“ Address: 160 E Huron / Chicago / Illinois 60611 / USA „
Avenue Hotel, East Huron Ave, Chicago
I booked a week at this hotel a long time before our trip. I think this was the second thing we booked after Izatys and our flights. We had to be in Chicago for the week end of the 9th June as that was when the Blues festival was and my husband had that festival on his Bucket List of things he wanted to do.
The hotel is part of the Crowne Plaza Group and is very centrally situated a few blocks back from Navy Pier and a pretty easy walk to the river and across to Grant Park where the festival was being held. My son and his girlfriend were joining us so I thought I had booked a suite and would be getting something similar to the place we had at Polo Towers in las Vegas but actually this is a city hotel with city prices and what we got was a room with two double beds and the smallest bathroom we had had in any of the hotels along the way including the cheapie ones. This also didn't include breakfast and had we wanted to keep the hire car it would have cost $50 a day to park it. Luckily we discovered that before we came and dumped the car at O'Hare Airport, met my son from his flight then got a taxi which cost $40 for all of us right to our hotel.
When we arrived we checked in very quickly and were given four key cards for our room which was on the 36th floor. There are three lifts and we have never had to wait too long for one but sometimes they do stop quite a lot on the way up or down.
Our room was a normal sized two double bed room, slightly on the small size. Bearing in mind what we had in Las Vegas I did make my way down to see if there was anything bigger but, no luck there. We were not planning on spending a lot of time in the room but we were a bit disappointed as we thought that we might have a small kitchen. We stayed in a Crown Plaza in Malta and had a great two bedroomed suite so I thought we would get a one bedroomed suite rather than just a room but no matter.
The room had a really good view especially at night of the skyline of Chicago looking over to Trump Towers and the Willis Tower which was a major plus factor. Both beds were very comfortable and actually queen sized as they were pretty big. We had a mini bar which we emptied to put our stuff in so I trust they don't charge us as we haven't drunk any of it. We have a safe and have used it to save carting around extra money, laptops and passports.
We are enjoying a large colour photo of the skyline of Chicago from the lake and a black and white one of a sky scraper but not sure which on the walls. Both beds are all white with a light duvet and also blankets and all cotton quality bedding as well as four pillows per bed and these are also nice and soft. I know both beds are comfortable as on the first night we had the one away from the air conditioner but my son's girlfriend was too cold so we swapped and had the one that blew air con on us all night. The sheets were not changed during our stay but had we wanted them changed we could have put a hanging thingie on our door handle. It seemed a little unnecessary to us and we were happy that the beds were made daily. We were always given clean towels which I was pleased about as I hate soggy towels and we had nowhere to put them to dry properly with four of us in the room using towels.
The large flats screen TV was on a unit with the fridge mini bar on one side and the safe and three drawers on the other. We did have a wardrobe but that was it for storage so we were a bit tight. We repacked all our cold weather clothes and put one case out of the way. Beside this unit was a large desk with a lamp and electricity sockets. We also had a huge computer chair which did stick out a bit into the room but was useful for putting clothes on though. Personally I would have swapped the huge desk for a few drawers to put stuff in and a smaller chair as it really did stick out into the room as it would not tuck under the desk at all.
At the window end of the room was the big air conditioning unit, a comfortable chair in a zebra striped fabric and then a small table with a lamp on it as well as a second larger table with coffee making stuff on it. They only left us two polystyrene cups and two glasses so we had to use the plastic cups that we brought with us with our travel kettle. I thought that was poor and I know I only had to ask for more but I think they should be there and I should not have to ask. They were not always replaced either so I was washing polystyrene cups daily. Luckily we had brought some 'English' mugs as a gift for my son and girlfriend so we had those to use as well.
NOT SO GREAT
The bathroom was tiny and certainly room for only one person in there at a time. You had to shut the door to put the bathmat spread on the floor otherwise there was not enough room. They did leave us plenty of nice white fairly fluffy towels and they changed them daily even though we did hang them up.
There were lots of negatives though and the second was that the rate we paid did not include breakfast and if we had the hotel breakfast it was $17.95 +tax. If you ordered a la carte then a pot of yoghurt was $4, juice the same and cereals were $5. Talk about rip off prices, needless to say we didn't eat there at all.
The next major rip off was that the mini bar we discovered was monitored with a sensor so if you took something out you paid for it even if you replaced it. You were told not to use the fridge for personal items. They filled it so that you couldn't fit anything in unless you took something out. We discovered this after we had taken some bottles out. Apparently you could ask for a fridge and they would bring you one for $20 a week. Talk about ripping every last cent from the guests. I was furious and will be challenging this. If they charge us I will ensure we take the stuff with us but unfortunately they were stupid mini bar prices. Considering the cheapo Econo Lodge gives you a fridge as part of the room rate I think this is a major cheek. Happily they didn't charge us for using the mini bar fridge despite the rude notices about not using it for personal items which saved an argument as there was no way I was going to be paying for stuff I had not used.
Fourthly I asked if they had a guest laundry and the snooty woman on the desk looked at me as though I had asked if I could pee on the floor. "Not in Downtown Chicago, you have to use the hotel laundry service madam." No chance as the prices for that it would be cheaper to buy new knickers rather than pay to wash them. I washed them and hung them in the bathroom; hopefully they haven't monitored that and plan to charge me.
Finally everywhere else we had stayed in the USA we got automatic free wifi in the room. Here it was $10 for 24 hours. You could use the Business suite on level 7 for free and print out anything you wanted in B&W which was good and we also discovered that there was a code to get on the wifi with your own computer but they didn't tell us that we discovered it from another guest. I have all my passwords saved on my laptop so using another computer is not always handy for me. Also sometimes you just want to use the internet in bed in your room without having to make a trip to another floor. We were on floor 36 so getting to floor 7 was a mission as not all the lifts went to that floor and sod's law meant that the only one that came to our floor when we pressed the call button was that lift that did NOT go to level 7!!
OTHER THINGS THAT WERE NOT A RIP OFF
The heated outdoor pool on the penthouse floor was rather nice and gave an excellent view all around the city. Pool towels were provided for the pool and you were not charged for their use. From here you had an excellent view almost all around from towards the river and out to the lake. We were able to enjoy the fireworks on Navy Pier on Wednesday night at 9.30pm from here with a family from Alabama who shared their beers with us.
The Elephant and Castle pub beside the lobby offered much more reasonable breakfasts and drinks. We sat in there to watch the England game. They also did a match predictor and we won two beers by predicting the half time score. Sadly our full time predictions of 2-1 and 3-2 did not bare any fruit nor come to fruition but we were quite thrilled with the free beers.
We also went and watched a second football game and the manager gave us two T shirts with Carlsberg and Euro 2012 on them. The staff in there were lovely but the hotel di NOT tell us that we could charge meals bought in the Elephant & Castle to our room. We paid cash or card and then found this out. This meant that the few hundred dollars we had spent in there during the week would have earned Priority points but annoyingly they could not allocate these points using of already paid receipts. I think the hotel lobby should have told us we could charge those bills to our room and collect points and we should not have had to work this out ourselves.
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
Well I am certainly glad I didn't pay the full price. They wouldn't let me use my Priorty Points card because I had had a cheaper rate through Diamond resorts and then every time we turned around they seemed to charge us extra. This was not a cheap place to stay. It was in a pretty good position but there are any number of hotels in the area and I do think they charged a pretty high price, thankfully it was cheaper than it should have been. I think we paid £600 for the week but if we had stayed a bit further out we might have found it cheaper and got more but never mind. You learn from experience and if we go to another big city in the USA we will shop around a bit more. It was certainly convenient to be one street corner away from the 'Magnificent Mile' and we were able to walk to everywhere we wanted to I guess that is the convenient you pay for. I think if we had not been so spoiled in Las Vegas and Malta with those suite hotels as well as Salt Lake City where we had a huge suite then maybe we would not have been so disappointed in getting just an ordinary two double bed room.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.