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“This hotel is underrated.”

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The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center
Ranked #153 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Reviewed 19 July 2011

We read a variety of reviews before we decided to stay at The Congress. Once we arrived, we were so glad we chose this hotel in spite of some negative reviews. We were on the 9th Floor with a magnificent view of Lake Michigan and overlooking Grant Park. We were able to view the fireworks that were exploding over Navy Pier from our window. Anyone who appreciates architecture would love this old but elegant historic building overlooking Grant Park and facing the Buckingham fountain. We would go back to this quaint and ideally situated hotel.

  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank mother79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
shaq735, General Manager at The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, responded to this reviewResponded 21 July 2011

Thank you for your comments and i am glad you posted it online. There are reviews posted that we honestly do not agree but reviews keep us informed what our customers saying and give us a chance to improve in areas they identify. this is a 118 years old hotel and has lot of challenges which we address on daily basis. again thank you and hope you will stay with us again soon

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2,194 - 2,200 of 2,857 reviews

Reviewed 19 July 2011

Stayed here recently with family. What's great about it is location. That's basically it. Given the price, this place disappoints in every other way. We got a deal through expedia for a single night, boy do these people know how to have hidden costs. Parking is $28-35 per night. Internet is $7.75 for 15 minutes. Even local calls cost money. Breakfast was not included. Basically if you breathe, you pay money. The foyer area downstairs is gorgeous -- everything else is old, and to be honest quite creepy. I can honestly say I felt more comfortable at a $70 motel out of town than here in terms of atmosphere. The apartments themselves are old, the bedding was comfy but like i said i felt very creepy in the room and hallways, the stairs look original from back in the 1890s when the hotel was built. It literally felt like stepping on the Titanic or something before it sank, in some ways very interesting but as a place to stay overnight just creepy. I would never stay here again.

Stayed: July 2011, travelled with family
Thank Hamster_Huey_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2011

Congress Street is under construction and hard to get to - so take Michigan. There is also an OK place for a cheap breakfast & lunch on the Harrison side of the hotel somewhat attached to the Travelodge. Give yourself time to drop car and pick car up from valet - they are definitely in no hurry to help you on your way.

Room Tip: Arrive at check in time - we were a late arrival and no room available until they found one and was...
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  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank luvwater
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 July 2011

Like I said, I was cautious because of other reviews I had read.

However, because this hotel allowed us to check in at 10 a.m. we went ahead and booked it. We arrived at the hotel at 10:05 a.m. and went to check in. They told us our room wasnt ready and they would refund us the amount we paid for the early check in. I very politely said that was the whole reason we booked there and we needed to check in right now so we could get on with the rest of our plans for the day. The front desk clerk said she would talk with the manager. About 2-3 minutes later they came out, apologized, and said they had a room. I thanked them and continued checking in. As we were finishing the paperwork, the clerk informed me she had upgraded us to a Jr. Suite due to the hassle.

We went up to the 6th floor and entered our NW corner room. Upon entering, we saw a very nice suite with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a living room area. Yes, the hotel is very old and in some places shows it's age, however it is a very classy, old hotel. As my wife said, "it added some character to the hotel." We enjoyed our stay completely. Receiving the upgrade was an extra plus.

In regards to the strike and the haunting, we almost always entered the building off of Congress Parkway and never saw picketers there. The one time we did enter from Michigan Ave., we saw about five picketers, but had no problems walking around them. As far as haunting, dont know if this has anything to do with that, but at around 1 in the morning, there were 2 VERY loud, forceful knocks either on the wall or the front door. It happened just the one time and we fell asleep. It could have been someone that knocked and then realized they had the wrong room or who knows what it could have been. I can not say.

We would once again take a chance and stay at the Congress Plaza Hotel!

  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank llandeck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
shaq735, General Manager at The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, responded to this reviewResponded 21 July 2011

thank you for your nice commebts. yes there are times when it is difficuilt for us to check in at 10am. i am glad you were upgraded and enjoyes your stay

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Reviewed 16 July 2011

Earlier this month I stayed in the Congress Plaza Hotel for the 3rd time in about five years. I've always liked this hotel. It's an old hotel with a rich history, and has much more personality than newer, swankier hotels.

My first two stays at the Congress Plaza were fairly uneventful. This last time was a bit different.

When I checked in I was assigned to room 1190. I took my luggage to the 11th floor, got off the elevator, and checked the sign posted on the wall that would tell me whether my room was to the right or to the left. My room didn't fall into either sets of numbers. I wondered if I had taken the wrong elevator. Maybe some rooms could only be accessed by certain elevators, so I went back down to the first floor and immediately found someone who worked at the hotel. I explained what had happened and that my room didn't seem to be up there. She laughed quietly and said, "Oh, it's up there." Then she got on the elevator with me (which was a bit surprising), we got off on the 11th floor, and I pointed out that my room number wasn't included in the range of numbers on the sign outside the elevator door. She didn't seem surprised, and told me to follow her. She walked me down to a short little hallway, at the end of which was room 1190. There were no other rooms with room numbers down this little hallway but 1190. I thought it was a bit curious that the room seem to be a bit tucked away, but certainly wasn't alarmed by it. I never would have thought about the entire things again, if it weren't for what happened the following night.

The first night at the hotel was completely uneventful. I fell asleep, woke up, and went to the one-day workshop I was in Chicago to attend. At that workshop, I was given a name tag that said "Jennifer" on it -- even though I go by Jenny. (This is relevant to the story, so bear with me...) A colleague of mine also stayed in the Congress Plaza Hotel with me (on the 7th floor), and she called me Jenny during the course of the workshop, but everyone else went by my nametag.

My colleague and I returned to the Congress Plaza Hotel that evening completely exhausted. At about 10:30 I got into bed and turned off the light. About 10 minutes after I turned off the light, someone knocked on my door. It alarmed me, to say the least. My colleague and I both had cell phones and were constantly texting and calling one another, but I didn't think she would come up without letting me know she was coming first. And besides, she didn't know what room I was in! So that ruled her out. I decided that someone had the wrong door and just lay there frozen in bed, wishing they'd go away. After they knocked maybe five times, a man's voice said, "Jenny." My blood froze. It was not a voice a recognized. And the tone and intonation the voice used was forceful. It wasn't someone coming to see if I was up -- or if I was in the room. There was no rise in intonation at the end of my name, as though asking a question. The voice said my name three times, knocked again, and then left.

When I was able to get myself to move, I walked really slowly to the door and looked out the peephole. There was no one there. Then I went into the bathroom and turned the light on. (I didn't want to turn the light on in the room b/c I didn't want this person to see the light under the door.) I texted my colleague, asking her if she was awake. She didn't respond. So I went ahead and called her. (I was freaked out enough that I didn't really care if I woke her up.) When I told her what had happened, we both agreed that I should call the front desk. When the woman at the front desk answered the phone, I told what had happened and asked if there was any reason that the hotel would give my room number to anyone. She assured me they wouldn't. Then she said something that seemed curious to me -- much more so with time, as I thought it about it more. She said, "We need to get you a room on a different floor." I agreed, although I thought it was odd that she was so quick to suggest it. She said that she would have a bellman come help me change rooms. So I got dressed, hastily packed, and waited for the bellman to come. He help me move to a room on the 7th floor -- the same floor that my colleague was on.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep much that night. I couldn't think of any logical explanation for what had happened. NO ONE at the workshop we attended was staying in the same hotel. And we didn't tell anyone at the workshop where we were staying (let alone in what rooms). Besides, no one at the workshop would have called me Jenny. And I was registered at the hotel as Jennifer, too.

My colleague and spent all of breakfast trying to come up with logical explanations for who could have been at my door. But the only thing we could come up with was that there was another Jenny staying on the same floor and a man had the wrong door. But that just didn't seem very likely.

On the way home, we spent much of our time on the Internet looking more into the haunted reputation that the Congress Plaza has. There was plenty to read. Then my colleague came across this posting -- http://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/hp935/a_night_in_the_congress_plaza_hotel/
This woman also had an unexplainable experience on the 11th floor. In fact, almost all of the strange stories we came across that happened in guest rooms seemed to occur on one of the top floors of the hotel.

I don't know who was at my door. But so many strange things surrounded the incident -- I was in a room that was a bit hidden way, I had not told anyone my room number, no man I had talked to that day knew I went by Jenny, and the woman at the front desk seemed eager to get me off that floor... I don't know. I can tell you one thing, though. I don't think I'll ever stay there again.

Stayed: July 2011, travelled on business
13  Thank Oneida67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 July 2011

Came here for the last leg of our trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, and boy, did this place disappoint. When you walk in, you are greeted by an absolutely gorgeous foyer and reception area, and you can easily see that this was once a grand luxury hotel.

For us, this quickly faded when we were shown to our room. Upon entering the bathroom, there was filth on top of the toilet, which came from a leak from the room above. While we tried to turn on the TV to await a visit from hotel maintenance, it wouldn't go on. When I called the front desk once again to tell them about this, they told me it would be a while for someone to get up there, to which I responded, "Well, do you have another room that isn't filthy and in which the TV works?" That elicited quite the chuckle as if these problems were amusing.

Came back later that evening and asked the concierge if they could arrange for a cab to pick me up at 4 am as I had a 6 am flight. I was told that no, they couldn't do that, and go to the front desk for the number for a cab. I've never encountered such lazy service at a supposedly high-end hotel. After that exchange, I decided that I'd be wise to stay up and not rely on them for a wake-up call in case they decided that that would be too much. Instead, I decamped in the hotel bar, which was nice and well-appointed and seemed to be the only thing in this place that worked as it should.

Stayed: July 2011, travelled with friends
Thank MKB1701
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
shaq735, General Manager at The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, responded to this reviewResponded 12 July 2011

Thank you for posting your comments. I am very concerned about your experience and will address all the issues with our staff. i will use your comments to better train front of the house staff in customer service. i hope you will stay at Congress plaza Hotel again and i am sure you will find it to be more hospitable and enjoyable. again thank you for staying at Congress Plaza Hotel

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Reviewed 11 July 2011

My wife and I stayed here over the 4th of July, and I'd definitely recommend it, unless you're really picky. Which it seems a lot of people are. Fair enough. It's a free country where everyone's entitled to their opinion. This is mine. I'm reminded of a point that I've heard Authur Fommer make: "When the lights are turned out, every hotel room looks the same." His reasoning was that you're in the room to sleep. He also encouraged the notion that the room should be a good value. is the Congress Plaza perfect? No. But did the imperfections affect the rest that I got or the fact that I could clean up each morning and be ready to enjoy myself. Big NO. I was in Chicago to really enjoy what Chicago had to offer, and enjoy Chicago I did. And the Congress Plaza played a part in that enjoyment because of it's location. That was perfect! I've stayed in very few places where I didn't have to adjust to something about the place that wasn't perfect. Those things never spoiled what I was in town for, to have a good time! For example, the Congress is a huge property. Hot water heaters aren't a few feet from your room like they are at your house. In such a large facility, hot water has to come from a ways away. OK, adjust. Let the cold water run for a few minutes and you'll get scalding water if you want it. The only thing that I might agree on with those people who gave 1's is that there's no excuse for the desk personnel to be anything but cheerful and accomodating. That doesn't cost anything, and it goes a long way to mitigating complaints and making people feel better about their experience. But those 1's are way out of line. At worst this place is a 2. Those people who gave 1's must not have stayed in a place that was a real 1. I actually would give the Congress a 3.5 if I could. That would include a 5 for location!! Is it OK to stay here? Absolutely! Unless you're picky. It's a free country. Enjoy Chicago!!

  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank oldhickory5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
shaq735, General Manager at The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, responded to this reviewResponded 12 July 2011

Thank you for your kind comments and appreciate you taking the time to detail your experience. We continue to renovate this old GEM and hope we will bring it back to its old glory. it will take time as you know it is a huge propert. again thank you for staying at Congress Plaza Hotel

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Additional Information about The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center

Address: 520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605-1602
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Illinois > Chicago > Downtown / The Loop
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #153 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Price Range: £58 - £166 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center 3*
Number of rooms: 851
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Step inside and experience an extraordinary piece of living history during your next visit to downtown Chicago at the Congress Plaza Hotel. This "Landmark of Chicago Hospitality" has delighted business and leisure travelers for over a century. Guests at the Congress Plaza Hotel can explore art institute, millenium park, buckingham fountain, magnificent mile,museum campus all with in walking distance just by stepping outside our front doors. Situated adjacent to Grant Park, our 14-story property is located along Michigan Avenue, providing unlimited access to the city's finest retail stores, the bustling business district and Chicago attractions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Congress Plaza Chicago
Hotel Congress Plaza
Congress Hotel Chicago
Congress Plaza Hotel Chicago

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