March 8, 2012
This is the second of a four part Chicago trip report: 1) getting there; 2) lodging; 3) eating; and 4) stuff to do.
This photo of Chicago is courtesy of TripAdvisor
When looking for a hotel to stay in, we found a bunch of good options. We were tempted by great rates at the Doubletree, the Westin, two different W’s, and even the new Radisson Blu. By the time we decided to go with the Radisson Blu, the great rate we had seen had disappeared. So, we took another look and stumbled upon a $130 government rate at the upscale Conrad hotel. Yes, there were good alternatives for as low as $90 per night, but we chose the Conrad for a few reasons: location, breakfast, and upgradeability.
The Conrad is in a terrific location just north of the river on Michigan Avenue. True, its address doesn’t say “Michigan Avenue”, but it is connected to the Nordstrom mall which opens to Michigan Avenue. If we were into shopping (which we are not), this location would be perfect for that alone. However, it’s still really good as a base for just about anything to do in downtown Chicago. Other than the initial cab ride from the train station to the hotel, we walked everywhere we wanted to go for the weekend.
I’m particular about breakfasts when I’m on the road. I like to eat in a nice, calm setting with good food. And, I prefer an in-hotel breakfast so that I can retreat briefly to my room before tackling the day. And, of course, I like it best when I don’t have to pay for breakfast! Yes, it’s true that many low to mid tier hotels offer free breakfast, but they usually don’t do so well with the “nice, calm, and good food” requirements. So, for me, the best option is an upscale hotel with free breakfast.
When we checked in at the Conrad, we were given two breakfast vouchers per night thanks to my Hilton Gold status. I mentioned to the desk clerk that we had three people in the room and so he gave me two more vouchers! The text on the vouchers claimed to be for continental breakfast only, but when we showed up for breakfast the next morning we were told that we could have either the full buffet or $14 towards anything on the breakfast menu. Sweet! And, while the buffet wasn’t very expansive, everything on it was very good. There’s nothing like a free, high quality breakfast to start the day!
When I booked the room online, I was given the option to upgrade to a suite for 20,000 points per night. I declined. Since I made the reservations only one day in advance, I felt confident that suites would still be available when we checked in. Sure enough, when we arrived we were given the King Deluxe Suite! The Suite had two full baths, a living room, bedroom with king bed, and HD TVs with Bose sound systems. Very nice!
Sorry about the grainy pictures:
The windows shown above look out onto Michigan Avenue and the Hotel Intercontinental which is directly across the street.
Overall, the Conrad turned out to be a great choice. We will definitely return (if we can find a rate that good, or better, in the future). Oh, and regarding the government rate: my wife is technically a state government employee because she works for a state University, so we were prepared to show her ID if needed. No, they didn’t ask to see it, but I can’t promise you’ll be as lucky…
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