OK, let’s get the bad out of the way – there IS a lot of good for the Palmer; read on.
My wife and I were part of a group of 20 or so that attended a wedding in nearby Springfield over the Holiday weekend, took a train into Chicago and arrived late afternoon. Checked in, dropped our bags in our rooms and went to dinner. Got back and basically went to bed. Next morning, starting to organize things and getting ready for our first Go Chicago tour, I felt something squishy under my foot. Surprise! Dog Poop!!! Found several other “treasures” fully intact out of the normal traffic path in the room. Turns out that The Palmer House is a “pet-friendly” hotel, something none in our group were aware of. I guess it’s a policy going back many decades accommodating famous (and not so famous) guests and their pets. Fine. We notified hotel staff and were moved to a really nice room – same rate. But we almost missed our planned tour with the rest of our group. And happened to notice another “treasure” in the hallway along the way…
This isn’t altogether the hotel’s fault. How housekeeping managed to clean our room missing the poop is a bit of mystery. But, pet owners need to be responsible for their animals – my wife and I are for ours. I could go on, however, suggestion for the hotel management of today. Maybe only have pet-friendly areas (floors/rooms) that have coarse sand or kitty litter for flooring in the rooms and hallways, instead of the nice, plush carpeting in the hallways and dark brown carpeting in the rooms that hide many ills. (I found many stains on ours looking closely with a flashlight before we vacated our first room.) Perhaps offer a pet service for guests that can’t or won’t take responsibility for their pets. And a surcharge for pet-guest rooms and have a staff person personally check out a pet room before releasing it to operations for next guests. When we checked out, I discovered that while I had changed our flights for a day earlier, I apparently forgot to change our last night at The Palmer. Finally negotiated to a $50 “early checkout fee”. By the way, the basic rooms and especially bathrooms are quite small, similar to a river cruise room.
Now the good. The Palmer House is what I would call THE Grand Dame of Hotels for Chicago, going back to the 1870’s in it’s current form. The original was destroyed in the great fire shortly after being built. It has served a number of dignitaries and famous people over the decades. The hotel has undergone a major restoration over the last 7 or so years at a substantial cost (around $160+ million), and it shows. The rooms, although small, have been re-done, new sinks, bathrooms, beds, wall coverings etc. They managed to retain the original flooring in most bathrooms it appears (granite?) Our first night we happened upon a bartender in the main lobby and while serving us and even though her shift was over, she shared some history. S (didn’t write down her name) has been at The Palmer for 13+ years, and if the hotel were a museum (and in a way it is) she could be it’s curator, or at least a lead docent. The lobby is exquisite, the ceiling is reminiscent of the Vatican in Rome – restoration finished last year. The restored Tiffany fixtures adorning the walls and staircase are magnificent. The original marble floor has been exposed and polished, although damaged from nails having been carpeted over for many years. Staff is generally helpful and friendly, the Freshii and Starbucks are great for a quick start in the morning.
Bottom line, do go to the Palmer House at least for drinks and check out the grand lobby. And If you do stay, it’s a great location, central to a lot of sights and restaurants. But be sure to bring a flashlight and pooper-scooper
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- North America’s most established hotel, the Palmer House Hilton first opened its doors in 1871 and has remained the place to "see and be seen" in downtown Chicago. We continue evolving to serve you with the latest conveniences and comforts in meetings, accommodations and dining - a hip and historic blend of modern nuances and Chicago cultural significance. Whether you’re holding a gala in the famed Empire Room or an intimate gathering in one of our hospitality suites, your event is sure to be a success. Here, you’ll be the host in the Chicago hotel that’s been the venue of choice for celebrities, politicians, and royalty for more than a century.When you come to the Palmer House Hilton, you don’t just stay here. You live here—even if it’s only for a night. That’s why all of our guest rooms and suites have just the right touches to make you feel right at home. You’ll sleep well on our Hilton Serenity Dream bed featuring a plush top mattress and crisp linens, lathering up with Peter Thomas Roth bath products, perceptual service and a full host of amenities to keeping you connected – from flat screen HD televisions, wired and wireless high-speed internet to alarm clocks with auxiliary ports, you’ll find everything you need to rest easy. Lockwood Restaurant, your Farm to Fork, AAA 4 Diamond destination open for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea. The Lobby Bar at Lockwood is a favorite for locals and travelers alike for craft beers and craft cocktails with Palmer House private reserves and labels. Potter’s is the hip spot to enjoy a retro mix of perfectly poured libations and delectable light fare while reminiscing about the hotel’s history. The hotel is walking distance to the Blue Line and the Orange Line “L” stations for quick transport to O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport, respectively. The Palmer House Hilton is steps to all the action along State Street including Macy’s, Nordstrom Rack, American Apparel, H&M, Block 37 Mall and the Chicago Theatre. The hotel is also a short walk to The Art Institute, Joffrey Ballet, Cadillac Theatre, Jeweler’s Row, Millennium Park, John G. Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Palmer House Hilton Hotel Chicago
- Hilton Hotel Chicago
- Hilton Hotel Palmer
- Palmer House Chicago
- Chicago Palmer House Hilton
- Palmer House Hilton Chicago
- Palmer Hilton House
- Hilton Chicago
- Chicago Hilton