When I attended the Chicago Auto Show earlier this month I had the pleasure of staying at the Essex Inn of Chicago. Even though I live in the Chicago area, I am about 1 hour from downtown Chicago in traffic, longer during rush hour. So when I can I choose to stay downtown for events that span more than one day. This way I can avoid the hassle of traffic and high parking rates.
In a world of huge downtown hotels, the Essex Inn is a smaller family-owned inn that has been in business since 1961. The Essex Inn is not a franchise. It is a one and only. The inn includes 254 guest rooms which may sound small compared to some of the larger hotels, but I think that is a great size for bringing in family, or even hosting a small conference. As you look around the inn you can see that there have been many recent updates, some still going on. The Essex Inn offers a few different guest rooms with a king bed, double queen, or suites with separate sitting areas to fit you and your family. Rooms are comfortable, spacious, and include a desk, plenty of outlets (important to me), and a mini-fridge.
- 254 Guest Rooms
- 3 Banquet Rooms
- 1 Board Room
- 1 Media Room (currently being upgraded)
- Restaurant (Brasserie by LM ) with beautiful private dining room
- Large Pool
- Large Fitness Facility
- Outdoor Patio
- Indoor Valet Parking
- Close to Downtown
- Shuttle Service (stops running early)
- Free (but slow) WiFi
As I took a tour of the hotel I was quite impressed by all of the amenities offered, especially the amazing indoor swimming pool.
There is also a great fitness room that provides a great view of the pool area.
From outside, or even from the lobby it does not appear that so much is tucked in there. Besides the pool and fitness center, there is space for conferences. There is also a free shuttle that takes you to some of the hotspots downtown. Sadly, I did not get to try out the shuttle because the times did not match my schedule. It stops running a bit early and is not timed for downtown nightlife. However, it is nice that they do offer the service.
Some of the rooms offer spectacular views of Michigan Ave, the Museum Campus, Buckingham Fountain, Lake Michigan, the Sears Tower, and Downtown Chicago. I can just imagine what the below photo will look like when everything is not covered in snow. I look forward to seeing this view when it’s sunny and green. 🙂
- Just outside of busy downtown Chicago
- Low rates
- Free shuttle
- Several amenities
Cramped bathrooms: As mentioned the inn has recently undergone renovations. I was told that some of the bathrooms got a face-lift. However, as a result, they are a bit small, and the sink is tiny. But, it gets the job done. How much time do you need to spend with the sink anyway? 🙂
Bad Guest Behavior: This is not a complaint about the hotel, but a complaint about hotel guest etiquette. I had a rather unsettling experience when I was there. I arrived at around 8:30pm. When I got off the elevator on my floor there was a little girl running down the hall playing. I thought “uh oh, this is not a good sign.” However, I also realized that it was still *early* and that there was no way she would be out there playing much longer. But, I could hear people out there while I unpacked and settled in. However, I was watching TV so some of the noise was drowned out. I did not last long. I was EXHAUSTED. I think that I started drifting off at around 9:45 or so. I gave up and turned everything off to sleep.
Unfortunately, I was awakened around 10:30 by more noise in the hall. At first, I hoped that it was just someone going to their room. I realized that they were not moving, but I waited a few minutes. I mean, it was late… who hangs out in the hallway of a hotel right outside someone’s room late at night? I opened the door about 10 minutes later. There was a woman standing right in front of my door. I asked her to please keep it down and said that I had been dealing with this noise since I checked in. She apologized but did not move. From what I could tell it was a family occupying 2 rooms, one right across the hall from me, and another next door to me. Instead of them going into one of the rooms to chat and/or play they chose to use the hallway as their *family room*. Who does that???
Just as I decided that I was fed up and I was going to call the desk I heard a big booming manly voice in the hall. They all went inside after that. I am not sure if it was hotel security, or another annoyed guest more intimidating than myself. Luckily the next night was quiet by bedtime. However, they were still using the hallway as their playground throughout the day. Every time I entered or left my room they were in the hall. At one point the mother was even sitting cross-legged on the floor in the hallway while her daughter ran up and down the hall in her bikini. At the other end of the hall was her son playing with a ball. :\ Again… who does that? I sure hope that this was an isolated incident. These were obviously bad guests which is not exactly the hotel’s fault.
Other than that my experience at the inn was very good! The bed was comfy. The room was clean. And the staff was very pleasant. One of the parking attendants even retrieved my forgotten boots from my van for me.
I would definitely recommend the Essex Inn to someone looking for a good room in downtown Chicago. With many packages available that include shows, shopping, and more for families to enjoy Chicago it offers great value.
Disclosure: My room at the Essex Inn was comped in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.