Courtyard by Marriott Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile Review
Even though I’ve been to Chicago a total four times now (four times in less than a decade, not too bad considering my list of places is exponentially long), I have always stayed in one of two areas, River North and the Magnificent Mile. I know, I know-that’s not really displaying positive traveler behavior, especially since I couldn’t stop gushing about how nice it was to stay far away from the chaotic mess that is Times Square on my trip to New York City back in September. Savvy travelers don’t just frequent the one area most tourists think of when they think of a particular locale i.e. the Magnificent Mile. But here’s the thing-my four trips to Chicago have always been on the shorter side, regrettably, (two nights) and so staying in a central spot where it’s easy to walk around and has good access to public transportation is a huge plus. And the Magnificent Mile is just that.
As this was going to be a very quick trip to the Windy City (we would physically be there for just over 48 hours), I didn’t want to spend a fortune on the room since I knew we wouldn’t be spending too much time in it between our epic walking tour, seeing Hamilton, and eating as much as humanly possible. Well, we actually did hang out in it more than I’d planned but that was only because on our full day there, it rained hard continuously and a person can only take that soaked feeling so much at one time. Thankfully though, the room was massive compared to our teeny tiny accommodations in Union Square. So price-wise, for staying at a well reviewed hotel right in the thick of things, the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown/Magnificent Mile definitely fit the bill.
The Courtyard isn’t actually right ON the Magnificent Mile ( Michigan Avenue is the actual street name). However, trust me when I say that’s a good thing. At certain times of the day, the Mile can feel shades of Times Square so being a bit removed is a welcome respite. Close and quick enough to get to but removed enough so you don’t feel like you’re fighting crowds just to get to your hotel’s front door.
Due to me not fully thinking when booking our plane tickets (well, in my defense this was my first time flying into Midway Airport and Southwest only has so many direct flights a day from Pittsburgh), we arrived right at rush hour. So that was fun (i.e. never again). But all things considered, we still made it to the hotel at 8:30 in the morning. There was a room ready at that time but as it was ADA compliant, I passed. (We stayed in one of those in Dublin and the “open shower” resulted in a watery mess on the floor every time we used it.) The front desk staff was very nice and they took our number and said they would text us when a room was ready. They estimated about noon, which wasn’t too bad.
In terms of location, you couldn’t be in a better one. You’re less than a 10 minute walk to iconic sights like the Hancock Tower and the Water Tower (one of the few buildings to survive the infamous Chicago Fire of 1871). Also, you literally have hundreds of food options to choose from including Chicago favorites like garden dogs from Portillos (where we went for lunch) and the famous deep dish pizza (Lou Malnati’s is my favorite but Pizzeria Due is also good). A bell-hop gave us a recommendation for a quick and cheap breakfast spot, the West Egg Cafe, just down the street on Fairbanks Court. And even though I had never heard of it before, Garrett Popcorn has a store a stone’s throw from the hotel. The smells wafting from the shop are divine and literally as soon as you turned onto Ontario Street from Michigan Avenue you could smell the popcorn and knew you were going the right way.
Our room was located on the 20th floor and in a major city, I definitely appreciate being as high up as possible (there were 24 floors total). One of the things I liked most about the room (besides its spacious size) was the fact that there was a little hallway between the front door and the actual room portion. I feel when in a hotel and subject to the potentially rude and abysmal behavior of other guests, having some space between you and the hallway outside makes a huge difference. Not anything of note, but the room offered great views looking down onto Ontario Street. The bed was super comfortable and there was an awesome art piece hanging above it. Two other pluses-the sink was separate from the toilet/shower and housekeeping had been in and left in the time we went for breakfast on our full day there.
The hotel is of course home to a bar and restaurant (the Copper Fox Gastropub) but in a city like Chicago I’m not about to spend my limited dining ventures at a hotel restaurant (regardless of good it may be). They were also extremely busy, at least in the evening hours. There’s also a tiny Starbucks on site which we did go to. After being on our feet for over three hours on our walking tour, we were in need of a quick and sugary kick, which we got with fruit infused ice teas.
There is a pool on-site but since I’m so used to city hotels not having pools, I forgot to pack swimsuits. That would have been nice, especially after our walking tour. So don’t forget yours!
All of the staff we dealt with at the hotel were extremely warm and welcoming. So for this and everything else I mentioned which accounted for our seamless stay, I can’t recommend the Courtyard enough. While I always enjoy trying out new hotels, especially in a city I’ve been to numerous times, I also wouldn’t mind returning to a spot that was just about perfect.
165 East Ontario Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611
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