My Conrad Chicago review is way overdue but better late than never, right? I stayed at the Conrad Chicago while attending the Chicago Seminars last month. The Seminars are always held at the Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village, but I arrived on Thursday and wanted to spend a few days in the city. This hotel has been on my bucket list since last year’s event…when it didn’t open on time. This year, something was happening in Chicago and hotels were sold out/outrageously priced. On the drive over from the airport, I tried my luck and sure enough a room had opened up! I had a room booked at LondonHouse, but the manager allowed me to cancel my reservation, credited my points back immediately, and booked the Conrad Chicago just before pulling up to the hotel.
Conrad Chicago Location
The Conrad Chicago has a really nice location. It’s a block from the Magnificent Mile, which means you’re close to all the shopping and sights without being in the middle of it. It’s actually a pretty quiet street with a few shops around the corner. There’s also a Shake Shack nearby for those cheese fries cravings (sorry Shake Shack, your burgers suck). Everything is pretty much walkable from this location, so I would absolutely stay here again just for the location alone.
When you walk into the building, you’re met with the most beautiful lobby. There’s a seating area to the left and a desk at the far right. It’s not the actual check-in desk and nobody is really manning it – the employees sort of roam around awkwardly. Instead, you take the elevators up to the 20th floor where the reception desk is. A small thing I appreciated about the hotel was how the elevators were automatically summoned as soon as you walked towards them. I don’t know if the staff pressed a button, but as soon as you walked over the elevators, a door would open without the press of a button.
Conrad Chicago Check-in
I arrived around 11 AM, which was well before check-in. As expected, they had no rooms available but they offered to text me when they did. I left my bag, headed over to Dollop Coffee (do yourself a favor and try the Nutella Latte) and got a text about an hour later that the room was ready. Check-in was easy – all I had to do was pick up the key and there was no line (another perk of early check-in). One thing I found odd about this hotel? There was no designated elite check-in desk. But it hadn’t even occurred to me until I started writing this review, since there wasn’t even a line.
Conrad Chicago Staff
While the text messages were convenient for check-in, they got kind of annoying. I was getting them throughout my stay: “How is your stay going so far?” “Is everything good with the room?” At first I thought it was a bot message, so I almost replied with “STOP” to opt out. But after a few texts, it became clear this was the preferred method of communication for the Conrad Chicago staff.
My interactions with them in-person were always a little odd. They were all nice, but they seemed uncomfortable and out of place at the hotel. I got the sense most of them had never worked at a hotel before. Or in customer service, for that matter. There was always this awkwardness and uncertainty in the way they carried themselves and interacted with guests. But they were nice, so I gotta cut them some slack for that.
Conrad Chicago Superior Room
When I approached the room, I thought for a second it might be a suite. It was in the corner and when I walked in, there was a foyer leading to a long hallway. I asked the front desk guy about the room type and he told me it was a standard room. It definitely didn’t seem like a standard room.
That foyer seemed a bit pointless but now I realize it’s a great place to store extra luggage, shopping bags, and whatever else might normally take up a lot of space in a room.
The room was way nicer than it appears in photos. That said, I don’t think the red hues (see carpet) will age well. It looks nice for the time-being though…
Conrad Chicago Superior Room – Bathroom
The bathroom was fairly large, which I think was exaggerated with the high ceilings. There were two sinks across a large counter. The cold accents everywhere were a nice touch – sort of metallic and not at all tacky like you’d normally expect with gold fixtures.
There were enough towels and Aromatherapy Associates amenities in the shower and sink area to accommodate a football team. I find Hyatt hotels skimp on their bathroom products, but Conrad (and Hilton in general) is much more generous in that regard. The lighting was a bit unflattering, except for beauty vloggers going for that neon light look.
Conrad Chicago Room Amenities
The Conrad Chicago has some useful amenities in their guest rooms. The narrow hallway had a large closet to the left and the bathroom to the right. The closet wasn’t just massive, but also packed with essentials I was looking for. There were dental, vanity, shaving, and sewing kits.
A button popped off my coat as I walked around the city that afternoon, so the sewing kit really came in handy. My nails were a bit beat up from hauling my bag around, so it was nice to have a vanity kit with a cuticle pusher and nail file.
The room was also stocked with a Nespresso machine, which is always a nice touch.
Conrad Chicago Gold and Diamond Breakfast Benefit
Hilton Honors Diamond members get a daily $20 breakfast credit at Baptiste & Bottle. Hilton Gold members get free buffet breakfast at the restaurant. The breakfast benefit wasn’t explained to me the first morning. I was seated but there was no menu or waiter in sight. After some time, I received a menu and ordered the waffles. They arrived very quickly and were terrible – way too sweet. I got the check seconds after my waffles were delivered, so it all felt very rushed.
The second morning, the hostess put a gold chip on my table to denote that I was a Hilton Honors Gold member. She brought me a sample of the pomegranate juice and a carafe of water. She let me know that I had free buffet access and that anything off the menu would cost extra.
The buffet was fine. There were a few hot options, fruits, cereal, yogurt, and tons of juices. They also had that fake-egg casserole that’s fine for a club lounge but looks out of place in a nice restaurant. I covered it in gravy, Midwest style, and it tasted better than the waffles from the day before.
What really struck me about Baptiste & Bottle was how miserable the staff seemed – nobody ever smiled. They did their jobs, but seemed to be in agony the entire time. Other than the unhappy staff, the space was actually really beautiful, with light coming from three directions. There were also some really cozy seating areas, perfect for lounging around.
Conrad Chicago: Final Thoughts
Overall, I really liked the Conrad Chicago and would stay here again. I do think they have some work to do when it comes to service. The staff was really nice (especially the bell boys, who always greeted guests and were helpful in getting cabs, transporting bags, etc.). However, most of the staff seemed inexperienced and either miserable or uncomfortable with their roles. It felt like I was at a Forever 21 staffed by awkward/unhappy teenagers. But I guess that’s to be expected for a hotel that opened less than a year ago.
Have you stayed at the Conrad Chicago before? What are your impressions of this hotel?
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