Inn of Chicago

I want know if there are other hotels in downtown Chicago that doesn’t have an over-21 age requirement for reservations aside from this hotel. Really.

I am still thankful that I found out about this hotel in Yahoo Answers after hours of searching of downtown Chicago hotels that can allow a poor 20-year old lass like me to book and reserve a room. After Red Roof Inn crashed my hopes of finding cheap lodging with their 21 and above policy, I was really about to give up and just resort to sleeping in my car. Okay, maybe something not as desperate as that, but I simply refused to do the youth hostel route.

Inn of Chicago is one of the hotels owned by Choice Hotels International, which also owns hotels such as Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotels, etc. The building is located very close to various shops and restaurants right by the Magnificent Mile. It’s also only a few blocks away from Navy Pier and Millennium Park. Recently, I just found out that Inn of Chicago’s building was originally built in 1927 under the name “Hotel St. Clair“. Now I feel extra special staying at this 85-year old hotel.

Our 2 night stay only amounted to around $180 including taxes, which I felt better with. I’d rather have that than do a workaround that might or might not work at other hotels. I probably should also mention that my rates for a queen-sized, no smoking, contemporary room was cheaper than usual because of my Choice Privileges membership. The whole thing really worked out well for my pocket.

Enough with the rambly introductions. After taking care of my consulate business, Wade and I took the bus to the hotel to check-in (their check-in time is 3 PM local time). The hotel was very easy to find and was located near a lot of bus stops. Inn of Chicago stands tall with other buildings with its 22 floors, a minibar, fitness center, and Lavazza Coffee Shop attached to it. The lobby was nice and simple yet still welcoming with its dim bulbs and sunlight-inviting windows. During the nighttime, Inn of Chicago’s red neon sign sits brightly on top of the building. That sign served as my “north star” for 2 nights whenever we were lost trying to find our way back.

Our room was actually quite nice albeit being basic. It had all the essentials: a bed, a dresser, couple of lamps, a working desk and chair, a coffee maker, TV, iPod dock, iron and ironing board, a hair dryer, and a bathroom. A simple bedroom with no frills. As I mentioned earlier, I picked a contemporary-themed room (as opposed to a classic room) so the framed paintings and mirrors had a modern theme going on. Looking out our window provided us a view of Ohio Street. Wade’s mom was actually worried that our room would turn out to be something gross and uninhabitable, but the room’s appearance proved itself otherwise.

There were a couple of really minor faults that I noticed in our room. First of all, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how the vent system worked for the bathroom. There had to be some way to activate it and allow it to suck out all the stink because the register was right above the toilet. Also, the smooth, glass-like surface of the floor can be quite slippery when you’re taking a shower. I know you could just lay a towel on the floor but I somehow always felt bad doing that. I like to save towels, you see.

Speaking of saving towels, IoC apparently is working on conserving water by letting the guests make the choice whether they want their towels and bedsheets replaced right away. The room had two easels relaying this message, one in the bathroom and another one by the nightstand. The bathroom process allowed guests to indicate that they wanted their towel(s) replaced by leaving it on the floor. The bedsheets, on the other hand, were changed only if the guest left the respective easel on the bed. What stroke me as odd was that the housekeeping department didn’t seem to abide by these “guidelines”. I’m not saying that they absolutely, definitely have to. I’m just making my observation after noticing that they changed my used towels that were not on the floor, as well as the bedsheet even if I didn’t leave the said easel. I always appreciate clean, fresh linen but I thought they’d follow through with their environmental effort. Hum.

Anyway, I always like to keep our hotel room ice cold so being able to figure out how to turn the AC on is important for me. Unfortunately, the instructions for our room’s ventilation unit was peeled off so I had to call the front desk for help. I hope they put a new instruction sticker on it as soon as possible; the button combinations required to turn the heat or AC on is quite cryptic (holding the “Vent” and “On/Off” button down at the same time).

Remember I mentioned the minibar and the Lavazza Cafe? Good, because we stopped by at both of them. Lavazza Coffee Cafe was accessible from the hotel through a door that connected it to the main lobby (left of the lobby if you’re facing the reception desk). Whoever designed it was quite clever because the glass door gave guests a view of some of the items Lavazza had for sale. Too bad we didn’t quite enjoy our visit there (review coming soon).

As for the minibar, it’s located a little past the elevators. It looks pretty at night because of the blue lights coming out from under the shelves. Wade and I made a quick stop there after my thirst demanded a drink before sleeping. Being the under-aged lady that I were, I asked for a non-alcoholic drink. They had bottled water, sparkling water, soda, and probably some other stuff. The bartender offered to make me a “fruity concoction” and fruity concoction is what I took. Served on a small martini glass with a slice of lemon and two coffee stirrers, the fruity concoction was, well, fruity. Very fruity.

I checked us out of the hotel with a smile. For two nights, Inn of Chicago provided us with a basic yet excellent place to catch some shuteyes without any serious hiccups. I wouldn’t hesitate to make a reservation at this hotel again whenever we decide to come back to Chicago. I also wouldn’t hesitate suggesting this hotel to you if you were in the area.

P.S.: They have valet parking if you need it. 🙂

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