I was pleasantly surprised by the Intercontinental Chicago, as it is quite a nice property in the middle of the Magnificent Mile. Its excellent location alone makes it one of the best options for anyone who wants to have immediate access to Michigan Ave.
But location alone can't earn a great review for a hotel. Thankfully, the Intercontinental Chicago seems fairly aware that they need to work at being the top choice for tourists coming to the city, and they certainly do their best.
The check-in was fairly painless, with my only complaint being with the snafu in securing a room with a king-sized bed. The perils of booking through Priceline always carry the possibility of being booked in a room with two double beds if that’s what the hotel decides to give you, which is what happened here. I understand the risk, but they asked me to pay an additional $35 for a room with a king-sized bed. Since I had already stayed in a different hotel the previous four nights with my girlfriend in a room with two double beds (as a result of the same Priceline problem), I hesitantly agreed to pay it, since it was only for one night here and we wanted to finally sleep in the same bed.
As much as I want to complain about $35 seeming steep to get a change of bed preference, it appeared they upgraded us to a deluxe room, which was quite nice. The room was in the historic tower, and had windows in three different directions, making for a spectacular view.
While a lot of modern hotels are heading in a more minimalist direction with their decor, this hotel isn't afraid to show some elegance and class. It has certainly retained the look of an older historic hotel, yet glossed over with certain modernizations to really pop out. Whether it's the lobby, the rooms, the pool or wherever, it does all have a luxurious look and feel to it.
The room was quite nice and clean. My only complaint in the way of cleanliness was when I laid back on the bed and felt a tangled clump of hair behind one of the decorative pillows. It probably came out of a woman's hairbrush, but it's not exactly the most sanitary thing to find in your room. Otherwise, everything else appeared to be in good order in the room.
The pool is really a highlight in this hotel, given the grandiose nature of the room it's located in. The spectator seats seem out of place, but I assume there's a story behind that. My main problem with the pool is that the hotel seems to be more focused on keeping the pool for exercising purposes, when really most people that visit the pool are not there to swim laps. It's simply not realistic to believe that guests won't have kids that will want to play and splash around in the pool. For some kids, that's almost the highlight of the trip!
Despite them dividing the lanes with barriers, my girlfriend and I still got in one of the lanes and just floated around for a bit to relax after a long day of walking. We weren't preventing anyone from working out, so it didn't harm anything. I also saw a woman bringing her kids in as we were leaving, so I don't think it's a huge deal if you hang out there with no intention of tapping into your inner Michael Phelps. Just keep in mind that the pool doesn't have anything exciting in the way of slides, diving boards or any other kid-friendly additions.
My biggest annoyance with this hotel is its lack of free wi-fi. Since I refuse to pay for internet at a hotel in addition to my nightly rate, I was unable to access my online map of Chicago on my laptop where I had bookmarked various places we wanted to visit. This was a fairly large inconvenience for me, so this is probably the biggest gripe I have that keeps me from giving this hotel a 5-star review.
As for the staff, they are extremely friendly and accommodating. I will single out the bellhop as being particularly friendly, despite being extremely busy. We stowed our bags there after checking out and came back to pick them up when we were ready to go to the airport. The main bellhop answered my questions about the best way to get to the airport, and then the rest of the bellhop staff helped load us up in the cab when our bags were brought to us. It was a great last impression of the hotel as we parted ways with them and the city of Chicago.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- InterContinental Chicago is a lot like the city itself: historic but hip, refined but relaxed, cultured but comfortable. A member of Michigan Avenue s architectural elite since 1929, our hotel is within easy reach of Chicago s incomparable museums, stores, theatres and restaurants. Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium and Oak Street Beach are minutes away. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Intercontinental Chicago Hotel Chicago
- Chicago Intercontinental