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The Palmer House Hilton

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At a Glance

    Pros

  • within walking distance of almost everything most visitors want to do

    Cons

  • some rooms are quite small
  • steep parking fees and daily charges for fitness center
  • you can hear the El train from some rooms

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  

The Palmer House Hilton Review

The epitome of a grande dame, this bustling and massive property in the center of the Loop has a lobby ceiling mural that wows and lots of gold, marble, and tapestry; the rooms aren't as glitzy, but the location's hard to beat. It's the longest continually operating hotel in the United States, and also the place where brownies were invented in 1893, thanks to socialite Bertha Palmer. The Palmer House celebrates its history along with its more modern attributes: a 10,000-square-foot fitness center and spa.

    Hotel Details

  • 1,639 rooms, 40 suites
  • Rate includes no meals.
  • Credit cards accepted.
Updated: 06-11-2013

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  
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    Undergoing restoration

    Recent annualstay found the new owners making multimillion$ restoration to Former Glory, which means all restaurants except the Downtown closed, arcade shops closed and planned more upscale shops, bar w/tables & chairs moved into lobby. Expects to remain open thru construction; will probably price itself out of our range. Our room on 19th floor was fine; large, well decorated, spotless, 2 small bathrooms, that darn too-hot duvet hotels seem to think people like... we are HHonors members, paid $143 + tax, $30 self parking, internet rate.

    by lscott, 3/22/07
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    One Night Stay

    I was disappointed in my stay at the Palmer the bathroom floor was dirty, hair all over the bathroom and when drying off with my towel there were hairs twined in the fiber of towels. Went out for a morning of fresh air at 5:am asking the desk clerk if I could get some coffee the Reply was No you have to walk 2 blocks to a 7-eleven (in the dark). The kicker was I had left a pair of shoes I called 2 hrs later to inform them, I was told to call back. Needless to say they never return my 5 messages that I had left. Also 3 emails and no response. When you pay that kind of money you expect a little courtesy. You cant beat a Holiday Inn, its economical and Fantastic Housing. To bad the Palmer House Hilton can't manage there property like the Holiday Inn.

    by cityjumper, 10/24/07
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    Our best Hotel

    My son and I travel extensively. The other reviews on this hotel are quite dated. Our room was recently refurbished quite tastefully. The room was spotless, the hotel lobby is like being at the Vatican, staff was friendly. The location could not be better with the Redline Subway outside the door and the Pink, Green, Etc outside the other door. We loved the location and will remember this wonderful stay forever. Thanks Conrad

    by rfliberto, 1/5/09
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    Avoid Rooms Near Elevators

    Beautiful lobby, good food in Planter's bar, nice service, great location. However, many rooms our room 12-165 shared a wall with elevator equipment room. I have never stayed in a noisier room. Everyone sleeping in this room must complain. I suspect many rooms are affected by old elevator design. we only spent 5 minutes in room after checking in. Didn't notice until 6 AM and people started moving. No accommodation from hotel. They know

    by grahahw, 1/18/09
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    The Palmer House Hilton Review

    My spouse and I stayed at the Palmer House for three nights in mid-August 2011. As Hilton Hhonors Diamond members, we always check prices and availability for Hilton-branded properties first. The location of this hotel appealed to us for several reasons. It is one block from the blue line, so it's a snap to get there from O'Hare (Monroe/Dearborn). The hotel is on the same block as the red line, which was handy for getting to our dinner at Alinea (North/Clybourne). The hotel is one block from the green line (Monroe), which worked well for our visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park (Harlem). The hotel spans nearly an entire city block, with entrances on Monroe, Wabash, and State Streets (there is no entrance from Adams). There are two CVS pharmacies and two 7-11 convenience stores within a block of the hotel, in case you are looking for a store purchase drinks and snacks for your room. The hotel is one block from Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park, Grant Park, and the Art Institute. The public spaces of the hotel are gorgeous, particularly the soaring painted ceiling in the lobby, off which the Lockwood Restaurant and Bar is found. The lobby itself has a bar, surrounded by additional comfortable seating. Potter's Lounge is accessed from the street level, where there is a Starbucks and small shopping arcade (gift shop, shoe store). The indoor pool is small but adequate. The hotel has an odd configuration. The lobby is on the second level, not the street level, so it is necessary to bring your luggage either up the escalator, elevator, or stairs to check in; however, there is a bellman at the Wabash Street entrance. Both the Wabash Street entrance and the Monroe Street entrances are staffed by doormen who can help you hail a taxi. It seems like the hotel is comprised of several different buildings, along with several different elevator banks; it is necessary to find the correct elevator that will take you to your desired floor, because not all elevators stop on all floors. The Executive Level elevators (and lounge) require key card access. Keep in mind that many of the rooms are TINY! We checked in the day before online, and after reading all the possible room options available to us, we chose the description that stated LARGE ROOM, LARGE BATHROOM. Other descriptions claimed SMALL ROOM, SMALL BATHROOM, NOISY ROOM, and the like, so we felt that we got lucky with room 10171. There was no upgrade offered to us as Diamond members, even though we had booked the second-to-lowest category of room (the lowest being a DOUBLE room with one DOUBLE bed); the hotel was not full, either. Upon seeing the room, if that was a LARGE room, I would dread seeing what the SMALL rooms looked like. Although it would have been possible for the room to be a bit smaller (there was an arm chair in addition to a desk with a chair), I don't see how the bathroom could have been any smaller unless you had to stand in the bathtub or atop the toilet to close the door. The décor of the room was attractive and modern, but the size prohibited us from enjoying a relaxing space. On the third day of our stay, we didn't receive service on our room until about 4:00 pm (despite departing the room at 8:00 am), at which time we were showering and dressing for an early dinner. To be fair, we asked the maid to return in an hour after we had departed for dinner, and she did service our room while we were gone. The room had no mini-bar, which we found odd - it's a quick and easy way for a hotel to make a few extra bucks on the guests - although in our room, there was no space to allot for that amenity. Our room had an interior courtyard view, but at least it let in some natural light. Our major complaint about the room occurred on the evening of our second night, when my spouse, dressing for dinner, skimmed a bare foot along the dust ruffle of the bed and withdrew it with a USED CONDOM attached! It doesn’t get much more DISGUSTING than that! We immediately telephoned the front desk - and our call was put on hold - then we called the concierge - and our call was placed on hold again - and finally, we called the special guest services number (I think it we dialed 26 on the phone) - also to be put on hold! Because we were preparing to depart for dinner, we attempted to stop by the executive lounge to voice our discovery (no one was manning the desk), as well as the concierge (where the lines were “a mile long”) and finally, the Hhonors front reception desk (where there were no long lines, but where every desk attendant appeared to be waiting on the non-Hhonors patrons). We just wanted to tell someone about our "find", as well as have it removed from our room, but no one was available. Later that evening, we left a message with the front desk staff for the manager; we were told that NO MANAGER WAS ON DUTY ON WEEKENDS, which is a bit disconcerting for a hotel of this size. We don’t understand how a routine cleaning of a room wouldn’t remove such a personal item. The room assumably had a thorough cleaning after the previous customer had checked-out, and we ourselves had some type of service after our initial night stay. It wasn't as if my spouse had gotten on his hands and knees and looked under the bed, or that we had arrived with an ultraviolet black light searching for “creepy crawlies”, so there's no reason why a maid's vacuum cleaner did not uncover the condom. We spend a lot of nights in hotels, some of them at lesser Hilton properties than this full-service Hilton (for example, Hampton Inns and Hilton Garden Inns) and never has this happened before! Apparently, spending extra money on a “better” properties guarantees you some extra personal-care items! We never received a call from the manager, although we did receive a message from the maid asking us to call and discuss the matter, which we didn’t have time to do. The executive lounge was a bit disappointing - extremely crowded on the weekends at both breakfast and evening cocktails. The breakfast buffet was small but adequate - pastries/muffins/bagels, fresh fruit (whole not sliced), hard-cooked eggs, sliced luncheon meats, hot oatmeal, yogurt, juices, flavored waters, and coffee. The evening cocktail hour featured sliced fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and dip, and some hot hors d'oeuvre items, along with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. My spouse purchased a beer, which was $6; I'm not sure if that was a "deal" as compared to what they were charging in the lobby bar, nor could we compare the price to that of the mini-bar because our room didn’t have one. From the sizable crowds in the executive lounge, it seems that everyone is either a Gold or Diamond Hhonors member these days, although no one really checked guests in and verified that they belonged there. We saw many extended families, some with as many as 6 family members, staking out places in the lounge and partaking of the freebies. Key card access is required to access the lounge from the lobby or street level, but with the many additional elevators and staircases in the hotel, you can get around that if you know how. Overall, this was a disappointing stay, and we would not recommend this hotel, which is a shame, really, because the location is great. We could overlook the size of the room (even though it was billed as LARGE but to us appeared SMALL), but the whole USED CONDOM ISSUE is pretty unforgivable!

    by fluffnfold, 8/30/11
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    Much better deals around

    Notwithstanding our conference rate, a mid-priced motel is a better value. The Palmer House, similar to most high-end hotels, charges extra for: more than one person in a room; the Internet; a refrigerator; and breakfast. Fortunately, I had read traveler reviews and so joined the Hilton's frequent stay club and asked for a room on the renovated concierge level. The room was nicely decorated and all the plumbing worked. Still, the room was small and not sound-proofed. The noise from the street to our 20th floor room included loud early morning beeping noises. Of course, the Palmer House has lovely public areas and should be a part of any Chicago tour. However, stay elsewhere and use the money you save for a drink in the lobby.

    by camilwhitney, 9/25/12

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