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Review: the Hilton Chicago

Holding court in the heart of America’s windy city is a remarkable icon – the famous Hilton Chicago hotel.

Chicago is one of our favourite destinations. And the Hilton Chicago is  a memorable attraction in itself.

For a start, the hotel is a distinctive landmark of Chicago’s South Loop neighbourhood, with 29 floors and more than 1,500 rooms.

Overlooking Lake Michigan

The location couldn’t be more scenic – overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan yet sitting squarely in downtown, not far from the Chicago River.

A stay at the Hilton Chicago combines all the luxury and amenities you’d expect, with an extraordinary sense of history.

DSCN0244And, if the history of a hotel seems a trite boring, believe me, in this case, it certainly isn’t.

There’s a good reason why guests are following in the footsteps of every American President since the late 1920’s.

Once the world’s biggest

When the Hilton Chicago opened in 1927 as the Stevens Hotel, it was the largest on the planet, with 3,000 guest rooms; a bowling alley; miniature golf course; movie theatre; ice-cream shop and drug store.

The hotel is said to have cost more than $30 million to build and the first registered guest was the American Vice-President.DSCN0251

After failing in the Great Depression, Stevens Hotel was used during World War II as barracks and classrooms for the Army Air Force, housing more than 10,000 air cadets.

As the war drew to a close, the hotel entered a new era when it was purchased by American hotelier, Conrad Hilton.

Chicago’s Hilton was a backdrop to two further wars, when it hosted a public gathering in 1951 for General Douglas Macarthur to discuss the Korean conflict and when anti-Vietnam War protestors clashed with police in the street outside during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

The hotel’s deserved reputation for luxury accommodation was enhanced by massive renovations in the 1980’s and in 2012 – 13.CHICHHH_lobby

A popular culture icon

With its extensive and remarkable history, the Hilton Chicago, unconsciously, has become well known to people worldwide through its use in many popular movies, including ‘The Little Fockers’; ‘Road to Perdition’; ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’; ‘The Express’; ‘Unconditional Love’; and ‘Love and Action in Chicago’.

The hotel was also used as the scene of the popular television series ’ER’.

Our visit

On arriving for a stay at the Hilton Chicago in the past year, we were immediately struck by the grand size and opulence of the main foyer and the Boulevard Room.DSCN0303

The hotel was busy and there was slight confusion about our booking, but the friendly and efficient reception staff immediately upgraded us to a double sized room with two bathrooms, as well as adding a complimentary breakfast.

This welcoming attitude by the hotel staff was to prove a highlight of our stay.  For example, without hesitation or cost, the Hilton Chicago kept our luggage secure for several hours after we had checked out of the hotel.

This allowed us to carry out final sight-seeing, while our bags were kept safe.

Our room at Hilton Chicago was elegant and luxurious and decorated in a sophisticated style, with a HDTV, in-room concierge computer and high-speed internet access.

The facilities at the Hilton Chicago are everything you would expect at such a famous hotel, including two lobby restaurants;exceptional hotel dining; a traditional Irish Pub; a ‘pack-your-own’ breakfast outlet for visitors making an early start; fitness centre; indoor running track, complimentary foyer wifi and a gorgeous heated pool.

Close to attractions

Centrally located at 720  South Michigan Avenue, the Hilton Chicago is within walking distance of many of the city’s outstanding attractions.

You can walk through Grant Park to the shores of Lake Michigan; the Field Museum; Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium or Soldier Field.

Millennium Park, Navy Pier and Chicago Children’s museum are also close at hand.

History at a glance

Another interesting aspect of the Hilton Chicago is the ground floor museum celebrating the hotel’s fascinating past.

Those interested in such things are able to view photographs and information about the hotel through the decades; its many celebrity guests; and the various milestones that have made the Hilton Chicago famous throughout the US and beyond.

Would I recommend it?

Wholeheartedly. A stay at Hilton Chicago is memorable indeed.

See how to get to the hotel; what rooms and suites are available; and facilities in detail.

About Ian Roberts (266 Articles)
Ian Roberts is a veteran Australian journalist, PR man and writer/reviewer on accommodation and travel. Over many decades, Ian has travelled widely reporting and recording his experiences. His newsy columns - including Memorable Destination - have gained a big following among people seeking suggestions and objective information about accommodation, travel and destinations world-wide. Along with wife, Sue and her camera, Ian has taken up a particular challenge to help budget conscious seniors 50 and upward with travel and accommodation ideas - including suggestions for holding family reunions. Readers in Ian's home city of Newcastle Australia may also be aware of his travel and accommodation column in a local newspaper.

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