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Chicago Hotels

The Palmer House Hilton

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

Updated 06/11/2013

Fodor's 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.

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Hotel Information

Address:

17 E. Monroe St., Chicago, Illinois, 60603, USA

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Phone:

312-726–7500; 800-445–8667

Hotel Details:

  • Credit cards accepted
  • 1,639 rooms, 40 suites
  • No meals

Updated 06/11/2013

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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
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Sep 25, 2012

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.

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Aug 30, 2011

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!

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By grahahw

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Jan 18, 2009

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

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Jan 5, 2009

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

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Oct 24, 2007

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.

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By lscott

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Mar 22, 2007

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.

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By Robert

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May 1, 2006

Unwanted Visitors in the Room after 11 PM

The Palmer House offers a unique service; staff that break into your room after 11:00 pm and, despite the fact that your bag is in the middle of the room, get on the telephone to see if someone is staying in your room. I was told that he (the alleged employee) was looking to see if the room was unoccupied because another guest needed a larger room. Although I tried to contact the night manager twice, I hung up after several minutes on hold each

time. If you enjoy having your room entered (broken into) by alleged staff late at night, then this is the hotel for you. If you are a business traveler or a woman traveling alone or just someone who thinks you should be able to get ahold of hotel management when you have uninvited guests, you should stay at any of Chicago's better hotels.

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By Jim

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Mar 16, 2004

Beautiful Classic in Chicago !

Stayed in mid-March 2004 and had a great experience. Important to remember that it is an older hotel, but its character stands the Palmer House high on my list. Service was accomodating and every request was met. Breakfast at the French Quarter restaurant was fantastic. Good location and fair price make this a good choice.

By Don

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Dec 9, 2003

Palmer House a good value via Hotwire

We stayed at the Palmer House Hilton for four nights, paying less than $80/night on Hotwire. The room was tiny (9' x 16', plus closet and bathroom), and the bed wasn't queen-size like we were supposed to get. But it was clean and comfy enough. The location was great--a block or two from most of the Loop CTA trains, near the Art Institute and the Magnificent Mile shopping area. It's a beautiful hotel--the public spaces have lots of beautiful artwork

and furnishings. It was especially pretty because it was decorated for Christmas. Everyone we dealt with--check-in, concierge, bellman, maids--treated us very well.

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Jul 30, 2003

Snotty, Cramped, Tiny Pool

Snotty operators, TINY room, room keys don't work, long lines, pool terrible, uncomfortable bed. Would never stay there again. My friends stayed at the Crown Plaza Silversmith a block away and that was very nice with new, big rooms.

By Heidi

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May 29, 2003

Beautiful value!

We stay at the Palmer House nearly every time we visit Chicago, which is at least four times per year. You can get very reasonably priced rooms. They are small, but compared to what you pay to stay at any one of a dozen run-of-the-mill hotels, it's a steal. The beds are very comfortable. The beauty of the common areas is incomparable. We recently stayed at a nearby hotel just to try something different, and, although it was perfectly adequate,

we will return to the Palmer House next visit. You just can't beat it.

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By Kim

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Feb 1, 2003

Horrid!

One time is too many in this hotel. My company does alot of business with this hotel and I expected it to be nice. I specifically requested a non-smoking room, but when I checked in at 3PM they said they didn't have any. They put me in a HORRIBLE smelling smoky moldy room (I think the workers smoked 6 packs of cigs in the room just before I arrived)! There was no refrigerator in the room, but a big black moldy hole where it used to be (apparently

it was out for repairs). The toilet clogged for no reason and the service was terrible. I DO NOT recommend staying at this hotel!

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Jul 9, 2002

GREAT LOCATION!

You just can't beat the location! We were within 2 blocks of the Art Institute and the Taste of Chicago (Grant Park), and easy walking distance to Museum Campus and Michigan Avenue shopping. Our room with queen bed was small, but clean and nicely furnished and suited us just fine. All services (valet, bellcap, front desk, room service) were fast & friendly. We found the room service food to be delicious & generously-portioned. The elevators must

have been updated since previous reviews here because they were very fast for us. The best part was that we got our room for less than $75 per night via Priceline.com!

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By Becca

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Apr 29, 2002

5 College Kids Let Loose in Chi-Town

I stayed at the Palmer House this last weekend for the Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting. I went with four of my classmates and one of our professors. As undergrdads, we weren't exactly used to this nice of place, so it was quite the treat. We used the valet parking at 31 bucks a day, but it was worth it not to have to worry about the vehicle. The rooms were great. We had two rooms with double beds - they vaired slightly in bathroom

size, but overall there weren't any complaints. I would reccomend this hotel if money wasn't a care, but if I was going to come to the city on my own (without a conference), I don't know if I would feel the need to drop over $220 for a place to sleep per night. Overall, my stay was more than great. :)

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By Pamela

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Mar 19, 2002

From now on Palmer House is my House

I stayed at the Palmer House Hilton after much research on hotels in downtown Chicago, trying to find the perfect fit. The Palmer House is it. The info states how beautiful it is, and that is true, but I was fearful about the staff being rude and inattentive. No need. Check-in was a breeze, we got a beautiful room, and all the staff treated us well. Even the cleaning staff greeted us up and down the hallways each and every day. They are pricey

I would avoid ordering room service (rather expensive for what you get, but the staff were very friendly). If you are on a tight budget not the place to stay. But overall I felt it was definitely worth it.

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By bryan

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Feb 10, 2002

Beautiful hotel with limitations

Beautiful hotel, excellent location, indoor pool, & a pet friendly attitude. BUT front desk staff was rude & inefficient, rooms are very small, & room service food was terrible & over-priced. Concierge staff was helpful & hotel often offers deal rates.

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Dec 4, 2001

must have been glorious at one point...

I stayed there this summer, and while the lobby is beautiful, the entire hotel had a sort-of "run down", past glory feeling to it, and our room was tiny. Overall though, we got a great deal,and the pool area was, architecturally, very interesting--be sure to check it out if you stay there.

By Lila

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Feb 7, 2001

Our favorite long weekend getaway

We nearly always stay here. Great location for walking to museums, to Michigan Ave and other shopping. ALways busy and something going on. Our favorite restaurants at the Italian Village in next block, the wonderful Millers Pub next door. More economical parking on weekends than at some other hotels. Love to sit in lobby and watch people or just stare at that funky ceiling! Public rooms are beautiful. Have had some pretty ordinary guest rooms

but also a great big old corner room with marble fireplace.

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By John

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Oct 14, 2000

Location, Location, Location

Great lobby. Great location. Convienient to everything! Try the "L", take the bus, walk around. One of our favorites!

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