Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 March 2020

Executive travel: Hilton's newest apartment hotel in Chicago has much to offer

Guests can be left to do their own thing or take advantage of breakfast and networking events in a dedicated lounge

The Homewood Suites South Loop Chicago has 196 self-service apartments. Image courtesy of Homewood Suites South Loop, Chicago
The Homewood Suites South Loop Chicago has 196 self-service apartments. Image courtesy of Homewood Suites South Loop, Chicago

At six months old, the Homewood Suites by Hilton South Loop Chicago, is an impressive new addition to this chain’s collection of properties in this city, if not the easiest name to remember for a cab driver.

For anybody staying on business for a longer period it is always useful to have the facilities of a fully-serviced apartment rather than a hotel room; and of course everything is brand new in this 196-apartment tower, from the cutlery to air-conditioning.

You have your own kitchenette with dishwasher, microwave and American-sized refrigerator, though only a twin hob cooker that struggles to boil a pan of water, presumably a safety feature. There is a separate lounge with bed settee and chair.

My Dh929 corner, one-bedroom apartment on the 21st floor offered panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the museum district with beautiful sunrises; and wall-to-ceiling windows that did heat up the room a tad too much on a sunny day.

At 48 square metres my apartment was actually larger than typical luxury hotel rooms in Chicago and less than half the price. Clever interior design made good use of space.

The apartment has two 49-inch LG smart TVs with Netflix. The kitchen table doubles as a desk. But the lack of international plugs was a nuisance and as the hotel could not supply an adaptor, I had to buy one in Walgreens a block away.

The Keurig coffee machine worked well with a daily refilling of the capsule supply. There is no Hilton room service or minibar.

However, dozens of local restaurants will deliver and four telephone numbers are listed on the TV guide; and the hotel has its own handy Asian fusion restaurant on the ground floor.

Complimentary internet was 10.3 Mbps. You could pay for a higher speed. Local calls are free. Heavy black-out drapes, a quality bed and new air-conditioning made for a good night’s sleep.

Unusually for an all-apartment hotel there is complimentary breakfast provided in the double-height ‘Lodge’ lounge on the eighth floor. It’s a modest version of a club lounge.

When I looked unsure about the eggs with cheese and tomato on offer, the chef obligingly rushed to cook some scrambled eggs and then asked, ‘Did I make you happy?’. Even at 6am I managed a smile.

The general manager holds a free ‘social evening’ from 5.30pm-8pm in the Lodge from Monday to Thursday. The complimentary canapés included hot dogs and hamburgers, a reasonable light meal.

Free tea and coffee, and fruit are available all-day in the Lodge. It also has a business centre with two Microsoft PCs and a HP printer.

You could access your apartment with the Hilton app from your mobile phone; and print out on an HP printer from the lobby from your phone or laptop.

Hilton really seemed to be going the extra mile for their apartment guests who are more typically left to do their own thing. A small shop next to the reception has basic items if you want to do just that, although Trader Joe’s down the street was far better for food.

There’s a hotel-style laundry service, and a low-cost coin-operated launderette. Airbnb is no competition.

This Homewood Suites is located in the South Loop, the southern part of the Chicago downtown. Many business conference venues are within easy walking distance, as are the main tourist attractions of the city.

Then again, rather untypically for a self-catering apartment hotel, there are two double-height meeting rooms available for hire on the eighth floor, from boardroom to mini-conference size; and a breakout terrace for evening receptions.

There is a 20-metre indoor swimming pool on this floor too, with floor-to-ceiling windows; and an elevator to a Life Fitness, panoramic gym on the 30th floor with four running, three stepping and two bicycle machines and free weights.

Updated: January 23, 2020 01:58 PM

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