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W Chicago - City Center
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Reviewed May 24, 2008

As a business traveler, my criteria for selecting a hotel is location to my meeting, proximity to interesting local sites, and a Starwood property. I was happy that the W met these objectives. It's close to the Chicago office, a short walk to parks, museums, the lake, and shopping. It's not central to the Miracle Mile, but only about a 15 minute walk or a $10 cab ride.

The hotel was funky. The lobby is candle lit. I walked past the reception desk when I was trying to check in because my eyes hadn't acclimated yet. I think that happens to guests a lot because there was a hotel employee stationed to steer me back when I missed the mark. You've got to expect that type of quirkiness at a W. I found the staff friendlier here than at other Ws.

The room was very good. I had a large corner room with a king. It was newly remodeled. I was very happy with it. I paid the regular rate. I think there are other rooms that are tight though. My only nit was that I couldn't fit my laptop in the room safe. I guess I need a new laptop.

I highly recommend the W.

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled on business
    • Value
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Thank e3carmstrong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 15, 2008

This hotel has a great location in the Chicago Loop, but it is VERY close to the tracks for the Chicago L (the elevated railroad, Chicago's version of a subway). All night, I could hear trains rattle past my window -- and I was on the 11th floor! It was way too loud, and I slept terribly.

As others have noted, the rooms are quite small, but small rooms are pretty much the norm for W Hotels and for hotels inside the Loop, and to be honest, the rooms at the W Chicago City Center are actually larger than the rooms at the W New York.

The staff was always very, very helpful and attentive. They booked all sorts of restaurant reservations for me. They patiently gave me good directions to sights all over town. When something in my room broke, and repairman came right by. Because I am a Starwood Gold member, I was allowed to check-out at 4 p.m.! So, I have absolutely nothing but good things to say about the service.

The lobby is beautiful and "cool". I didn't try the restaurant, so I can't comment on that.

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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Thank poldyblooom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 15, 2008

W Hotels are what happens when a bunch of marketing MBAs don't have enough to do, and so management poses a question: what DO cool, edgy, tech-savvy, young heroes with gobs of disposable cash want in a hotel? The apparent answer: puce and gray decor, young and edgy-looking desk help and mini-bars that offer baseball caps and "intimacy kits." Ah, progress. It would be more fun were it not so transparently contrived. But then, I am undoubtedly more curmudgeon than cool and edgy.

The W City Center has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, the location is excellent if business takes you to the city center area. The rooms, though quite small, are comfortable for a solo traveler. The bedding is first rate. The iPod ports are a nice touch. The staff is young and enthusiastic and tries hard to please. The building is an architectural gem, with exceptionally nice lobby features somewhat obscured by poor lighting. The lobby bar is a nice place for an evening cocktail or morning coffee.

Minuses? For starters, puce and dark gray are maintenance nightmares: every mistake with a service cart leaves a noticeable plaster ding on a wall; every laundering error creates fade marks and stains on comforters that began life in purple but are fading to maroon. The result is that new stuff becomes old stuff quickly, and W doesn't seem inclined or equipped to do much about it, and so the rooms and corridors look more beat up than they should. It didn't help that the remote for the nice big screen tv didn't work.

The youth and enthusiasm of staff is pleasant, but has the down-side of inexperience and lack of training. Hence, the concierge, asked to obtain men's dress shirts to remedy a clothing emergency, did not know the conventions of men's shirt sizing (i.e., that 15 1/2 by 34 means collar circumference and sleeve length, in inches), and the doormen didn't know how to locate a street address just a few blocks away.

And here's news - - if W's brand identity is cool and edgy, why is USA Today the only free daily paper? I suspect cool and edgy types would prefer the local paper (and Chicago's is better than most) so they could find out what was going on in that toddlin' town.

In terms of value for the price, the W stacks up relatively poorly against the competition - - the week before, I paid somewhat less to stay at the far superior Sofitel Water Tower.

Overall, this is not a bad hotel, but you pay more than you should for pretty basic stuff overdressed in Starwood's rather contrived notions of brand identity.

  • Stayed: February 2008, traveled on business
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
1  Thank pointfermin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2008

I booked the hotel through Hotwire, and was expecting a basic room. I got exactly what I expected--the smallest hotel room in the United States.

The room I had (Room 1129) was the smallest hotel room I have ever stayed in, and I have stayed in some small rooms in Argentina and Europe. There was very little room between the bed and the desk and the entertainment cabinet. The bathroom was also vert small, with no counter space to put toiletries. I had to keep everything in the travel bag after I used them.

The lobby was very nice during the day, but at night it is like walking into a cave, and it doubles as the hotel bar. I could barely see to make it to the elevator it was so dark and so crowded.

The front desk people are professional, but they do not present the kind of service one expects in a 4 star hotel. I was offered an upgrade at $77.00 extra a night, which I declined, then the desk clerk said she would give me a room with a queen bed. However, I was only given a room with a double bed, and the W tried to charge me an extra $99.00 a night because they said I had upgraded. The woman at the front desk on Sunday morning was not helpful at all.

Another problem I had was getting my car when I was ready to check out. Be warned--if you take a car and park in their parking lot, the charge is $48.00 a night. If you are there on weekends, you can actually park in front of the hotel or on LaSalle Street for free. We tried to call the number we were told to call, and no one would answer. We then called the problem line and the man who answered said we would have to call the valet back, he could not help. We called another number, and this person tells us to come down to the lobby and just go to the parking valet with the claim check. This added an extra 20 minutes to the check out.

The W does have some nice features--the bedding was incredible, we had 5 pillows, and the soaps and shampoos were great. We tipped the maid, and she gave us tons of extra towels and soaps.

The hotel location was great. We walked to the Oriental Theater to see Wicked--the theater was about 1/2 mile away. We walked to the Art Institute which was about 6 blocks away, and we walked to the Magnificent Mile. The El is a block away from the hotel. My room was across the street from the El, and I never heard it at night.

My experience at the W was neither pleasant or unpleasant--I think it is a rather mediocre hotel. There are far better hotels with far better service for the same money, and I would not stay there again.

  • Stayed: May 2008
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
1  Thank pcbdoug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 25, 2008

Booked a "Wonderful Room" for a one night stay for a business trip. The hotel's website states that a Wonderful Room is 253 sq. ft., with an oversize desk, glass door rainforest shower and luggage rack. Checked in at 5:30 PM Wednesday and was given one of the four rooms in the far corners of the floor. Walked into the room - no desk and the tv cabinet/mini-bar/dresser unit was inches from the front corner of the bed so you had to turn sideways it get to the window or climb over the bed. No glass door shower. No chair. Furniture with peeling, scraped veneer. Room was about as big as my wife's walk-in closet.

I called the welcome desk to ask for a change. Was called back by "Guest Service" and told no rooms were available, but after I continued to complain he said he would check. He called back five minutes later and said no rooms were available and the hotel was fully booked. (A lie) I asked as it was only 5:30 PM had everyone checked in and he said yes (another obvious lie). He said he could upgrade me for $1,500!! When I protested he offered me a free breakfast. As I declined as I was attending a meeting, he said would look again. While I waited, I paced off the room and measured it at 160 sq.ft. including bathroom, closet, windowsill, etc. Also called the Starwood Hotels 800 Reservation number (W is a Starwood Hotel) and was told there were rooms available at all price points that night.

As no callback came in 5 minutes I called the welcome desk again and asked for the manager. I told the Welcome Desk attendant what the problem was. I was called back by another "guest service" person who told me the hotel was "fully committed" and there were no rooms. He would not define "fully committed". When I complained that the staff was rude he argued with me and said as he had not spoken to me yet he could not have been rude. Told him that there were rooms available (he said the 800 number was overselling the hotel) and that the room didn't meet the standards of the room I booked. He said he would look again.

Finally got a callback after a total of a wasted half-hour and was moved to another "Wonderful Room". It did have a desk (oversize only as compared to a school desk) and was larger, but no glass door shower (just an old tub) and no luggage rack (not a problem).

I've been to quite a few cities and I have stayed at Sheratons and Starwoods and have been a member of the Sheraton Club since 1987, but I have never been treated this way by hotel management, and never so obviously lied to. It is among the worst customer service experiences I have ever had.

When I discussed it with the manager at checkout, the manager Heather said the first room was considered a "Wonderful Room" and when I pointed out how it didn't meet what was on the website she had no response. So this means that the hotel's website has false and misleading information.

On the positive side the hotel is well located and has free coffee in the morning. The bed was comfortable with nice linens, soft towels in the bathroom with good amenities and a good clock radio with iPod dock. And contrary to another review there were 20 or 30 tv channels.

Lesson I learned? Always read TripAdvisor reviews even if you are traveling on business.

  • Stayed: April 2008, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
2  Thank ms321
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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