20
I actually came out of VT retirement to write about this hotel and how losy it was. That is saying something.
Well, let me get to the obvious, I got the hotel for a business trip, and because it was close to where I was at, but that wasn't the sell. The sell was that the hotel was near all the museums, and Michigan Ave. It was near everything in Chicago!
I paid $109 a night for the room, which for city prices is average, but you kind of expect a little more. Here's what I got for my 109 each night.
The room had no pillows! I kid you not, I had to request them. I also had to request an alarm clock, and was greeted with a "You want a clock in your room?" when I called. Yes I want an alarm clock in the room, I would love to know how late I am going to be from missing my wake up time! Really now, is there any hotel in the world where an alarm clock is not standard and desired by the patrons? Oh, and I had to call an electrician to bring me one. But housekeeping did bring me 8 pillows, eventually
Next up was the shower. No hot water, and the hotel shampoo had an unbreakable metal seal. I had to go to the CVS down the block to buy some. I guess that's one way of keeping costs down.
Unique Quality: The building is historic. Many presidents stayed here. All the way back to Gover Cleveland. And the hotel looks it! Hell the wall paper may be from the Al Capone years.
In fact, the building apparently hasn't been really renovated too much (beyond electrical plugs and a new tv) since Theodore Roosevelt held his Bull Moose party's convention here. As such, you can hear through the windows ever car or pedestrian that is below...or within a mile radius. Yes, you can even hear the trains run by, which there are lots. You are situated between an elevated line, and fright tracks. So the trains are actually so frequent that you get used to them after a while, as are the fire trucks, police sirens and ambulances.
As I mentioned, there was no hot water in my room, and it wasn't just the first night but all 4 nights. There was also nowhere to set anything in the bathroom.
If you didn't already feel ripped off, you could go down to the little cafe in the hotel and have a $10 grilled cheese sandwich. I went to the Krogers when I got home, to make the same sandwich at home, with the 4 different kinds of cheeses, would have cost the same for the ingrdients, and on a per/sammich basis would have equalled $1.25 per sammy, and you could have had bunches of them! You also wouldn't have had a burnt one if you made it yourself!
Not my worst hotel experience, but pretty darn close to it.
Directions: Across from the Buckingham Fountains on Michigan Ave.
DO NOT STAY HERE!!!!! After we checked in.. They gave us the wrong directions to our room & we got lost finding what we thought was our room, we finely found what we thought was our room only to find out both keys didn't work to the door.. Well unknown to us they have 2 of the same room no#'s. ARGH Then we wait 30 minutes in the hall for them to send up someone with new keys & no one shows up, we get agravated & went back down to the lobby (that's when we found out they have 2 of the same rooms with the same room no#).. On top of this they didn't have the room I reserved/requested & on top of all this the whole place was terrible, it was old, every thing smelled like curry, it was in terrible shape (the halls, doors, every thing).. Not worth the money & we didn't even get to see the room which we figured was just as bad as every thing else. We just told them to give us our money back & we left. If your looking for a romantic getaway go to the Essence Suites in Orland Park or the Sybaris.. We ended up at the Essence & it was well worth the agravation... Oh & the hotel was on Strike. They had strikers out front. ARGH Terrible Terrible Hotel.. Will not even try to stay here again....
I was booked here for a convention in Chicago. The literature and website stress that it is a historic hotel, built in 1893, which has "catered to our nation's presidents and political leaders, foreign dignitaries, opera, stage, and movie celebrities..." Well, I'm not sure who was the last president to stay here (FDR I think), but today they would probably find better value for their money at one of the other lower-end hotels in the area (e.g. Travelodge, Essex Inn). The immediate impression upon entering the lobby (after crossing the picket line out front - apparently the staff has been on strike for the past 4 years because of low wages!) was dingy, a little too run down. The contrast between the hifalutin names on the conference rooms (Oxford, Buckingham) and the down-market appearance of the halls. There is a sad little workout room languishing in the basement.
The accommodations were adequate: hot water with good water pressure, working A/C. There were numerous small details missing (no condiments with the complimentary in-room coffeemaker, no "Do Not Disturb" card). The adjective the room shouts from every corner is "run-down": wallpaper is peeling at the floor where baseboard is missing. Bathroom tile is a little grimy. Paint is peeling in spots. Maybe the place would look better if they paid their staff better?
Unique Quality: Good location right at Grant Park, walking distance from Millennium Park, the Art Institute and Symphony Hall. Convenient to the "L." High-speed internet access in the room (but no WiFi) and nice flat-screen TV.
Directions: South Loop on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway
The outside and lobby area was very beautiful. We thought our room was going to be really spectacular...but instead it looked like the room actually belong to a run-down, side of the road motel. The bathroom smelled horrible...like there was a sewage problem...yuck.
Bed was comfortable though, and there was a walk in closet. The receptionist was super friendly and help us get on all the right buses.
This is an old hotel, and it shows. The rooms are very old looking, the beds are old looking, the bathrooms are old looking, the hallways are old looking, everything is old looking. However, for the price and the location, its worth it. This is a good place for crashing and storing your stuff when you are in Chicago.
We were lucky enough to be traveling when a bunch of this hotel's employees were on strike. For us, this meant that we had to cross a picket line to enter (they were peaceful and never even said anything), that room service was unavailable...and that the prices were ridiculously low. The service, despite the strike, was impeccable. And the views from the windows were just as amazing as they must always be.
Unique Quality: It's a great upper-class hotel, right in the middle of town, and within a stone's throw of the lake. So far as I understand, a bunch of US Presidents have stayed here, including Thomas Jefferson.
Directions: You know that spot right in the middle of the west side of Grant Park where there's that little circular arc of a road? Right across from that.
There was a strike in my visit but still the rest of the personnel try to help you and I had by chance a very beautiful room at the top floor of the hotel with excellent view of the lake
Hi everyone I will be in Chicago in just 9 days! I currently have reservations at the Essex Inn. I am still checking other hotels in the area and comparison shopping. It looks like the only thing in the same price range is the Congross Plaza Hotel. If I stay at Congress Plaza, overall, it will cost $20.00 more.
I know that it is a lil closer to Grant Park and all of the other "touristy" activities. Any suggestions?
I can only choose between these 2 hotele as I want something less than $100 a night and close to town (Seems these two are as close as I can get for that price)
Essex is $79 a night and Congress Plaza is $85 a night. All help is appreciated! Many thanks!
Workers at the Congress Plaza have been on strike for several years, I don't think I'd change, both are budget hotels so don't have high expectations of either one. The Essex slightly closer to the Museum Campus-Shedd, Field, Adler-both are on Grant Park, unless you are really into walking you'll probably want to take some form of transportation to get up to the Mag Mile. I'd walk it but I like to walk.
Oh and personally I would have a look at Hotrooms.com, Hotwire or Priceline before staying at either of those hotels. It might be too late for your stay but I have friends who have gotten excellent deals on both Priceline and Hotwire and stayed in much nicer accomodations and paid less that you are paying.
Blind bidding isn't for everyone and you really need to check biddingfortravel or betterbidding to make sure you are comfortable with the likely options that you might get. Priceline does not work for more than 2 people, Hotwire does.
I was going to suggest Priceline as well. I recently got a 4-star on Michigan Avenue for $75 a night. After taxes and fees and such, it came to $95 total.
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Address: 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois, 60605, United States