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“This is my favorite hotel I've ever been to.”

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Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Ranked #12 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 25, 2011

Run, don't walk, to the Elysian Hotel!!! Great location, impeccable service, astonishingly beautiful and state-of-the-art hotel rooms ... the entire hotel is a work of art! I would never stay anywhere else in Chicago. In fact, I found it hard to leave our room to tour Chicago ... found it harder to check out at the end of our stay. Can't wait to go back!!!

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
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Thank girlfromca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,121 - 2,127 of 2,452 reviews

Reviewed July 25, 2011

The location of the Elysian is great, and the room (Gold Coast Suite) was gorgeous and had plenty of room for the three of us (two adults and one pre-teen) to sprawl out. The balcony was wonderful - we spent our mornings and evenings out there people watching, relaxing and enjoying the sounds of the city, and the view was excellent. The staff was gracious and genuinely friendly and seemed to anticipate our needs, from offers of bottled water to the much appreciated gesture of holding the front door open after a long day in the city. Our room was immaculate and the sofa bed made up and ready when we returned each evening. We were positively spoiled!

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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Thank zapzoink
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2011

The Elysian Hotel is truly five star. From the reception to the room, we were extended every courtesy possible. In our four day stay we did not hear the word "no". The room was beautifully done, elegant and very comfortable.The no tip policy was difficult because the service was so good it was hard not to reward the staff. However, as a result we felt we were in a residence instead of a hotel and it made the experience that much more comfortable.
The hotel is in the heart of Chicago- they have a house car and they will drive you within a certain radius of the hotel. Benny, the driver, was delightful and very enthusiastic and a very helpful bonus.
If you truly want to pamper yourself, I recommend this worldclass hotel.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank wayne09toronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2011

There is no doubt that the Elysian is a very nice hotel, and is probably the nicest (physically) that I have ever stayed in. But I am fascinated by the apparently near-unanimous glowing support from prior guests, and accounts of beyond-the-call-of-duty service, that contrast so greatly with my own experience.

My wife and I have three young girls at home, and we are both working professionals. Our family is always our first priority, and we don’t get too much time to ourselves. But we try to take at least one long weekend together each year. Recently, Chicago has been our destination of choice—both for our couple’s get away and for at least one trip per year with the kids. In 2009 we stayed at the Peninsula and enjoyed it very much. We have also stayed at many other hotels in the Magnificent Mile/Gold Coast/River North area. When we were planning our trip last fall, however, we read about the Elysian and, based on the excellent reviews, booked a three night stay in early November.

I thought about writing a review immediately after our stay. Not to bash on the hotel, which it certainly doesn’t deserve, but to give readers a different perspective and perhaps reduce expectations to a reasonable level. Unfortunately, the demands of returning to work prevented that from happening and my energy for writing the review faded. We are now planning our next trip to Chicago (this one with our children). In connection with trying to decide where to stay, I encountered more stories of the Elysian’s top notch service, and I felt obligated to share my experience. Here is my story:

We arrived at the hotel about midday on Thursday. Like many others, we were immediately impressed with the hotel’s lobby and exterior. As I recall, there were no other guests checking in at the time. There were two employees at the desk. One was on the pone and the other was looking at her computer screen or something else on the desk. They appeared to be busy with whatever they were doing. We weren’t immediately helped or acknowledged while we waited at the desk. No “welcome to the Elysian, I will be right with you” or similar greeting. This wasn’t really a problem for us, as we weren’t in any particular hurry. But I am sure many people would have been bothered by the lack of acknowledgement.

After a couple of minutes, one of the employees at the desk greeted us and proceeded to check us in. When she was done with the check in process it became clear that a mistake had been made, when she showed me a confirmation for a single room rate, rather than for the suite we had booked. After a while, we discovered that someone else with my same last name had a reservation too, and this had caused some confusion. This would explain why the lady at the desk referred to my wife by someone else’s first name when she looked us up in the computer. If my wife was a more suspicious woman, I could have been in some trouble. After learning that my wife’s name was not what showed up in the reservation that she was looking at, the clerk changed my wife’s name in the computer (but this was before she discovered that she was looking at the wrong reservation). I only hope that when she discovered the mistake, she went back into the other person’s reservation and changed his wife’s name back.

Eventually, the desk clerk found our correct reservation and we got things straightened out. But my wife (who was 6 months pregnant) and I waited 20 to 30 minutes during this whole process. The employee was polite and apologetic enough during this time, we weren’t upset, and I can’t say that the service was terrible. But based on all the accolades and stories of exceptional service, this was not the start to our stay that I had expected. You would think that someone might at least have offered my pregnant wife a chair to sit in while we waited. She was fine, and was probably happy to stand after sitting on the flight and the trip to the hotel. But, in any event, the offer wasn’t made.

When the recheck-in process was done, the employee handed us our room keys. I noticed that our room was three to four floors below where I thought we should be, based on what I had been told prior to placing my reservation. It has been long enough since my stay at the Elysian that I do not recall for sure what the room we paid for was called. But my recollection is that we paid for a premier suite. Whatever the room was called, I had contacted the hotel to prior to booking to confirm the difference between the various levels of suites, and was informed that the suite I was booking would be on or above a certain floor. But by this point I didn’t want to go through the process of checking-in for a third time, so we just went to our room.

The room itself was fantastic. And in that way (size, décor, and amenities) the Elysian lives up to the hype that has been created for it. Our view, on the other hand, was of the top of a parking garage and the back of an adjacent building. See the attached photos. As I recall, we were facing to the southeast. We wound up keeping the shades closed pretty much the whole trip. If I had it to do over again, I would have gone back down and asked for a room on a higher floor. But we were tired and hungry, and I am not usually one to complain. I deal with confrontation all day at work. The last thing I need is more confrontation on vacation. And given the cool weather, we didn’t plan on using the balcony much anyway. In hindsight, however, moving to another room might have solved the fireplace issue described below, and that would have been worth the trouble.

When my wife and I returned from lunch that first day, there was a tray of fruit, cheese and meat of some kind in our room, along with an envelope with my last name on it. In the envelope was a gift certificate to the hotel restaurant and a confirmation for a reservation for four for that evening. I had not made the reservation, and had no reason for a table for four. The hotel had again mistaken me for the guest with my same last name. I had to call the desk to get this straightened out, and to make sure that they had the right person linked to our room in the hotel computer—so that calls and other services would be directed appropriately. Because of the misunderstanding, my wife and I were never sure if the food tray was a check-in perk, or if it was something the other guest had paid for. Eventually we ate some of the food on the tray and left it for housekeeping. The tray (with its leftover contents) was with us for the entire stay, and became sort of a joke between my wife and I. Every time we left the room we would try to make it more and more obvious that we were done with it (wadding up napkins on top of the tray, putting it on the floor, etc.), and yet the tray would always be there when we returned to the room. This didn’t upset me. It was just kind of funny and, again, seemed not in keeping with the hotel’s reputation.

This brings me to the fire place issue I mentioned above. The fire place, along with the bathtub (which did not disappoint), was one of the main reasons that we booked our room at the Elysian. It worked fine, but almost immediately filled the room with a gas-type smell. We got used to the smell in a few minutes, but when we returned to the room, even after being gone for a couple of hours (with the fireplace off), the smell was lingering. And if the fireplace was on long enough, I started to feel a little light-headed. On our way out on the first evening of our stay, we asked a gentleman at the desk if our experience with the fireplace was normal. Based on what I had heard about service at the hotel, I was expecting him to express some concern, have someone check it out, or perhaps inquire about whether we should be moved to another room. But he was dismissive of the issue, and informed us that the fireplaces do that if they run for a significant period of time. I don’t know if all of the fire paces at the Elysian have that problem, or if he didn’t appreciate the significance of the smell in our room. But we did not get any benefit from the fireplace during our stay.

Before booking the room, I had heard about a guest at the Elysian who had forgotten to bring a charger for her iphone. After asking the hotel where she could get one, they offered to drive her to the Apple Store in the Hotel BMW. If I recall correctly, the guest wasn’t ready to go to the store yet and, before she got ready, someone from the hotel went to the Apple Store, purchased a charger for her, and brought it to her room on a little tray. It was stories like this that led me to believe that my wife and I would be staying in Nirvana when we booked our room.

As coincidence would have it, I too needed something for an iphone while I was at the hotel. And because I’d heard the story mentioned above, I thought I would see if I would get the same treatment. I stopped at the concierge desk, told them what I needed, and asked what would be the best way to get to the Apple Store to get it. Cab or walk was the response I received. I love walking around in Chicago, so that was okay. But, again, not the over-the-top service that the hotel is consistently noted to have.

Sometime during our stay, there was a message on our phone, indicating that I needed to call the front desk. When I did, I was informed that the hotel had forgotten to run my credit card at check-in, to cover incidental expenses (I had prepaid for the room itself). I was then told that I needed to stop by the front desk to take care of it at my convenience. At that point, I believe my wife and I were in for the evening, so I had to make a special trip downstairs to take care of the hotel’s check-in oversight. I was happy to do that, and it wasn’t a big inconvenience. But based on the hotel’s reputation for excellent service, I would have expected someone to offer to come to my room to get my card and then bring it back, or to simply handle the matter at checkout.

Other than the issues addressed above, our stay was fine. We loved the room (other than the view and fireplace), and the restaurant let us take a dessert back to our room, even though room service was either not running at that time or did not offer that dessert. My wife appreciated that.

That is my story. Nothing horrible. No cause for a two-star rating, or a warning not to stay at the hotel. We just didn’t experience the exceptional service that so many others seem to have. No one at the hotel knew, or at least no one referred to me by, my name other than at check-in and check-out, or seemed to go out of their way to make us feel welcome. Again, for me that was not much of a problem. Many of the differences between a four and five star hotel are lost or wasted on me. I don’t mind a hotel staff that is not interactive or over-the-top polite. In fact, sometimes that can be annoying. But a more discerning guest who had my experience may perceive that as poor service for a world class hotel.

The contrast between the reports of exceptional service that I have heard, and my own experience, has led me to wonder what accounts for the difference. I have come up with two possibilities. The first is simply that by random chance or dumb luck, our stay was the exception that proves the rule of outstanding service. I assume that this is the case.

The other possibility is that because I received a discounted rate through hotels.com (or some similar site) I was not recognized or treated as a “special guest.” I have wondered whether this is something that the hotel staff is aware of through the reservation process, and either consciously or subconsciously treats “full-rate” guests better than those paying a discounted rate.

I know that certain guests will always get the star treatment, as they should. Someone paying for the presidential suit should be treated like a president. I just wonder whether the over-the-top service described by so many—as opposed to polite greetings, opening doors, and other service you’d expect from any nice hotel—is reserved for higher paying guests, or ones who at least paid full room rates. I hope and expect that such is not the case. But I do imagine that Lawrence Fishburn (who we had the pleasure of riding with in the hotel elevator) received the red carpet treatment that the Elysian is apparently noted for.

Whatever the reason for our experience, we had a fine stay at the Elysian, but I cannot give it an exceptional review.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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8  Thank CSherm72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ElysianHotel, General Manager at Waldorf Astoria Chicago, responded to this reviewResponded July 22, 2011

Dear Guest,
I appreciate you taking the time to share your review of Elysian Hotel Chicago. On behalf of the hotel, please accept my sincere apologies for the services laps you encountered during your stay. The items you have outlined in regards to attention to detail, staff interaction and housekeeping will be immediately addressed with the necessary departments. I would like to assure you that these missed opportunities will not be overlooked and do not reflect the service promise we extend to our travelers.
Please allow me to connect with you privately as I would like to discuss your experiences further.
Regards,
Kevin Robinson
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2011

I stayed at the Elysian for 1 night at I was blown away by the quality and service of this hotel. I was upgraded (despite booking a special deal) and the room was amazing. The spa was a real highlight.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Thank FreqL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2011

We arrived around 6pm and there was no one around to assist with luggage. We were promptly checked in at the front desk to our suite; however, the room smelled sour and was a mess with dirty towels, robes, trash etc as if no one had serviced the room. The front desk was quick to apologize and stated their records show the room was serviced - they were going to deliver a bottle of red wine for our troubles (they delivered champagne instead). We were escorted to a different room. The same sour smell existed in this serviced room. The balcony was spacious and was enjoyed until the smokers in the balcony above used ours as their ashtray. The room was nicely appointed, the bed comfortable, the honor bar always stocked. Our second experience with housekeeping was the next day when they didn't service our room until approximately 4pm. We had been out of the room all day. The third experience we pushed the service button when we left, they promptly serviced the room while we were gone and then called at 4pm to tell us they couldn't service our room because our do not disturb light was on. Clearly, housekeeping's left hand doesn't know what it's right hand has been up to. There were always several "greeters" standing in the lobby, but none aware enough to open the door, hail a cab, assist with luggage or generally help unless asked. They were very great at smiling, but not anticipating your needs or generally aware. Upon our departure, there was no bill under our door so I went to the front desk and requested a copy to be emailed - didn't happen.
The hotel has potential, but I believe they have young, green employee's that need some further training or the proper supervision to live up to the reviews they've been given and they really, really need to do something about the sour stench in the guest rooms!

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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2  Thank 5startraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ElysianHotel, General Manager at Waldorf Astoria Chicago, responded to this reviewResponded July 21, 2011

Dear Guest,
Thank you for the time and thought you invested in writing about your recent experience with us. While I was distressed to read you had less than a flawless stay with us, I welcomed the chance to uncover service opportunities that require attention and additional training.
I hope you’ll allow me to contact you privately so that I may extend a proper apology.
Regards,
Kevin Robinson
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2011

Gosh - what is there to say about a hotel where all the rooms are suites, and the mid-size suite was bigger than my house? This hotel has a huge reputation, and really does live up to it. It is luxe without being over-designed or too clever for it's own good (see my review of the Andaz on 5th Avenue, New York). My company managed to get the room rate down to $225 per night for a big group of us, and it was worth every cent. Everything really was perfect. I only wish I could afford it as a tourist on my own dime.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Thank uksa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Waldorf Astoria Chicago

Address: 11 East Walton, Chicago, IL 60611-1412 (Formerly Elysian Hotel Chicago)
Location: United States > Illinois > Chicago > Gold Coast , Near North Side
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #12 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Price Range: $349 - $609 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Waldorf Astoria Chicago 5*
Number of rooms: 215
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The AAA Five-Diamond Waldorf Astoria Chicago(formerly The Elysian Hotel)is located in the heart of the prestigious Gold Coast neighborhood amognst the Magnificent Mile and Oak Street famed restaurants, retailers and lakefront. The award-winning 215 room hotel through innovative services and technologies, creates a new experience in luxury – energetic and fashion forward, warm and welcoming, and fresh and engaging. Amenities include a 14,000 square-foot spa & health club; 7,500 square feet of private event space; Bernard's Bar & Restaurant. ... more   less 
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