Travel Tuesday: Home2 Suites Chicago McCormick Place Hotel Review
Last month, for the fourth year in a row, my wife and I headed up to the Windy City to attend C2E2. As you may recall, after previously staying downtown and shuttling or driving in to the convention center, we decided to try staying at McCormick Place itself. Having tried the Hyatt Regency last time, this year, we decided to give the Hilton property a shot — specifically opting to stay at the Home2 Suites.
So, how was our Home2 experience and would we choose this McCormick Place option again for future C2E2s? Let’s take a look at our stay.
Reviewing the Home2 Suites Chicago McCormick Place
To be honest, while I knew that there was a Hilton nearby McCormick, I wasn’t exactly sure where it was or what brand it was. As it turns out, there are actually three Hilton brands under one convention center-attached roof: Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, and Home2 Suites. After comparing options and prices, we opted for the lattermost brand (as you probably gathered from my headline and intro).
Since I had some Hilton Honors points on hand, I decided to cash some in for our stay. However, my balance didn’t quite cover the full amount, so I had to pay part in cash. In total, for four nights, I redeemed 113,000 Honors points and paid nearly $640 after taxes. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is — but that’s likely because it’s a popular event at a convention center hotel and we waited until pretty close to the event time to book. For reference, our nights could have been booked for 60k points each.
According to the Hilton site, this property only offers valet parking. So, that’s what we did… although I’m not sure we actually needed to. Let me explain.
First, let me say that my wife nor I am very experienced with either valet parking or driving in big cities. Thus, beginning the valet process was a bit intimidating. In fact, the first time we drove by, we accidentally passed the place and had to circle the block. However, in doing so, we found a parking lot around the corner that offered self-parking and even mentioned rates for up to 24 hours. The downside was that it didn’t say anything about overnight parking.
In any case, we managed to make our way back to the property and flag down the valet. He took our name and let us know that it’d be $59 per night billed to our room. Sure enough, this charge appeared on our bill shortly after checkout.
Here’s the thing though: we could see our car from our room and, sure enough, it was parked in the lot we’d driven past. Moreover, after the valet initially brought the wrong car to us upon our early morning checkout, we walked over to our car and just had him lift the gate for us. This experience would lead me to believe that it’s very possible to just self-park in this lot and save some money. Alas, with it being our first time, we didn’t want to take any chances — but, next time around, I think I might give it a shot. (Just don’t blame me if you try this and I’m wrong!)
Walking into the lobby of this three-brand property, I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly. As it turns out, it was all pretty simple. First, we were greeted by team members who were able to direct us to our room (since we’d already checked in on the app and had our room number). However, despite this, we decided to check in at the desk and get physical keys since there was no line at the time. On that note, there is just one front desk regardless of the brand you’re staying with, so that makes things simple.
In all, retrieving our keys took all of two minutes and we were on our way.
The elevators at the Hilton McCormick Place property are unique — but not because of their actual functionality. Instead, it’s the fact that each bank serves a different brand that sets them apart. Lest you worry, not only are the brand names pretty visible above each bank’s hallway but, from what I can tell, there are also doors separating the brands on each floor in case you do end up in the wrong lift.
As for the elevators themselves, I have to give them a thumbs up simply because I never experienced any long waits coming or going. Of course, one downside is that you do need to tap your room key in order to get to your floor. While this does technically work with a mobile key, I always opt for a physical key to make this process easier. Nevertheless, solid elevators.
Let’s start with the main reason why we choose Home2 over the other options at this property: there’s a kitchenette. In each room, you’ll find a full-sized (well, small but definitely not mini) fridge, microwave, and a dishwasher — along with plates and flatware. Plus, according to the sticker on the microwave, guests can request a portable stovetop and accessories for no additional charge. As badly as we wanted to check this out, we didn’t get around to it. Still, it’s great to know that the option is there.
Moving on, while it is called Home2 Suites, that second word may be a technicality. While there is a couch and a curtain that could be used to section off the “living room” and “bedroom,” I’m not sure this meets the established definition. Regardless, there was a good amount of room to be found.
Speaking of room, akin to Tru by Hilton, I found that Home2 had some clever and economical features. For example, while one could use the table tucked against the wall as a desk, it could also be pulled out and used for dining — which we did on multiple occasions. Although a downside is that there’s only one proper chair (the office chair), the ottoman was tall enough that it worked decently for this purpose. Still, I’d be nice if an extra dining chair were tucked away somewhere (unless there is one and we somehow missed it).
Turning to the bed, while it wasn’t overly fancy, I found it to be perfectly comfortable. And, while we’re on the topic of sleeping, I felt blessed to not have any major sound issues. While we could hear sirens from the road every once in a while, they weren’t terrible. Similarly, we barely heard our neighbors except for a couple of times during the day.
Lastly, the bathroom was also pretty nice. This includes the standing shower, which is my preference. To be honest, I’ve found that bathrooms are the part of the hotel room most likely to show the property’s age — and, if that’s the case, this one must be pretty new (I honestly have no idea when it opened). This is to say that the place looked great and worked well.
All in all, this room really suited us. Not only did it meet our needs but, as dumb as it may sound to say, also had a vibe that really seemed to match ours. Thus, we were quite comfortable during our four-night stay.
Skybridge to McCormick Place
As for the property itself, the star feature in our case was the fact that it connects to the McCormick Place via Skybridge. Thanks to this, we were able to get from our room to the North Hall in about 10 minutes. If your event is in the est Hall, then you’ll be even closer. However, with C2E2 taking place in the North Hall each year, the Hyatt Regency was the closer option. Still, it was quite easy to find our way to the convention and quickly.
One other thing to note about Skybridge is that, as we were told at check-in, the doors are locked after a certain hour. So, if you’re crossing after that, you may need to use a special key, which they provided us. In our experience, the doors were actually propped so we never had to use these extra keys. Part of me wonders if this is because some guests may be using mobile keys in the Hilton app (which we almost did). It’s unclear to me how this would work since the Skybridge keys were separate from our room keys. In any case, hopefully no one ever has to find out whether or not it works — and I’d advise guests to pick up physical keys at the desk for this reason.
For Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites guests, there is a complimentary continental breakfast available on level 2 (apparently Garden Inn guests have a different offering but I didn’t venture upstairs to see it). This included standards such as make-your-own waffles, toast-your-own bagels, and pour-your-own coffee. In fact, the coffee is apparently available at all hours of the day and night. Personally, I found the food to be perfectly fine for what it was and the coffee was also passable.
Aside from this and the Garden Inn breakfast spot, there aren’t any other actual dining locations at the Hilton property itself. That said, there is a somewhat attached Starbucks if you’re looking for an upgrade from the free stuff. Also, in the lobby, there’s a self-checkout minimart that had a pretty decent selection of items at not-as-horrible-as-you-might-fear prices. This came in handy after our first convention day when we desperately needed a snack (having skipped lunch in the hubbub of the event) but weren’t quite ready for dinner. After you make your selection, you can use the tablet to scan the items and can enter your room number to pay.
Of course, with the property plopped in the middle of Chicago, there are plenty of off-campus dining options as well. To one side was a hotpot place while, to the other side, was a sports bar called Fat Pour. We gave the latter a shot on our last evening and really enjoyed it. Admittedly, we also paid a visit to the Papa John’s across the street from the hotel as I had a Grubhub credit (from my Amex Gold card) to use before the month’s end. So, while there aren’t many dining options at the Hilton complex itself, you won’t be more than a few steps away from culinary delight.
Final Thoughts on Home2 Suites at McCormick Place
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at the Home2 Suites Chicago McCormick Place. Even though it’s a longer walk to the convention (assuming C2E2 keeps the same set-up in future years) than the Hyatt and has fewer on-property dining options, I think Home2 Suites at McCormick Place will be our new go-to. I suppose we could also try the other brands that the building houses, but we were big fans of the room set up with Home2. In fact, on future trips elsewhere, I’d happily try the Home2 brand again — especially if we planned on spending multiple nights there since the kitchenette features are a game-changer. Of course, the only real downside of this specific location is the apparent need to valet park… although, as I mentioned, I question that requirement.
Just as we enjoyed the Tru by Hilton brand for its clever use of space, Home2 Suites feels like an extended-stay version of that concept. In other words, it fit us quite well. Thus, depending on the price, the Home2 Suites Chicago McCormick Place is one I’d recommend — and I’m excited to try other Home2 locations on future travels.