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“Visit to great grandma's hotel” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Congress Plaza Hotel

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Congress Plaza Hotel
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (Downtown / The Loop)   |  
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stay 2 nights or more
Ranked #127 of 177 Hotels in Chicago
San Antonio, Texas
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Visit to great grandma's hotel”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012 via mobile

This hotel smells like my great grandma's house. I know it's super old and some might say it has charm (which is what I kept telling myself because we had no other choice but to stay there), but if you prefer newer hotels stay away from this one. We complained 2 times before we got a nice room, with tall ceilings, good view, and a bay like window. If you settle you are likely to end up in a room that looks like it's half way through being renovated. During our stay a man went crazy in our hallway with the fire extinguisher and was using it to bang on our wall/door at 4:00am. There were holes and blood splatter on the wall, and the entire hallway was covered in the white spray from the extinguisher. The man was on the wrong floor trying to get in the wrong room and it set him off. There were fire trucks and police cars that showed up within minutes of us calling 911. The hotel never reached out to us to comp our room for the night or to apologize. I'm 5 months pregnant, really didn't need this kind of stress. There are so many other choices, there is no reason to stay at this hotel. If cost is a reason, you'll be glad you spent the extra money to stay somewhere else.

  • Stayed September 2012
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1,534 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 stars
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Indiana
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

I booked due to the cheaper cost and excellent location. Until my stay, I was surprised at it's ranking as a 2-star hotel, but it most certainly is. Basically, you get what you pay for. Common areas of the hotel need work. It is a very old historic hotel, but the upkeep has been sloppy. Picketers stand outside the valet entrance. We used a self-park about 1 block away due to the bad reviews on the valet service (also saved us around $15.) As far as the room itself, we were in the north tower, 6th floor. The furniture, tv and bedding were all new and clean. Lighting in the bathroom was terrible. Noise level in the room was louder than newer hotels in the area (other guests as well as traffic noise outside). In short, next time I would probably fork over the extra $ to stay elsewhere, but if you are on very limited budget and want a great location, go for it.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Irwin, Pennsylvania
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

I stayed at the Congress for 3 nights during IMTS. The location was fabulous. We were within walking distance to restaurants and shops, as well as Lake Michigan. Some of the staff was friendly. Josseph, the bellman took excellent care of our luggage, as we arrived in town earlier than check-in, and wanted to hit the show during the day. Also, Monique (I think her name was), the young lady at the night-desk was also very kind and helpful. She gladly made change and directed me to the vending machines that dispensed bottled water. Some staff, however, when passing them through the corridors did not want to make eye-contact let alone offer a smile. I think a little pedestrian friendliness will go a long way in making some of the guests happier. This hotel is in desperate need of updates. You can easily see the wear in all the furniture in the lobby, bar, restaurant, and in the rooms. Our room was very clean. The mattress was bearable, as were the linens. You can easily tell the age of everything in the room from the lamps to carpet, to the electrical work. The only things ‘modern’ were a flat-screen television and a small coffee maker. The bath amenities were minimum: conditioning shampoo, and some crumby soaps made in China. One other thing I noticed were the display cases on the first floor. One showcased the bar, and had beer bottles and snack bags on display. They were covered in dust and the date on the Cheetos showed they expired in 1996! Have they really not changed their display cases in 18 years?! I feel that a little attention, one small investment at a time, would go a very long way. I would stay at this hotel again ONLY if they make updates. I would rather spend the extra $30 and stay somewhere else.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Ames, Iowa
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

If you do not read this entire review, please read this: DO NOT STAY AT THIS HOTEL. OUR ENTIRE FLOOR HAD A STRONG MUSTY SMELL. THE STAFF IS UNINSPIRED AND THE RESTAURANT IS NOT WORTH IT.

I love old hotels (see my reviews of the Palmer House in Chicago and the Pfitzer in Milwaukee). I was truly excited to be staying at a landmark hotel such as the Congress Plaza, until I showed up.

It started with the valet parking. The hotel mentions on its website that it has valet parking. When I think valet parking at a downtown Chicago hotel, I expect to be able to pull up to the hotel, unload my luggage to a bellman and just enter the hotel. Not here. The parking entrance is on Wabash, a block from the hotel. After arriving after 11pm (and a six hour drive) I was not thrilled to learn that I will have to lug my luggage almost a full block to the hotel.

Check-in went alright. The gentleman at the front desk was personable enough. My wife and I were given room 452. Upon exiting the elevator, we noticed a faint smell. We did not think much of it at the time. We looked at the room directional sign to see which way we needed to go. We were told we were in the north tower (to the right) but the sign showed an arrow to the right for rooms only up to 438. To the left showed rooms going much higher. We preceded to the left. After walking through a maze, we came to rooms 451 and 453. Now, part of this is on me. I had not realized that all of the rooms were odd numbers (it was late and, again, the sign said the other direction only went to 438). My wife called the hotel from her cell phone and was told we needed to go the other direction.

As we walked down the hallway to our room, that faint odor became more intense. I hoped it would go away upon entering the room. It did not. The odor was a strong musty smell. We were only there for one night and we were too tired to move rooms.

The room was not well lit. It was hard to tell if the room was clean because of the lighting. The carpet was horrible. I did see some kind of insect. It could have been a German cockroach (but it seemed too small). The bed was awful. I like a firm mattress. It was firm but at the same time, we rolled to the middle when we laid down. The pillows were the worst I have ever encountered at any hotel.

Breakfast at the hotel restaurant is forgettable. I expect high prices when dining in downtown Chicago. I also expect above average food and service. Neither occurred. Our waitress made several mistakes when bringing our food. She also handed the plates to us. She did not set them down on the table. She handed them to us. Maybe I am being a bit of a snob here but really?!? Water and coffee pitchers are left on the table. There were at least four wait staff personnel at the restaurant with just about as many patrons. The wait staff congregated in a corner and seemed more interested in socializing than taking care of the customers. The food had zero flavor.

If there is a positive, it is the location of this hotel. You are close to a lot of great attractions and fine restaurants. The problem is that there are too many other hotels in the area that one may stay. You may pay a little more to stay elsewhere but I cannot ever recommend this hotel to anyone in good faith.

Upon checking out, the front desk clerk never bothered to ask how our stay was. My guess is she already knew the answer...

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Saint Louis, Missouri
Top Contributor
104 reviews 104 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

It's unfortunate there isnt a way to track what people paid for the room and assess whether its worth it at a certain cost. Because at over $100 a night, this hotel isnt worth it. There were four serious events going on downtown Chicago the weekend we went, and the hotel was $179/night (everything was overly expensive).
The hotel/room was a dump, floor boards coming off the wall, outlet covers missing, fire alarms pulled from the ceiling and never puttied over, emergency stairs wobbly and then there was the air conditioning. This place only has one setting - hot or cold and its at the hotel's discretion not yours. The only option is to open the room if they turn on the heat...and when you're on the second floor facing a parking lot and the L - that isnt a great way to sleep. Sure, the hotel is located wonderfully, but its not worth it.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Byron, Illinois
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2012

I don't know what people are talking about when they say they didn't like it here. My family and I loved it we just stayed this last weekend and yes it is dated, but its was clean and the rooms were nice, and the staff was very friendly and helpful. This place was in the best location to go everywhere on foot. We stayed in the south tower on the ninth floor with a view of the city.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2012

We wouldn't have traded the location - it is right on Michigan ave and is central to all we did. HOWEVER- we were SHOCKED with the bad service! We came back to the room midday to change, and our room was FILLED with a dusty haze as if construction had taken place. Sure enough, our bathroom light was on, walkie talkie left on the sink, power tools plugged in, and pieces of tile and plaster all OVER the place in the bathtub. They were literally in the MIDDLE of a destruction job, taking apart the entire bathroom and smashing things up, tools everywhere- WHILE we had our things in the room. Not only were there ppl with access to our belongings other than the maid service which is expected, but our stuff was subjected to this dusty mess while we were gone. We have no idea what would have happened had we not come back to find this. NO ONE told us, and when we went back to the desk and confronted them, they said we should have been notified and moved to another room when we checked-in. NOPE! Even worse, since I had booked through expedia, the only thing they could offer us was a room upgrade (obviously, since we were switching anyway!), and a free breakfast. PAH! We were not thrilled. They didn't even offer help to move our stuff. Unbelievable. Otherwise, nice old building that we liked...but man!

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Congress Plaza Hotel

Address: 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Illinois > Chicago > Downtown / The Loop
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #127 of 177 Hotels in Chicago
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Congress Plaza Hotel 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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