60605 Travel Guide - Page 2
You know the scene. You open the door to your brand new hotel room, run over to the window, open the blinds and bam, you are hit with the anti-view. Maybe you are looking down a dirty alley, witnessing a drug deal, staring at an air shaft in the face, or seeing a brick wall. Whatever you are viewing it is not extremely pleasurable. Help out your fellow hotel mavens by uploading your anti-views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number with the not-so-easy-on-the-eyes view.
How's this for a suspicious advertising tag line: "Spend less on the room and more on the town". We get it: this hotel won't break your budget, but perhaps it's also not the best place in town.
This slogan belongs to the Essex Inn in Chicago and we now know one of the reasons why the hotel's cheaper than a big night out. It's because of this very unappealing anti-view.
If we had the option of sitting in our hotel room and staring out at this unattractive view, or heading out on the town, we'd definitely take the latter--ain't it lucky we'll (apparently) have enough money left over to do that. Of course, we're slightly grateful that the bottom half of the anti-view includes environmentally-friendly solar panels, which redeems it all just a tiny bit.
Ironically, the Essex Inn also offers a "Room with a View" package starting from $149: the view doesn't come from the room, but from the Sears Tower Skydeck! They throw in two tickets with your room. Clever.
This week we will be looking at some Chicago hotels, largely because we realized that we have New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Fran well-covered but really nothing on the Windy City. If you have a question about the city's hotel scene, send it our way and we'll investigate. Even better, if you have hotel recommendation, we wanna hear it.
A tipster wrote in to us yesterday with a bunch of recommendations for Chicago hotels, thus earning a gold star and a strawberry scratch-n-sniff sticker for helping us with the Chicago hotel scene coverage.
Our friend writes:
I lived in Chicago for one year, and the James Hotel in the Loop, after the first few months, is an incredible luxury hotel. Especially when you have the Peninsula and the Park Hyatt just down the street, starting at around $600 a night. The James starts around $250. The Four Seasons is fabulous, as is the Hilton in the South Loop. There is also a pretty new hotel in the South Loop, named the Hotel Blake, with quite a unique restaurant.
Since we've written quite a bit about the James Hotel, we thought we would check in on the Blake, especially now that Nicky O plans for the hotel seem to be in the toilet.
Last month, we liked the Blake for its Good Rate of $129 and recent reviewers like the hotel's convenient location, "2 blks from the Blue Line, 2 blocks from the Red Line, and 2 blocks from the elevated loop trains." Also making guests happy were the free wireless, a "rain shower" shower head, and iPod docks.
Sadly, this hotel has some bad things about it. For starters, there are no dressers, only a tiny closet. Others complained about noise, slow elevators, poor service and some of the room furniture was in bad condition.
Meanwhile, the Custom House restaurant attached to the restaurant got rave reviews and if you're too tired to make it downstairs, they bring the menu to you for room service.
· Hotel Blake reviews [TripAdvisor]
[Ed. Note: Welcome to our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature where we look at hotel prices in the same city and decide which is better worth your hard-earned benjamins. Rates are changing all the time--this rate was good at time of publication. Good luck out there.]
Meanwhile, $129 double in a nice boutique hotel in downtown Chicago is a deal. Guests praise the Blake's 400 square-foot rooms, comfy beds with nice sheets, radios with an iPod connection, and spacious baths with double vanities and rain showers;. The service gets high marks and the location is walking distance to Millenium Park and the train.
This deal is good through the rest of February. Just call 312-986-1234 or select "promotion" when reserving on the web.
How do we sleep while the bed linens are burning?
That must have been what guests staying at the Hilton Chicago were asking yesterday when a linen closet caught fire on one of the floors. The hotel was partially evacuated by the fire department but guests complained that there were no fire alarms ringing.
What if someone was taking a shower or something?" said tourist Beena Simon.
The guests sat outside across the street from the hotel with their suitcases. Hilton's room service staffers did deliver cold drinks to those who had to wait until they could return to their rooms.
There's no word on what caused the fire but we find this highly disturbing. Not because of the fire but because hotels routinely set off their fire alarms for tests (sometimes in the middle of the night) and in the event of an actual fire, the alarms didn't go off.
Isn't that what all those tests are for?