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“So historic...you can take the smell with you as a free gift”

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The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center
Ranked #149 of 189 Hotels in Chicago
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“So historic...you can take the smell with you as a free gift”
Reviewed April 21, 2013

The marketing person for this hotel is the only reason why anyone comes to this place. It photographs much better than it really is, and there is a reason why they don't show you any of the baby blue bathrooms or the hallways or any of the views from the interior rooms. I tried to stay optimistic after entering the lobby with my family for a nice birthday weekend for my parents. I've stayed at many hotels downtown and was expecting a similar experience for this special occasion. After seemingly bothering the registration staff with checking in, I was hopeful that the rooms were at least like the pictures on the website, but as soon as we got off the elevators, I knew I had made a mistake. Typically I find that negative reviews are overly critical, but not this time. The moment I stepped into my room, it smelled old and musty. The view was so terrible that it was better to try and close the blinds and ignore that the room even had a window. The only positive was that the windows could open because the room was so hot, but since the windows didn't have a screen, and bugs had made their home out on the fire escape directly in front of the windows I decided against it. As I went to go sit down on the bed, the headboard bounced off of the wall to hit me in the head, It wasn't even screwed in. The hotel must have been furnished from a garage sale by the mix and match decor that was badly painted to try and make it look current. As I walked into the restroom I was greeted with so much baby blue the inspiration must have been Lake Michigan. The experience reached new levels when the toilet rocked so much when sitting on it, it was a miracle it didn't fall off the wax ring. The most embarrassing part was that there was no sound privacy even with the fan on to any of the other guests in the room. The most positive aspect was a clean iron board and iron and an unlimited amount of places to plug it in as there was ungrounded outlet about every foot around the entire baseboard of the room. Being a manger of a historic Daniel Burnham high rise, I expected vintage not old and poorly maintained. If I could have got my money back, I would have gladly moved my family to a hotel that was properly cared for. I would suggest saving money on the monogrammed sheets and towels and properly fix the cracked bathroom tiles without just pouring glue on them. I was so embarrassed to bring my family here that I couldn't shake my poor attitude the entire weekend so we took as many tours as possible to stay out of the hotel. As I checked out, the desk clerk didn't even ask how my stay was because I am sure she didn't want to know as her manger probably doesn't care enough to do anything about it. Happy to be home now and wash my clothes of their "vintage" odor.

Room Tip: Stay elsewhere
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
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3 Thank Gabe F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Dallas, Texas
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed April 16, 2013

The staff are very nice and go above & beyond!! And keeping in mind that this hotel was built in the 1800's.... The room size was large and spacious but the accomodations were lacking... the mattress was horrible; the baseboards/crown molding were cracking & pealing paint; furniture was tattered & scratched; the vent units are in poor shape and you can't control your room temperature; the door in my bathroom had mold growing on it and the obviously old ceiling tiles in the bathroom looked like they would fall at any minute. The hallways and rooms also reek of Febreeze. I was so dissapointed when I got to my room..... I hope they are able to rennovate soon - the location is perfect! Breakfast at the Gazebo was delicious. However, I don't believe I will stay here again.

Room Tip: Rooms on the South side are quieter - on the North side the very noisy L train goes by (I was in a c...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled on business
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2 Thank Kim T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Chicago hotels

Fort Wayne, Indiana
Level Contributor
19 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed April 15, 2013

If you need a place to sleep in Chicago, this is probably the least expensive but still in a relevant area. The rooms appeared to be clean and were spacious. The decor is tacky and George Washington probably had the same furniture. The electric outlets in the wall look like a cell phone charger might cause a fire. We were questioning the overall safety of the building because it looks like it hasn't been renovated ever. Just some new paint on the cracked and decaying woodwork.

Room Tip: The walls are paper thin. Just hope there isn't a bunch of college kids staying on your floor.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank ashleynicole75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
34 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed April 11, 2013 via mobile

It's not the worst hotel I've stayed at. It's definitely past its hey-day and is very shabby chic. I ended up on the 12th floor overlooking Lake Michigan. I found the room to be small but clean. The bed wasn't the most comfortable but good enough. Sufficient hot water in the morning, the windows opened for fresh air and to cool down the otherwise warm room, and there was cable TV. The hotel is close to the Art Intitute and public transportation. The only downside: no free wifi. For the price I found it to be suitable for my week-long stay in Chicago.

Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Greencolander
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Deerfield
Level Contributor
22 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed April 10, 2013

This hotel was a major disappointment. Be advised, if you book via hotwire or other discount sites, they will put you on the 12th floor or in one of their worst rooms. We complained because our room was small, smelled like smoke and had cigarette burns on floor. We paid $25 to get a room with a King bed bed. Rooms haven't been updated or cleaned since 1850. We paid around $130 for the night. We met another couple in the elevator going down to dinner who had to move rooms as well because their sheets were dirty. Staff was rude during initial check and when we called down to move rooms. The manager was accommodating but this hotel is worth the hassle. The room were hot and stuffy. Their was no A.C. or room comfort control. It felt like staying at the hotel from the movie The Shining. There are too many other hotels in the Loop that are better. Be advised is want to book this hotel. You'll be disappointed. Their definition of Old World Charm is not the the same as what you would expect from other similar type properties. What a complete dump!!!!!!!!!

Room Tip: Stay at a different hotel.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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5 Thank adammichael77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Level Contributor
119 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed April 10, 2013

When you arrive and walk through the doors, you initially feel you have traveled back almost 100 years as you see that most of the original design has survived. You almost feel as if you are going to see men wearing suits and bowlers and women in long dresses underscored by tight corsets, but reality hits as you see people dressed in the most mundane and pitiful clothes this country or any other has ever produced.
My family and I were visiting on business and felt that this piece of history deserved a chance, but immediately we could see the stress of the faces of the employees as they tried to take care of and even fend off the hordes of people that overwhelmed the check in desks. We happened to arrive at a weekend when there was to be a running event and although I was a runner in my more carefree youth, the attitude of the people staying there left way too much to be desired.
After checking in and having our bags taken up to the room (yes, you can still have that done there), we settled into the bar still employing bartenders dressed in white shirts and had a delicious but light meal and drinks. Up to the room to find it as expected for a building greater than a century old: smallish but elegant in its simplicity. The temperature was unseasonably warm that day and a bit more air conditioner or even the ability to open a window was needed, but it still sufficed.
After returning from an event out is when the experience declined. While sitting in the bar, sipping on a cocktail, and watching the NCAA basketball semi-finals, we were invaded by a group of youths obviously too young to imbibe alcohol who arrived from their "prom on the water" to immediately stand and block view of every television screen in the place. I had to get at least one of them to move out of the way, but he was soon replaced by hordes of others. I finally resigned myself to the knowledge that the youth of today know few, if any, manners and watched the end of the game through long strands of disjointed hair sticking violently into the air.
After sleeping through the rest of the night in comfortable beds, we arose the next day to battle the runners who crowded the elevators as they rode to the ground floor (obviously, there seems something wrong with this picture). Then we finished packing and brought our bags down to the lobby. This was the final straw as we had to split up in order to safely ride the elevators while carrying the suitcases. My petite wife, with the smallest bag, waited to catch an elevator last and after trying to unsuccessfully squeeze into an almost full elevator she gave up and took the stairs when the middle aged man on board refused to move in a bit and told her to "[--] off." Nice attitude.
Last, but not least, getting the car out of the parking garage was another horror story as the mob of runners blocked most access to the street. Well, that is another story. Suffice it to say that the hotel is fine and an interesting piece of history, but it is ruined by our own lack of manners.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank S B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Coopersville, Michigan, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 9, 2013

We were intrigued by the historical relevance of the hotel, and after checking out the hotel website, we were excited about the great deal we got from Groupon...however, as the saying goes, when it seems to good to be true - it usually is! I'd like to call it character, but the fact is this place is just too old to be comfortable...or safe! Our 12th floor room was very small - couldn't open the bathroom door all the way because it hit the bed, and couldn't walk around the bed because the register was up against it...fire hazard! The heat cranked all night - no temperature control in our room, bad odors in the hall, parking garage is scary & the people running the garage are abrupt & rude...we witnessed 2 other guests with vehicle security issues during our stay. The restaurant & lounge were not operating, the furnishings, carpet & walls throughout are in poor shape - and that is being kind. Peeling wallpaper, cracked ceilings, trim on windows, doors, baseboards is warped, badly chipped, and coming away from the walls. As for the "haunted" rumors, no paranormal activity during our stay except for the TV turning on by itself, and the discovery of several secret doors & passages that reveal sights that are less than pleasant, downright scary. This hotel must fall under some grandfather clause that keeps it from shutdown - it simply can't be up to code! Even without Groupon, it's cheap - but be warned, you get what you pay for...and do not be fooled by the hotel website photos...nothing is even close to as pictured...serious photo editing that equates to shameful false advertising. Crazy enough, the place was packed - but I would not return.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Mindy S
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

Property: 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 #149 of 189 Hotels in Chicago
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
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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