Chicago, help w/ dates & hotels

Old Aug 9th, 2004, 12:20 PM
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Chicago, help w/ dates & hotels

I originally posted this on another thread specific to Chicgal, but thought I'd repost seperately so that I could get all Fodorites wisdom.

DH just bought me plane tickets to Chicago for my birthday (I think I'll keep him!) However there is an issue. He bought our tickets so that we arrive September 10 & leave September 13 and there is apparently a huge convention in town that weekend. Therefore there are no hotels to be found.

I'm going to change tickets to either the last weekend in September (24-27) or the first weekend in October (1-4). Which would you recommend? I'm leaning towards the second weekend, only because the Cubs are in town & although they're sold out, there's a better chance of seeing them when they're in town . They're out of town the last weekend of September.

Any thoughts? Also hotel recs would be great. I think we're going to Priceline it though because we don't want to spend much more than $100, and the areas we're looking in, that's not gonna happen! We're thinking Loop or North Michigan Ave.

Thanks for any advice!!

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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 12:43 PM
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I can't think of any reason that would sway me one way or the other on the weekend. The weekend of Oct 10 is the marathon in case you decide to delay it further and there will be a problem with hotels that weekend as well.

As far as Priceline goes, check out www.biddingfortravel.com before you bid on Priceline so you can see what hotels pop up in which areas and how much people are bidding on them. Most visitors bid for N. Michigan Avenue which is best for shopping and dining but 4* River North can also be OK and the Loop may be slightly better for museums although there's one in each 4* and 3* that I would find inconvenient (W City Center and Hotel Allegro).
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Here's the link to the Chicago convention calendar: http://www.choosechicago.com/smi/calendar.cfm

I find it rather helpful in planning.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Sorry, the link didn't take for some reason; let's try again:
http://www.choosechicago.com/smi/calendar.cfm
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 05:36 PM
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Thanks for the advice so far. I know it seems like apples to apples as far as the weekend selection, but sometimes the "outdoorsy" tourist stuff shuts down at the end of September. I already noticed that some of the boat tours have spotty schedules that first weekend in Oct.

I have checked out bft quite a bit. Honestly I am a bit timid to ask for help because they can be so mean sometimes. So, I am trying to research as much as possible before posting & looking like an idiot.

What is it about the W City Center & the Hotel Allegro that is inconvenient? I think that the Loop might be good for us because we really want to check out the museums. We do have a 3 day transpo pass though, so I guess it doesn't matter.

What are the chances for getting tickets to a Cubs game if it's sold out? Also, has anyone been to the Gin Mill? I know it's a Michigan State bar, and the Spartans are playing Iowa the weekend we're leaning towards. Would be fun to watch a game there with fellow Spartans. Thanks for all of your wonderful help!!
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 08:51 PM
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The Hotel Allegro is about 5 blocks (a little more than 1/2 mile) from Michigan Avenue, the only thing it's close to is the Palace Theatre. 5 blocks doesn't seem like a lot but that area gets a bit deserted at night as does the area around the W City Center which is in the middle of the business district. There are not a lot of restaurants open at night in either area. That being said, it's not the end of the world if you get either of those but if you are traveling later at night you might consider a cab if you are the only ones around.

I've never bid on Chicago hotels since I live here but have used Priceline several times for London and love the deals I get. I've never had to post over there for help, if you take a look around you should be able to see what hotels come up in what areas so that you are comfortable with all the possible options, get an idea of what people are bidding around your weekend and see reviews of some of the hotels.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 11:42 PM
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I spent a week at the Allegro in December. The location was just ok--I would have been much happier closer in to Mich.Ave or higher up on the Gold Coast. The area felt not dead but rather quiet at night. (hotel was assigned by convention booking service)
Re the hotel itself, not very happy with it. My room was ok, but my colleagues were given VERY small rooms, among the smallest hotel rooms I've seen in Chicago (I've stayed at more than a dozen different Chicago hotels). Service was erratic and the service for breakfast in the morning was just plain terrible. I would not stay there by choice. If I were to stay down in that general area again, I would pick the Silversmith. Their rooms and service were better than the Allegro, hands down.
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:22 AM
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chigal~ consider yourself an honorary Spartan! Thanks for the link, and for the advice you posted on the other thread. I guess it's down to this: How easy is it to get Cubs tix when they're sold out? Can you come by them fairly easily if you spend the pre-game in Wrigleyville? It's the last series of the season & against Atlanta, so they might be hard to com by. But, then again, it would be neat to just go to Wrigleyville during a game anyway! So, I think we're going the 1st weekend in Oct. whew! That decision is made!

Now.....Kristi, thanks for your advice on hotels, definately good to know. I think we want to stay somewhere where you get a hint of the hustle & bustle of being in a big city. That being the case I think I'll stick to North Michigan & River North in my bidding to avoid the Allegra & W City Center.

I'm going to work up an itinerary & post here for critique!! Ohhh this is FUN!!! I haven't planned a vacation in FOREVER!!
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:34 AM
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If the Cubs are still in the playoff hunt, then you may find it harder to get tickets around Wrigley -- particularly if the race is going down to the wire. If they are out of it (I hope not ) Then you will probably find more sellers. We went to a game a couple of weekends ago, and there were more buyers than sellers on the streets around Wrigley.
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:38 AM
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Cassidy,

Know what you mean about bft and how snarly they can get so try betterbidding.com.

Run by a Michigander, he will IM you with steps to take 'live' while looking at the site with you. Even tho I don't have IM, he still sent detailed e-mails to help me through it. Great folks and great help.
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 08:13 AM
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I agree with tmh's recommendation to use betterbidding.com. They are very helpful and I've always been happy with the results I've gotten from Priceline with their help.
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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I would say the possibility of getting Cubs tickets for a sold out game depends on what you are willing to spend. Buyers and sellers mill around outside the stadium, and then there are also the ticket broker offices all around the stadium. We got 2 for Maddux trying for no. 300 and Nomar's first game on a recent sold-out Sunday, but it was $90 for $17 ticket, and it was already the second inning.
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 11:47 AM
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cassidy2002,

We returned from a week in Chicago a few days ago. On priceline we bid for a 4 star, North Michigan Ave. and got the Hyatt Regency for $65.00/night.

It was o.k., nothing special. Couldn't beat the price. Typical business hotel. Frankly, the best thing we thought they had going for it was The Big Bar (actual name)!! Pretty much floor to ceiling windows and 6 plazma tvs with the bar being 175' long!!!!! At night, with music. they run 6 bartenders.

Curious
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Cassisdy:

I bid with Priceline twice for Chicago, but around X-mas both times. The first time I bid $75 on a Friday for a Saturday night and got the Swissotel on Wacker, which was very nice-very large room, beautiful view of the lake and Navy Pier, great staff. The second I bid $75 and got the Sheraton which was also nice. Both of these hotels are near Mag mile. I usually look at bidding for travel to get an idea of what range to start bidding in and what zones I can use for free rebids.
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 12:16 PM
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Chicgal~ looking forward to being in Wrigleyville, whether or not we get tickets! I'm a huge sports nut & was pondering the possibility of getting Cubs tix for Sat & Bears tix for Sun, but that would be waaaay too expensive; plus, there's so much else to see I'd feel guilty sitting & watching games when there are museums to see & tours to take!

Katie7~ I've seen that the Hyatt has been won a lot recently (and in September) at pretty good prices. I've read some pretty sketchy reviews on it, but for $60-$70 in Chicago, I won't complain! Plus, that bar sounds pretty interesting!

I was trying to put an itinerery together and am getting super frazzled...so much to do! To help me get a skeleton itinerary ready for critique, can you give me estimated (I know this is very subjective)time to be spent @ the Field Museum, The Shedd, The Art Institute, & the Museum of Science?
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 12:18 PM
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I'm sorry, Katie, I meant to direct my Hyatt comment to Curious.

The Swisshotel has popped up recently, and that's what I'm hoping for. At the same time, trying not to get my hopes up, because you never know with Priceline!

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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 01:55 PM
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It's very possible you could get tickets to that Cubs game now, on Ebay! It's worth a look, at least. But it'll probably cost you...
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Old Aug 10th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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Cassidy2002, unless they have changed things because the stadium is falling apart; You can buy standing room only cubs tickets the day of game.

This will give you the opportunity to get a taste of a cubs game, i think they around $8 (not sure), which could give you an opportunity to watch a little bit of the game and leave when you start getting board.
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Old Aug 11th, 2004, 04:16 AM
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Cassidy:

We always hope for the Swissotel when we bid but end up with the Sheraton-it's nice but the rooms are smaller. The bathrooms at the Swissotel are the best. I think we might have gotten that time because I waited to bid until the last minute. I was suprised because it was the peak of X-mas shopping and party season. A pro for the Sheraton is location-the Swissotel on on the other side of the river so walking to the Mag mile when it's cold can be a challenge. Lots of people get the Hyatt-it's right next to the Swissotel and looks really crowded. We also stayed at the Westin MI av.-the location is great-right on MI across from John Hancock bldg. Rooms re clean, small and slightly dated.
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