Review: InterContinental Chicago

The InterContinental Chicago ‘Magnificent Mile’ is located on Michigan Avenue in the heart of the Windy City. Its location is the only magnificent thing about it.

The hotel was originally built in 1929 as the Medinah Athletic Club. By 1944, it was operating as a hotel. Over the years it has been a Sheraton and a Radisson, before opening as an InterContinental in March 1990. At that time, the north tower operated as a separate property, and it took another decade before more renovations combined the two properties through the construction of the four level lobby we see today.


Arriving in that lobby, we didn’t see any bell staff around and so dragged our luggage into the hotel through the revolving doors.

At check-in, there was a line. The staff seemed disorganised, like they didn’t really know what they were doing. Room keys for our junior suite were eventually produced, along with a welcome letter and a certificate for a free drink at the Michael Jordan’s Steak House in the lobby and for a coffee from the Starbucks attached to the lobby (we didn’t use either).

The hotel doesn’t have a club lounge, and so apart from a minor room upgrade, we didn’t get much for our Royal Ambassador status at this property.


At the check-in desk we were also handed a bottle of water and two macaroons as a welcome gift, which seemed a little odd. Over the counter is what you expect at a Candlewood Suites when offered a welcome gift. At an InterContinental, we expect the welcome gift to be delivered to the room, ideally prior to check-in.


We were soon in the elevator and en route to our room clutching a bottle of water.


The hotel is decorated with an interesting colour scheme.


The air conditioning in our junior suite needed to run on full the entire time we were there to keep the room warm. It wasn’t exactly quiet.


There was a television to one side of the bedroom and another in the lounge area. There was a plate of fruit and another bottle of water as another (?) welcome gift.


The mini-bar had a reasonable selection. Like more and more hotels these days in the United States, it operates on sensors.


We were disappointed to find our bathroom was of the ‘accessibility’ variety. Eagle-eyed readers will notice the lone bottle of Gilchrist & Soames shower gel amongst the Agraria toiletries. We’ll chalk that one down to sloppy housekeeping.


We were not impressed with the water pressure in the shower, nor by the quality or condition of the towels.


As a general proposition, we don’t support hotels palming off undesirable rooms on top tier members of their frequent guest schemes.


The elite treatment at this hotel stands in stark contrast to that which was experienced at the erstwhile InterContinental Chicago O’Hare, which had opened in September 2008. Regretfully the property has now left the chain, having been sold to Lowes last year for ~US$120 million. In addition to being very generous to customers, that property was also well appointed reflective of its US$180 million construction cost.


In a city which offers some of the world’s top hotel brands such as Conrad, Four Seasons, Langham, Park Hyatt, Peninsular, Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf Astoria, the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile disappoints.

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