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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chicago, Illinois -- Holiday Inn Express Magnificent Mile

Status perks
I received a coupon at check-in, which was good for a free movie or 2,500 bonus points. I took the bonus points!

Photo taken from inside the closet
I received a room on the 8th floor at the end of the hall. The room was very small. There was barely room for a small chaise type sofa against the wall next to the closet. There was a microwave, fridge, and desk/table with chair. The desk chair hit the foot of the bed when sitting down or getting up. I had to use the sofa to set my suitcase on because there was no other place to put it. It would have been difficult for two people to stay in the room, or to fit two beds in it. The diagram on the back of the door looked like all the rooms on this floor were the same size. A safe in the closet was large enough for my laptop, and a flat screen TV was cleverly hung on the wall in the corner. The bathroom did not have any counter space. I found the hairdryer under the sink, and there was a small ledge under the mirror for the bathroom amenities. The view from the room wasn't too bad considering it was only on the 8th floor. I usually prefer a higher floor; however, this time it was probably better that I was not on the 16th floor. I waited a long time for the elevator in the morning, and it stopped at every floor on the way down. I did not hear any noise from other guestrooms; however, the noise in the hall from guests around the corner and at the other end of the hall was loud for a while in the evening. It sounded like the noise was coming from right outside my door, so the hall noise travels easily.

Food & Beverage
Fortunately, there is a Starbucks directly across the street, since I have never cared for the coffee quality at Holiday Inn Express. The food at this property was very disappointing. It was typical HIX fare--cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy, cold cereal, milk, juice, and fruit. The choices were less than I have seen at other HIX, and the food did not taste fresh. First, I tried the scrambled eggs and bacon, which I threw out because the eggs tasted watery, and the bacon did not have good flavor. Then, I tried milk and a banana that looked firm and fresh. I threw both of these items out also. The banana lacked flavor and was not firm. The milk was not spoiled, although it did not have good flavor. Everything I tried lacked flavor. Fresh water was available in an iced pitcher all evening, which was nice.

Business center
There were two computers and a printer on the counter next to the dining area. I was able to print a document without any trouble.

Fitness center
I was extremely disappointed that I had not noticed there is not a fitness center at this hotel before I decided to stay here. When I inquired about this at the front desk, I was told that guests staying here are allowed to use the center at the InterContinental (1/2 mile away) for a discounted rate of $25! I did no ask what the normal fee is, although I decided to look up the hotel fitness center online. Guests staying at the IC have to pay $12 per day or $16 per stay to use the fitness center. Wow ~ I think that's too expensive for someone like me who mostly wanted to walk for an hour or less. I would have walked through Chicago except that it was extremely cold out (I had not packed for outside exercise), and it's difficult to walk at a brisk pace among all the people.

Parking & misc.
Valet parking is available for $40 a night. The hotel site says that self parking is available for $34 a night. It is actually a public parking lot next door, which costs $34 for 24-hours. There are no spots designated for HIX guests, and there is no access to the hotel from the parking garage. You have to walk out to the public street through the car entrance from the parking garage, or carry your luggage down stairs that exit next to the HIX (you can not enter at the stairway door; only exit). I was glad that I had opted to leave my luggage with the bellman before parking!