I stayed at the Blackstone Hotel on Michigan Avenue for two days during Thanksgiving week. I chose the "Parking Package" which gave me a room and valet parking for $149 per night (normal parking rate is $75 per night).
The Blackstone is an older-style hotel with a great location. An extensive renovation was completed a few years ago. There are guest rooms on floors 6 through 23 (the big fancy suites are on the 23rd floor). The hotel boasts an extensive art collection displayed throughout the hotel including in guest rooms. I had a large corner room with three windows facing Lake Michigan and a fourth window facing the Hilton across the street.
Entry hall to the room (window faces Lake Michigan)
View of room from entry hall (bathroom on right with sliding door)
View of the room facing Lake Michigan
View of the room from the desk. (Mirrored door opens on a large closet with safe)
The large bathroom with a walk-in shower
Pump bottle bath amenities (Sorry, no little bottles for those of you looking for souvenirs. Only the body lotion comes in a small bottle)
And the soap, which seems to be a proprietary brand (and yes, the soap itself is black!)
The room was more than adequate (even a bit spacious) but not a suite. But I did enjoy watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan in the morning, and the view from my room on the 17th floor was stupendous.
Sunrise over Lake Michigan with Shedd Aquarium in the foreground right and Adler Planetarium in the center.
The Lounge is on the Concourse Level, one floor below the main desk. The breakfast is a typical lounge breakfast, but with enough choices to make it substantial. The small plates make it difficult to fit things on a single plate. Inevitably one ends up using a second plate. The evening choices are good, even somewhat creative for lounge fare. In the evening there is an honor bar with wine, beer, and liquor.
THE GOOD: I'd stay there again with the parking deal if I could get the same excellent rate. The room I had was comfortable even though it wasn't a suite. The hotel is easily within walking distance of the Art Institute, and I spent a whole date there. During the summer, a walk through Millennium Park or over to the Aquarium would not be out of the picture. Navy Pier would be a bit of a hike, but doable.
The room has fun things it: colored pencils and a local coloring book; fun facts about the hotel on coasters and notepads; interesting books on the bookshelf in the room; real glasses in the room and the bathroom.
The bed was very comfortable.
THE BAD: It's the little things that make a good hotel great. Unfortunately, I'd only rank the Blackstone as "Good." Here are some things that made the hotel less than perfect:
1) Barking dog--When I arrived, there was a barking dog in the room next to me. Clearly the owners had left the animal alone in its room. I contacted the front desk and they said that they would take care of it. I returned to my room after visiting the Lounge, and security was outside the door knocking on it, which only made the dog bark more. I went back down to the lounge for another glass of wine. I don't know what happened, but when I returned, I didn't hear the dog anymore, so maybe the occupants were removed to another room.
2) The switch for one of the lights near the bed was somewhat inoperable by the second day. The switches have an incorporated dimmer that seems a bit tricky to work. At first I wasn't sure if I was doing it right, but by day two I figured that the switch itself just needed to be replaced.
3) On the first night I was there, someone left two wine glass on a counter across from the elevator. The next morning I noticed that the glasses were still there. AND they were there through the entire day and into the night. Sometime in the middle of the second night they were taken away. Housekeeping certainly wasn't on the ball.
4) The on-site restaurant is not that exciting. Mercat is a tapas place. I ordered the calamari which were either fried in old oil or over-cooked. The dessert I ordered, a Spanish creme brulee was supposed to come with pistachio ice cream but instead had a scoop of lemon sorbet on it. Instead of apologizing, the waiter said, "I could see how that would work." It was left to one of the busboys to fix it, and I was given the excuse that the guy doing desserts is new. Won't eat there again.
5) I asked for turn down service on my second night just to see what it would be like. I called about 5 pm, but it never happened. When I mentioned it to the front desk the next day, the clerk offered MR points as compensation which I gratefully accepted. I haven't seen those points added to my account either.
All in all, if you can get a really good rate at the Blackstone I think it is worth it for a downtown Chicago hotel. But given the collection of faux pas that accumulated, I wouldn't give it any kind of top rating.