Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Review: Hotel Monaco, Chicago, IL

This is an unsolicited, unprovoked, uncompensated review of a hotel we recently visited. If someone wants to solicit, provoke, or compensate me for reviewing their product or facility…that can be arranged. :-)

The hubs & I like to run away to Chicago a few times a year.  Sometimes we just run up for a daytrip, sometimes for 1 night, & sometimes for an extended weekend.  Each time we have gone, we have stayed at a different hotel.  It wasn’t that we disliked previous hotels, they just didn’t have enticing reasons to return for subsequent visits.  That situation has changed…

When I started researching where we were going to stay for this trip (4 months ago…because I’m a spaz with a planning-problem), I ran across information for Hotel Monaco on one of the hotel booking sites.  I was drawn in by the pictures on the site, and the appealing price given the 4-star rating.  I knew I wanted to know more…

Hotel Monaco is owned and operated by the Kimpton Hotel chain.  According to their website Kimpton specializes in boutique hotels that are “carefully selected to show off the unique energy and personality of each destination.”  They also are pet-friendly & eco-friendly…which are major positives in my opinion (even though our furry kids didn’t make this trip with us).  And while most hotel chains & hotel booking sites have member reward programs, I thought the Kimpton InTouch program was especially fun.  After every 7 visits or 20 nights (whichever comes first) that are booked through the Kimpton site, you earn a free nights stay.  That’s pretty standard.  But I love their options to set your preferences in advance, i.e. what type of pillows you want on your bed, if you want turndown service, etc & their reward program gives you free access to wireless internet during your stay (which still surprises me that ALL hotels do not offer this as a baseline? 2011, what?). Also, the first time you stay in a Kimpton hotel as an InTouch member, you get a $10 coupon to raid the mini bar.  Those $5 M&Ms that look so darn tasty at 2:00am could be yours!! Gratis! Not too shabby for a free reward system…

I also think it’s fun that Kimpton hotels give you the option to have a goldfish buddy delivered to your room for the course of your stay…as in an actual, swimming goldfish.  If you were traveling with kids that could be incredibly fun.  You can also get a yoga kit delivered to your room for use during your stay.

Through the Hotel Monaco website, I got a stellar deal on a “Mediterranean Suite” ($199.00/night on a holiday weekend, advance purchase special rate).  Sure, the suite was a splurge…but it had a jacuzzi tub.  Since we moved a year ago, I haven’t had a proper, long-soaking bath (small bathtub + finished improperly/peeling enamel= not a relaxing bath experience…hopefully that will be amended during a future home update).  I was due. It was worth the extra $40/night.

In the days leading up to the trip, I was nervous.  It’s always nerve-wrecking trusting online reviews & photos when it comes to hotel rooms.  In this age of bedbug-mania, traveling is especially scary.  

When we arrived at Hotel Monaco, we were greeted at the front desk by the concierge.  He was slightly aloof, but not unpleasantly/annoyingly so…he was efficient about checking us in, asking if we had questions, supplying our $10 minibar coupon, & directing us to somewhere we could grab a decent & quick late-lunch, and even provided us with an appetizer coupon for lunch.  It was slightly comical because he stated something along the lines of “I’m also the concierge, so if you need anything during your stay let me know.  But you might let me know soon, because it’s going to be really busy around here this weekend.”  No worries Mr. Concierge, you were talking to an OCD, vacation-itinerary-planning fool…I’m sure I could have taught him a few things…

The second we opened the door to the room, I was instantly happy with my selection of hotels & rooms.  It. was. gorgeous.  Apparently, the hotel had been recently decorated, and the room was a fun, eclectic array of colors, prints, fabrics & decorations.  Even though it was so eclectic, it somehow all meshed together.  The Mediterranean Suite featured a small sitting room that had a pull-out couch, a window seat, a working desk & a large flat screen TV.  It then flowed into the bedroom, which was HUGE with very tall ceilings (maybe 14 feet?!). The bedroom featured a king-sized bed in crisp white linens (4 foam pillows, per my request), a fun mirrored headboard, a bench, a chase-lounge style sofa, mirrors, artwork, and AWESOMELY huge window seats.  The bathroom in the suite was decently sized, with a walk-in shower stall, and a huge-normous Jacuzzi tub.  Seriously…it was lap-swimming quality.

Funny story—I didn’t remember requesting turn-down service (maybe I did?)  We got back to the hotel LATE Friday night after a concert, and discovered that someone had been in our room (temporarily freaked us out).  We were pleasantly surprised to find the bathrobes laid out on the bed, chocolates on our pillows, the TV turned to a soothing music/nature channel (unfortunately showing a creepy squirrel at the moment we walked in, adding to our confusion), the curtains drawn & the lights dimmed in our room.  It was a relaxing, peaceful, & Zen-like way to end our evening.

Quick overview of our likes & dislikes about the Hotel Monaco:

  • HUGE, spacious rooms with tall ceilings.
  • Friendly staff
  • Gorgeously appointed, large window seats.  Perfect for sipping a glass of wine & watching the city go by at night.
  • Very comfortable beds, various firmnesses of foam pillows, with crisp linens.
  • Aveda bath products. As someone who basically only uses Aveda products…this made me Very Happy.
  • The huge Jacuzzi tub with the large footwell at the bottom.  It took a long time to fill (& I kindof felt bad about using that much water)…but it was sooo worth it.  They also have fizzy bath balls you can use for $7/pop (see con below).
  • Easy access to the State & State/Lake rail stations.  Easy access to the numerous bus stops along State & Michigan (easy access to most places in the city).
  • We couldn’t hear noise from other guests.  We know the hotel was quite booked…but we didn’t hear another guest during our entire stay.  This has been a problem with other hotels in this Chicago area.  Our bedroom was pretty isolated though, due to the suite layout.
  • Fun, animal-print bathrobes to use during our stay.

  • Bathroom towels—only slightly better than interstate-side Holiday Inn grade towels. Smallish & rough.  At this sort of hotel, I expect plusher, softer towels. The perk to this—extra exfoliation…
  • The bathroom shower stall was pretty small.  Thankfully I didn’t have to shave my legs during the course of my stay.  Also, the grout in the shower needed a little bleaching & some caulk needed replacing.
  • Regarding the $7 fizzy bath balls…I moved the container to a shelf in the bathroom so I wouldn’t risk getting them wet…and was charged $21 for 3 bath balls upon checkout.  This was quickly removed from the bill upon explanation at the front desk (& informing that I had photo evidence that they were still intact upstairs).
  •  Parking = $46.00/night.  This is on par with most hotels downtown Chicago…and we were charged for 2 nights of parking on our check-out bill.  However, we didn’t park at the hotel…problem.  Again, with an explanation at checkout, this was quickly removed from our bill.
  • There is some train noise.  We were on the 9th floor, but we could still hear the squeaky breaks & wheels of the trains as they circumnavigated the Loop. This didn’t bother us…but if you were a super-light sleeper, this may annoy the heck out of you.

There is a restaurant, South Water Kitchen, associated with the hotel…but we didn’t have a chance to eat there during our stay.  So I can’t comment on that establishment…

Overall, we loved our stay in the Mediterranean Suite at Hotel Monaco, and we hope to return for a trip in the near future.  You should check in & check it out on your next trip through Chicago!    

On to the photos:
View 1 of sitting room

View 2 of sitting room. One of the window seats in the back.

View of the bed & another window seat.

View of the sitting area in the bedroom.

The biggest of the window seats. Amazing
place to sit & watch the city go by...

Really fun mirror in the room... ignore my
purse & bag thrown on the bed.

The hubs checking out the view from one of the window seats.

View 1 of the bathroom.

View 2 of bathroom. Kindof a tight squeeze between
the shower door & the bathroom door.

Aveda bath products!  Love it!!

View 3 of the bathroom.  HUGE bathtub!

Look how deep this is!!

The dubious fizzy bath balls...

One giggle from the hotel.  Sometimes the only
options in life AREN'T "up & down."


  1. Like the amazing grace that our family walks through life with.. not.. I think the overpowering urge/desire/need to plan may also be genetic. Although it may skip generations, the jury is still out on that one. Sorry Mom! :)

    1. Many hotels are available in Chicago. Monaco is one of them. It looks graceful. The way it is decorated, it is beautiful, window bad is also a great thing.

      Boutiqe hotel in Chicago