Check-in: First, we have to say that women will love this place. This is a theme you'll see as we unravel our tale of our night at the Palomar, beginning with the fact that we were checked in by a handsome man at the front desk who was extremely gracious. Because we are members of Kimpton's InTouch loyalty program (free to join and worth it!), he handed us over the minibar bar and a certificate to take two items from it, for free up to a $10 value. He also explained that the WiFi would be free for InTouch members, and that we should totally come right back down and join in the hosted wine reception currently happening in the lobby.
So there, already we said hello to a nice guy, claimed our bed, free food, free wine and free WiFi.
Room Reaction: As usual, we stayed at the Palomar anonymously and paid with our own good money. As a result, we got a room just like any other guest would: a standard room on the tenth floor, with a king bed. Room 1012. First thing inside the door, we looked down and noticed the very bright, very flowery carpeting. Would a solo male traveler appreciate the decor? Depends on the man, we think; some might not even notice. The hotel might even have a few manlier rooms on reserve, but whatever. It wasn't a distraction anyway, and all the red, gold and touched of imperial art softly evoked some Roman glamor, without going Caesar's Palace-crazy.
The standard bathroom with shower/tub combination wasn't anything special aside from its L'Occitane toiletries, but we thought the entertainment center was. It had two vases on it! We actually picked one up! What hotel trusts its guest with breakable items, unless we're talking 5-star properties? And right under one the vases, we saw it: a complimentary bottle of wine because of our InTouch membership. Joining their loyalty program was looking like the best idea ever, as we removed a bag of chips and some tea from the minibar gratis.
The bed was nice and comfortableno problems thereand we especially appreciate two chocolates and a weather report on our pillows at turndown.
Amenities: The hotel has a full pool, sun deck and fitness on its 17th (top) floor, and we have plenty of pictures of these to bring to you tomorrow. But today, let's discuss the floor of extras. Not only did we get the free WiFI, free bottle of in-room wine and two free items from the minibar, but we kept finding more items open to guests. For one, there's the evening wine reception in the lobby, where a member of the hotel staff will pour you some red or white and chat, if you'd like. In the morning, this switches to coffee and tea, and candy jars in the afternoons.
If you're walking out of the hotel in the morning, you can grab an eco-friendly bottle of water from next to the door. Working out in the fitness room? There's more bottled water up there, and even fresh apples for healthy noshing. It also helps that the hotel has a huge restaurant of its own, Sable, which provides pretty great room service straight up to you if you're not in the mood for "being seen" at their bar.
Internet Connect: Like we said, the internet is free and fast if you're a member of Kimpton's InTouch loyalty program, which is also free. If for some reason you hate free things, you can pay $10 a day for it.
What We Liked: The Hotel Palomar is full of little thoughtful touches, of which we took huge notice. The weather report on the pillow at night, the eco-friendly water bottles by the exit during the day, the free bottle of wine...for a business traveler or tourist alike, these are little smiles. We also loved the 17th floor pool, fitness and sun deck, although they're better used by guests who stay more than one night. We imagined taking our free bottle of wine up to the sun deck with a friend and enjoying a nice evening overlooking downtown Chicago.
We also like the entertainment center, with its flatscreen TV above a nice little nook for laying out your luggage and packing at a comfortable level. Be sure to plug in all your gadget to the round surge protector; we could use one of those at home.
What We Didn't Like: We're tempted to say that we didn't like the fact that we only stayed one night, but there are some flaws. Namely, the fabulous pool area and small sun deck we mentioned earlier felt like a sweet secret. We found the deck ourselves, just out past the pool, but this feature is totally something guests should be aware of. Also, although we enjoyed the free bottle of wine in the room, other guests might not be up for drinking a whole bottle themselves, or having wine at all. We wish they would have offered either a bottle of wine or a certificate for a drink at Sable's bar, since they're apparently all about mixology.
Bottom Line: The Palomar really sets itself apart from other standard hotels by ways of design and complimentary extras. Its location by the Chicago river will make it popular with tourists and businesspeople, but women and oenophiles will love it the most; it's a kid-friendly hotel, but we wouldn't recommend it to a large family. Guests should make use of the extras wherever possible: the wine reception, the morning coffee meetup, the candy jars...and the free wifi and minibar snacks that InTouch membership gets for you. At $139 for the nightwhen we've had friends pay more than that for the Holiday Inn a few blocks overit's simply unbeatable.
[All photos: HotelChatter]