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“Great place, stayed 3 times now!”

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The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center
Ranked #153 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Reviewed January 12, 2012

I checked very good because for the money it is the best for the location. I read a lot of these reviews and I was shocked! I have taken my wife and kids there 3 times now and the place is just fine and is safe. It is very old and has not been remodeled but has been kept up very nicely. It has CHARACTER! I am not a prima donna and would never stay in a dump, and we love this place. It is 150 a night for a family of 4 with double beds, the furniture is very old and beautiful! Nice new flat screens! Some hotels in worse locations on Mich Ave are 3-400 a night. This hotel is a 2-3 block walk from Millennium park and 3-4 blocks from Bennagins restaurant (nicer applebees basically) . It is 2 blocks or so from a nice bakehouse for breakfast and a mom and pop breakfast place and dunkin donuts a block maybe. You can walk to Shedd Aquarium if you don't mind a 15-20 minute walk. My son lost a toy in the trash and the room guy searched through the main trash until he found it. Bellman are all nice! In the hotel...Nice bar and restaurant with old wood work and original bar! I will never stay anywhere else in Chicago! It is true the strike is almost 8 years but the hotel does not miss a beat and they only walk 1-2 times a week and do not say a word to you. The strikers get paid well by the union according to the desk lady and can have other jobs so who is at fault here, really? This hotel is GREAT for what you pay and location rocks!!! Oh, it is quiet, Walls are thick like older hotels!!!

Room Tip: Pay for a view of the lake and park!!
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank Pat0913
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,070 - 2,076 of 2,839 reviews

Reviewed January 5, 2012

Walking into the Congress is like taking a step back in time. Luxury and old world charm surround you at every turn. Our room was warm and inviting with wonderful linens. Sadly, no frig or microwave, so we had to eat the old fashioned way -- at one of the hotel dining rooms or at close-by restaurants on Michigan Avenue. The views of Lake Michigan, the Buckingham Fountain, and Navy Pier from our room were breathtaking. Nothing will ever compare to watching summer storms over Lake Michigan -- nature's light show. And the light show at the Buckingham Fountain, whether from our room or close up at the fountain were pretty stupendous for a man-made visual feast. Also, this hotel is within easy walking distance of Millennium Park (and the Bean) and the world class art museum, the Art Institute of Chicago.

Room Tip: Ask for a lake-view room. It's the only way to go and isn't that expensive.
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  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with family
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Thank MRhoadesCambria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 3, 2012

I have stayed in many Chicago hotels and this has been by far my favorite. It is just down the street from Millennium Park and the Art Institute...also, walking distance to Navy Pier and Willis Tower. Also, if you have a car...an easy drive to Science and Industry Museum. The hotel is truly beautiful and historic. It might need some painting in some rooms, but it was very clean and that is all that really matters. Also, surprisingly great food at Rafael Steakhouse!

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Crystal V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 2, 2012

AVOID THE CONGRESS PLAZA HOTEL AT ALL COSTS! We booked our stay at the Congress Plaza Hotel through American Express Travel (powered by Travelocity). The hotel is currently listed on the site as a “Best Bet” and has been given 3-stars. We ultimately chose to stay there because of its convenient location and fascinating history. When we arrived there, the building architecture was undoubtedly fascinating, it soon became obvious that the hotel is not being properly maintained. Setting the dirty carpets and dark, dirty, hallways aside, our first disturbing discovery was an unlocked door on the 7th floor next to the vending area. This unlocked door opens into a shaft used for plumbing and other infrastructure, however, one, especially, a child, could easily fall down to the lower floors and be seriously injured or killed. It shocks me that the hotel can remain in operation with such serious safety hazards. At approximately 11:20 p.m., we discovered a BED BUG in the bed in one of our rooms! We immediately gathered the evidence, took pictures, and called the front desk. The front desk did not seem surprised by our discovery and acted as if we were inconveniencing them! The front desk sent a security officer to the room at approximately 11:40 p.m., who also did not act surprised. The officer had us fill out a security report and took pictures of the bug. The security officer advised us that the manager will move one room. Since we had three rooms on the floor, two of which were adjoining rooms, we went to the front desk, with the bug, to request that all of our rooms are moved. Again, the night manager acted as if we were inconveniencing him. He first advised us that the hotel was almost to capacity and that we would not get three rooms together on another floor. Like magic, however, the new rooms that we received were all in the same hallway, on the same floor, two of which were again adjoining! We checked our new rooms thouroughly for any bed bugs and did not find any. We then went to bed, but did not get much sleep with the thought that bed bugs could be just feet away. What a way to spend New Year’s Eve! The next morning, I called American Express Travel to report the issue. After an hour of busy signals and getting disconnected, I eventually spoke with a supervisor, explained the issue, and requested a full refund for our three rooms. The AmEx supervisor called the hotel’s manager on duty, Francine, on a three-way call. Francine said that she would call me back shortly with more information. She never called me back and I went to the front desk to follow-up. She said that she was authorized by the hotel’s general manager, Shakeel Siddiqu to refund one room and I reported that it was unacceptable. We asked her to call Shakeel back and explain the situation again. She went into the office and supposedly called him back, however, I do not believe that she did. She again said that they would refund one room and would need to call American Express Travel to discuss the issue further. I then asked for a copy of the security report that was filed the night before. She told me that the security office would not give her a copy, but they would give me a copy. I proceeded to the security office in the basement of the hotel and was told that they would not give me a copy of the report until it was reviewed by the director of security. The security personnel is a total joke and more concerned with pointing out wrongs in their colleagues than helping customers. They provided the report number only and said that they would fax the report later. I called American Express Travel and spoke with another supervisor, who, again called the hotel and spoke with Francine. He was advised that the hotel would refund one room and it was policy to follow the hotel’s refund policy. I explained bed bugs in our room was completely unacceptable, however, the supervisor proved incompetent and did not understand the situation at all. I hope that American Express Travel and Travelocity performs its own investigation into the Congress Plaza Hotel and removes it from their sites so that others do not have to experience what we did. Ultimately, it is obvious that the hotel’s lack of concern for its guests stems directly from the hotel’s shady owners and all the way through the incompetent management. I do not think a single member of their staff has any idea was customer service is. I also doubt they know they are working in a service industry! After checking out of the hotel, I performed some due dilligence on the hotel. I wish I would have done so before our stay, rather than trusting American Express Travel. I found that our story is not by any means new or isolated. Members of UNITE HERE Local 1 working at the Congress Hotel have been on strike since 2003 after the hotel decided to freeze wages and slash benefit. The Congress Plaza Hotel simply does not care about its guests or employees. The hotel, its owners, and its management are a disgrace to Chicago, the State of Illinois, and those that choose to run ethical businesses across the United States. This is evidenced by the unwillingness to put an end to the strike and the abundance of other reviews on the Internet. AVOID THE CONGRESS PLAZA HOTEL AT ALL COSTS!

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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10  Thank Levi O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2011

Let's just say that I'm glad that I spent most of my holiday in Chicago actively visiting museums, going on tours, shopping etc. This is not the hotel for people who spend a lot of time in their rooms. I agree with others that the room reeked of cleaning fluids, yet was grimey around baseboards. The air conditioning unit was covered in mold/mildew. The bathroom looked like it had recently been updated but it looked like I did the tiling job (not a good thing). The shampoo and conditioner containers were half full when I checked in. I laughed and just put up with the faults because I convinced myself that the price was somewhat of a bargain. The bed looked clean and I hope that it was! The biggest chuckle was the takeout food containers that someone had left on a window ledge in the hallway and remained there for a day or two. Other than that, the hotel was in a good location and you can walk to any of the major tourist attractions.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled solo
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Thank poopsiebaby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2011

I booked a room here with some apprehension after reading multiple reviews...negative and positive. But, the price was right, so that's why I chose to stay at the Congress Hotel.

Noisy? Kind of, but it's downtown Chicago and with a city comes noise. Personally, I think it adds to the experience. I found the staff to be friendly and helpful. My friend and I arrived before our check-in time, but they already had our room ready, so we were able to drop our luggage off and get settled in...no problems. Definite plus!

As far as the hotel being dated, I found that to be charming. It's an old hotel, full of history, so the little out-dated things here and there were fine with me. Comes with the territory.
The view from my hotel room's window was great, and, no, I didn't have a lake view, just the city.

If you're on a budget, but you want to stay in the downtown area, I definitely recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Emily D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2011

The hotel is located conveniently adjacent Grant Park, but the rooms looking west (like the one I had booked) are looking and listening to the "loop".
The room was big enough, clean and practical. But the fire alarm sat in an ugly hole in the ceiling and the bathroom was small, the toilet only loosely screwed to the ground...
Considering that it once was the first hotel of Chicago, hosting the presidents, it is a little bit disappointing to watch the decline.
The breakfast room is a dismal place without windows, but the food was good.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled on business
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Thank WFR007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center

Address: 520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605-1602
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 #153 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Price Range: $84 - $221 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center 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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