Hotel Review: W Chicago City Center

Introduction:

Back in July of 2012, my family (my mom, dad, sister, and I) spent a weekend in Chicago attending my niece’s birthday party. This trip was before I became SPG Platinum, so I was looking at doing a lot of hotel hopping to get to 25 stays as quickly as possible. I had heard great things about the W Chicago City Center from a friend earlier and so was eager to try out my first W hotel. I know it’s kind of weird choosing a supposedly hip/party style hotel while staying with your parents, but the weirder part is my staying here (I’m nowhere close to being fun or hip by any young adult sense). Anyway during this trip, I spent one night at the W, one night at the Westin Michigan Ave, and two nights at the Conrad Chicago (reviews to come soon). After reading this series of reviews one might just be surprised, which hotel most impressed our tastes.

W Chicago – City Center
172 Adams Street, Chicago, IL 60603
Phone Number: (312)-332-1200

Category Rating
Food Options 5/5
Room 5/5
Toiletries/Bed 3.5/5
Pool and Gym Small Gym/No Pool

Spa Not Available

Convenience 4/5
Service 3/5
OVERALL 4.1/5

 

Arrival/Checkin:

The W Chicago City Center is located down the street from the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), and across the street from the JW Marriott Hotel. The hotel is ideally situated for people working in the financial district and is a bit far away from the major part of the Magnificent Mile. We arrived at the hotel just past midnight CST to a rather lively lobby and bar despite the empty streets. There was plenty of noise coming out of the bar area and there really was no sign of the party stopping because a large limousine just pulled in right before we entered the hotel.

Upon making our way to the front desk, we were quickly checked in by a pleasant gentleman who thanked us for our loyalty as SPG Gold members and informed us that we had received complimentary upgrades to two spectacular rooms (one for my parents and one my sister and I). He also informed us that internet was free for SPG Gold members and had us confirmed for a late 3pm checkout the following day.

Though I was very tired, I was still able to capture a few images of the lobby before heading up. The lobby lounge featured plenty wrap around seating along the walls and pillars adorning the area. The ambiance of the place looked as if it were a larger version of the inside of a Cheesecake Factory. Needless to say it looked pretty nice.

Seating in the check in area of the W Chicago City Center
More seating near the front desk

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The ambient check in desks

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The arches, the crown moldings, and lamps gave the place an old style look while the seating made it seem as if it were more like a bar one would find inside an Emirates A380.

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The Room:

After finishing up taking pictures of the front desk, I finally headed up to the room hoping that there wouldn’t be too much noise from the throng of people downstairs. The room ended up being a pleasant surprise. It was spacious, modern, clean, and most importantly quiet.

Right by the entryway was a desk and a wall mounted tv with some shelves which seemed to be the mini bar.

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At the far end of the room, there was a comfortable W Signature bed. And right next to the bed were some outlets to charge up your electronic devices.

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To the left side of the room was a sliding door leading to the bathroom. As you can see from this picture, the room was extremely spacious for a downtown hotel.

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The bathroom featured a tub/shower combo and a single vanity stocked with W’s Signature bliss bubble gum smelling toiletries.  Though there aren’t too many pictures, the bathroom was actually quite spacious as well, which is again surprising for a downtown hotel. After the quick walk around, I finally took a shower and hit the sack.

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Breakfast at the IPO

The next morning, we woke up around 10am and headed down for breakfast at the hotel restaurant, called IPO. Breakfast is not included for SPG Gold members at most Starwood hotels, but no one wanted to venture out for some local eating. This ended up being a good decision in the end because the hotel had a great breakfast offering.

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Though the restaurant is a fairly small space, the decorations are classy yet modern. There are no views to be had though unless you love watching people come and go at the JW Marriott across the street.

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As soon as we were seated, the waitress promptly came by to take our order. There is no breakfast buffet at most W hotels, which is really nice because the food is fresh and is of great quality.

I had the Buttermilk Pancakes w/ Strawberries, Chocolate Chips, and Almonds, which were among the best I’ve had. Pancakes can often be too thick, too big, and too heavy, but these were done just right: soft, light, and just enough in terms of serving size.

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Buttermilk Pancakes with Chocolate Chips and Almonds

My parents had toast and freshly squeezed orange juice. They seemed pretty happy with it especially because the bread looked like it was freshly baked with butter spread across the top. I can’t say enough about how some hotels get the basics of toast wrong and hand out chips for breakfast.

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My sister had the toasted bagel with cream cheese, which she seemed to enjoy.

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And finally, my sister and I shared some breakfast potatoes on the side, which were just amazing. They had some spices on top to make it especially flavorful and appetizing. The serving size was rather small though so you may want to order one more if you are sharing.

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The bill came out to around $48 including an $8 tip, which is very reasonable considering how much I’ve paid at some hotels for mediocre breakfasts. Yes, the serving sizes may have been small, but breakfast should not be a meal to binge eat in my mind. Not to say I’m not guilty of it sometimes (darn you South Asian breakfast buffets). I would definitely not hesitate to return this restaurant, especially now because it would be free as a SPG Platinum Member.

Gym/Spa:

There is no Bliss Spa at this location. The hotel features a 24/7 fitness center, which featured a good variety of equipment. It’s not state of the art, but I do like that it is open 24/7. I did get to use it once during my stay, but unfortunately didn’t take any pictures.

Bottom Line:

The W Chicago City Center beat all of my expectations and broke any inhibitions I had about staying at W hotels because of their labeling as loud and crazy. The front desk staff seemed very pleasant and helpful throughout my stay, though I can’t say much about the rest because of my lack of interaction. The location of the hotel is perfect for accessing the Willis Tower sky deck at night, and is few blocks away from some great shopping and dining. The rooms were modern, fresh, and spacious, which was a pleasant surprise for a city hotel. Breakfast service was prompt and efficient with the food being great. The only downside was that I had to pay $65 for valet parking, but that’s just the way things work in the middle of the city. I hate going around looking for parking in the middle of the night anyway so I paid for the convenience. I look forward to returning to this hotel with my newly minted Platinum status and to see how it has held up over the past couple of years. After this stay I would not hesitate to try out other W hotels.