Sadly, my go-to favorite in Chicago – the Renaissance on the river – was out of my price range, so I decided to give the AC Chicago Downtown a try. The price was right (), the stay was satisfactory, and ... well ... many other observations, below:
- My bottom line: My experience with AC in Italy was (significantly) more positive than here (but, in all fairness, the AC in Florence was quite nice and well managed); as a general rule, returning to Chicago, I’ll pay the extra $$ for the Renaissance (which I really enjoy);
- as a bargain option, I’d say this compares favorably with a Courtyard (and, for many, the design is more European, trendy).
- Central location downtown, not far from the River – only a block or two from the Marriott; close to Eataly (one of my favorite things in the City – can’t wait to get one in DC!) - Had a WONDERFUL dinner there last night! If you've never tried one, I can't recommend it enough!!!;
- Upgraded to a large and comfortable “City Room” with a real balcony - view was nothing special (pic is a mobile phone pic only, but accurate) - but a balcony is a balcony ... even if there's no furniture on it;
- Fully functional work surface/desk; plus lots of well-placed, functional outlets....
- Very long wall bench in room, plus a comfortable lounging chair;
- Open closet (no door) design is spacious but a bit … unusual;
- Modern, stark, simple, clean design – wood floor (no carpet);
- frustratingly dark (or insufficient lamp wattage) despite large balcony glass door/window;
- Efficient (almost Spartan, but stylish) bathroom and shower;
- Greek/Euro brand toiletries - nothing special, but fully satisfactory;
- New-ish divided trash can/recycling container! HOORAY!
- Shockingly (disappointingly) loud – lots of street noise – everything: sirens, engines, horns, pedestrian chatter…. ARGH! Hotel would do well to offer ear plugs (or place some on the night stands, as you see in many urban properties).
- (Very) small pool (OK for lounging, not really a swimming pool) and a satisfactory work out room/gym;
- No concierge lounge – but there’s a hotel bar and lounge which is quite comfortable – although a bit of a ghost town when I swung by in the evening;
- returned for breakfast – a very mixed experience – when I arrived no signage/no menus (this didn’t change), and … a buffet – was it free? fixed fare? pay by the pound? Who knows? (eventually a staff member appeared and confirmed it was a $15 flat fee, which I considered reasonable … but most folks I saw enter the lounge stopped, looked around, and asked the same Q I did… seems like an unnecessary omission!) ... Regular coffee available in dispensers … and a (prominently located) Nespresso machine … but no pods … you have to ask the (over-burdened) staff for pods (one color/flavor, no options, kind of defeats the purpose, eh?) … alas, too-small single-size cups (despite the machine’s ability to dispense three sizes of coffee drinks) … a minor shame…
- $10 food coupon … is better than nothing (and made breakfast, above, a bargain).
Overall, my sense was that the property was thinly/under-staffed, but everyone I met was pleasant and helpful (even if a bit overwhelmed).