There are many luxury hotels to choose from in Chicago. However, the hotel that we go back to time and time again is the InterContinental with its perfect location along the Magnificent Mile. Researching the buildings history I discovered that the original structure dates back to the 1920’s when it was once an athletics club. Careful restoration work throughout the years has ensured that history is preserved.
Two guest towers at the hotel provide just over 800 guest rooms and suites with the north tower being added in 1961. Building permission was granted in 2005 to demolish the north tower and build one twice the size that would also offer condominiums. The lackluster economic climate has shelved this plan for the time being. The historic tower guest rooms have been renovated recently and now offer Italian marble in the bathrooms although it was the ‘busy’ carpet designs that caught our eye.
Trivia: There is an observatory inside the dome at the top of the building. The dome was actually designed as part of a docking system for dirigibles but after the Hindenburg disaster travel by blimp lost its appeal.
We usually request a room in the historic tower as we like the somewhat quirky design. There are over 175 different room configurations in the historic tower. The bank of elevators to reach the guest rooms is quite a sight – be careful to select the correct elevator for the floor you wish to visit.
The rooms have all the usual amenities; magazines to read, selection of toiletries, hairdryer, coffee making facility, and a stocked mini bar. I loved the large mirror on the wall by the main door in our Executive King Room.
Tip: There is a charge for wifi in the guest rooms but IHG Rewards Club members get free wifi at all hotels and resorts in the group. Sign up is free and easy here.
The swimming pool is well worth a visit to admire the design. The pool is located on the 14th floor, quite the engineering feet when originally built. The indoor junior Olympic-sized pool was frequently used by the Tarzan actor (and Olympic athlete) Johnny Weismuller and by Esther Williams. The adjoining gym is very well equipped and it seems that they have finally stopped charging the additional fee to use this facility (great decision IHG). There is also a spa on this floor offering a variety of massages including aromatherapy, hot stone, and reflexology.
Tip: Check the hotels main website for notification of renovations. As an example the pool and gym will be closed Feb 1 through March 31, 2016 – this would be a big deal for us.
There are a number of dining options at the InterContinental. The Michael Jordan’s Steak House offers quite the formal setting to enjoy a hand selected dry-aged steak. If you want to sample Jordan’s’ favorite dishes, but don’t wish to be quite so formal, then head over to the Michael Jordan bar and lounge on the ground floor instead. The lounge has a sports bar kind of feel. There are large flat screen televisions on the walls and local craft beers on display.
There is a wine tasting restaurant offering various flights of wines so you can sample a few different varieties. Many of the food options are excellent sharing plates. We love the various cheese plates and can usually not resist finishing our meal with a chocolate plate. I was a little disappointed to discover that they do not offer tea or coffee in this restaurant as after a day of traveling I would have loved a caffeine boost to go with my chocolate.
Having stayed at this hotel many times there is a certain comfort level that we have developed from knowing its layout and the way the hotel ‘works’. That said, this hotel offers the ideal location to explore downtown Chicago. We have always found the staff quite courteous and accommodating. Be aware that the hotel does provide quite extensive meeting facilities. Therefore you do run into the ‘conference crowd’ quite often. By comparison to many of the other downtown Chicago luxury hotels, the InterContinenal offers excellent value for money. Also be aware that the hotel offers runs various promotions throughout the year. I would recommend that you take a closer look on your next visit to Chicago.
Address: 505 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Website: Click here
Other Info: Pets allowed, Parking available
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