It's impossible to make a grand entrance to Longman & Eagle for the pure fact that guests walk in two steps and stop at reception, which doubles as the hostess stand for the whole hopping restaurant. We handed over our credit card, get a receipt and room key, and were directed to walk back out and around the corner to the side entrance.
It was cocktail hour and we were getting crazy hungry, with two equally crazy hungry friends in tow. Could they get a table and start ordering while we dropped off our luggage in our room? Nope. The hostess refused to seat them until our party was complete. Ummshouldn't there be a preference at the restaurant for people staying there, or at least a little rule-bending, especially as the restaurant often gets so busy that there's a long wait? Guess not!
After that weird reception left a bad taste in our mouths, we really hopes the room would make up for it. Good news: it did. For $75, we got more stuff and a better location for getting to our early morning flight than most far more expensive hotels downtown. The funky decora "Help Wanted: No Hippies" sign greeted usplus the more casual atmosphere was reminiscent of Ace Hotels. We liked!
The $75 bought us a comfortable double bed, long desk, Apple TV, free WiFi, a unique toilet/shower combo stall, a small closet nook, two free pours of whiskey, bottled tap water, and a window with absolutely no view. For one night and a welcome departure from standard hotels, it was totally perfect.
Longman & Eagle gets brownie points for so many extras, it's crazy. We've already told you about the complimentary whiskey, but don't forget the WiFi, Apple TV, occasional cassette tape player, and original artwork and finishes. On top of this, the bathroom has dispensers of Essentiel Elements and Kevin Murphy hair products. Walk right downstairs for one of the most buzzed-about (for good reason) restaurants and bars in Chicago, too.
Free, fast and easy. Just like it should be.
What We Liked:
If there's something we really appreciate, it's a truly unique place to stay that fills a need in a city. Chicago was craving a place like this, and if an Ace Hotel isn't going to show up anytime soon, then Longman & Eagle it is. The cherry on top of the place's good vibes were the cheap prices, neighborhood location away from downtown, and those awesome amenities. It also probably helped that once we did get seated for dinner, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel was right next to us (he's a regular).
What We Didn't Like;
It's getting harder and harder to get a room here, and this review will probably only make it worse. That said, it's totally worth trying. We also weren't enthralled with the view of the ventilation system directly out our window, and also the rooms are not soundproofed, so those staying here usually burn the midnight oil or stay downstairs drinking until last call. Preferred seating for guests should be a given, but unfortunately it is not.
Longman & Eagle is definitely for the Ace crowd; a cooler, younger set that doesn't mind restaurant noise, free whiskey and a social media-savvy property. If you've been to Chicago, love Chicago and are looking for a breath of fresh air, try here (and tell us what you think after, of course). Many of the guests are locals themselves, so that tells you something very positive about the success of this place. Book early and don't be afraid to order the bone marrow or pork soda.
[Photos and video: Cynthia Drescher for HotelChatter]