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“Great location - Clean but needs a little TLC”

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The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center
Ranked #153 of 192 Hotels in Chicago
Reviewed July 26, 2014

This hotel is in a GREAT location - right across from Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, a short walk to The Chicago Art Institute, a short walk to Millennium Park and the Bean, and an easy walk to Museum Campus.
Our room was spacious and clean. Yes, it was old and needed a bit of refurbishing - update the furnishings, take care of the chipped paint, etc.(I totally get The Shining references about the hallways in some of the reviews I read), but it has such character - wonderful tall ceilings, thick moldings, beautiful lobby, old, gold mail drop -- just so many details that a newer hotel does not offer.
Our room, linens and bathroom were all clean.
All of the staff that we encountered was nice.
I really wish that the owners would undertake a major refurbishing of this hotel because it has the potential to be a magnificent, historic hotel.
The bed provided a good night's sleep, but it wasn't the most comfortable hotel mattress I've slept on. The room was a little dark, and we were in the north tower which did not provide a good view. However, I would think that the rooms on the front would provide great views.
If you are looking for a hotel in a great location and can overlook the need for refurbishing (like many older, historic hotels need), this would be a hotel you should consider.

  • Stayed: July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank MeganHernando_MS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,353 - 1,359 of 2,847 reviews

Reviewed July 24, 2014

In May 2014 I spent twice some days at this hotel. Once in the North Tower and once in the South Tower. The rooms were almost identitcal, but the South was a bit less shabby than the North. The rooms were old standards, with somewhat problematic light, so that it was impossible to read in bed for example. The view, however, was splendid. THe people on the frontdesk were extremely impolite, while the other staff was ok. One night we har problems with young people having a party, but a call to the reception fixed this immediately. Ghosts I first heard of now, when I read the other reviews and must say that I do not believe in them and it neither occurred to me that there should be anything of this kind in the hotel.

Room Tip: The higher you go in the north and south tower the better view you get
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  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled on business
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank SnailNorway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2014 via mobile

This hotel is in a convenient location. Hotel has great historical value but needs serious renovations. Room was adequate, fairly clean, but completely outdated. Bed was comfortable, better than I expected. The free wifi connection was horrible. We had an inside room(not view) and it was so dark and quiet everyone slept in. Overall, it was mediocre.

Stayed: July 2014
1  Thank Gris115
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2014

We stayed three nights in July 2014 while visiting family and playing tourist in Chicago. No, we didn't see the famous ghost of the old hotel.
Reservations - made over the phone. We couldn't book our third night until somebody cancelled. The people on the phone were quite courteous. And they didn't ask us to move rooms for the extra night.
Quite a disconnect between the prices shown on the hotel's web page and what the human told us over the phone (the human was cheaper). A bed-and-breakfast combination which was offered on the web wasn't available over the phone (huh?)
Value --- a 4. At $189 for Friday and Saturday it was expensive but quite reasonable for the market. Downtown Chicago hotels were quite full that weekend with several major events going on.
Check-In --- although busy was smooth, they had our reservation with the change from 2 to 3 nights correct.

The building --- It's a big old brick pile of a classic downtown hotel building, right out front on Michigan Ave, looking out over Grant Park. The lobby area is classic "grand hotel" and is thankfully well preserved.
Good news, bad news: many little cues remind you of the historicity of the building, like the solid marble baseboards (!) in the halls and the wrought-iron grillwork on the stairs. The marble is pretty scuffed up from 110 years, and the wrought iron looks like it has at least 20 coats of paint, but oh well.
Where else but in a big, old, hotel do you see their emblem on everything from the carpet to the towels to the wallpaper (yes, wallpaper!). Did they know when the place was built in 1895 that the "CH" pattern would be the emblem of the Chicago Blackhawks' rival, the Club Habitant (Montreal Canadiens).

Service --- a 5. Thanks for accommodating my bike. Virtually all staff we interacted with were very friendly.

Sleep Quality --- a 4 - good bed
Cleanliness --- a 4 - Passed the dust bunny test although the bottom cover of the box spring was shredding.

Location --- a 5 - is super. Right across from Grant Park. There was a whack of events going on within a two block radius: two open air concerts, running marathon, fireworks Saturday night.

Room --- good sized and the 10 foot (plus?) high ceilings gave the impression of more space.
Bathroom small. Thankfully a real bath tub. A mixture of new and old fixtures; a little funky although everything worked. There is no counter to speak of.
Noise --- a 4 - pretty good considering the busy downtown area. Mercifully the air conditioner emits a steady low drone (on low fan), doesn't startle you by cutting in and out.

Parking is expensive (although maybe not by downtown Chicago standards) and problematic.

Food - we bought a couple of breakfasts in the "Gazebo" room. At $20 the breakfast buffet is probably well priced for downtown Chicago; we've seen bigger breakfast buffets but it had all we wanted. A la carte is a little cheaper if you don't want a big breakfast. Special diet - they were pretty clueless re: gluten and dairy free.

Gym - I looked in on the exercise room, seemed pretty minimally equipped.

Amenities ...
Internet - both wired and wireless available. The wireless is pretty funky, requiring you to go through multiple screens on your browser to log in. We used the wired connection. It is reasonable speed: seen better, seen a lot worse.
Coffee maker - supplied, thanks for decaf' coffee in the room. No tea.
Fridge - none although they will rent you one for an additional charge.
TV - so-so for channel selection, has the annoying feature of turning on to the hotel's ad channel.

Check-Out was smooth although very busy, billing was accurate

  • Stayed: July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank energizer090
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2014 via mobile

Staff is Unfriendly!! Room sucks. Air conditioner was not enough to cool off the bathroom let alone the room, bed was horrible, pillows like rocks, I paid for the view and it was a great one, I paid for early check in and my room WAS NOT ready!!!!

Stayed: July 2014
3  Thank Diana H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2014

My husband & I decided on a weekend trip to Chicago via Amtrak. I booked a lakeside view room at the Congress. While the room was small & had some cosmetic blemishes it was perfect for us. The location was great & there is a restaurant/bar on site. Our lake view room overlooked Grant Park & the fountain. All of the staff we had contact with at the hotel & restaurant were excellent. We would not hesitate to stay there again!

Room Tip: Select a lake view room. Beautiful!
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  • Stayed: July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Lisa G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2014

I read many reviews and was a little apprehensive in staying here. It's supposed to be the most haunted hotel in Chicago! I checked in late in the evening. My room was a bit of an old smell to it but was bearable and otherwise good. The bed was comfortable and clean. The bathroom was updated with a great shower. I'd recommend you NOT stay on the 2nd floor! The city traffic and the train were very loud and hindered my sleep the first night. I wasn't bothered by any ghosts or strange feelings, noises (other than traffic) or anything like that.

It's located in a block away from the lake, near the bean and a really pretty fountain, all in Grant park. There are Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts near. The subway and the L are both close as well.

Room Tip: Higher floors have less traffic and train noise.
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  • Stayed: July 2014, traveled on business
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank Amanda J
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: $80 - $215 (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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