Congress Plaza Hotel Rating: 2.5 Pearls
South Loop, Chicago, Illinois

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Internet only available in lobby, charged by the hour
  • Nightly fee for self and valet parking
  • Basic rooms with no climate control

Bottom Line

This historic, 851-room hotel across from Grant Park is the cheaper alternative to the neighboring Hilton Chicago -- and you get what you pay for. The lobby is elegant, but features are few and rooms are basic. (None have Wi-Fi, and guests can't adjust the room temperature.) Even when the rates are low, you can probably do better elsewhere.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Impressive history, but this hotel's glory days are long behind it

Built in 1893 to accommodate the visitors of the World’s Columbian Exposition, the hotel has had a glorious past, and has hosted several presidents and other notable politicians. Famous political speeches have echoed in its elegant halls; Democrat and Republican conventions have been held in its ballrooms; and a famous NBC Radio show had its headquarters here -- but that was all a long time ago.

Today, the hotel lives to some extent on its past reputation. While parts of the huge property were renovated in 2007, others are trapped in time. The public areas, however, are still impressive, with ornate blind arches, marble, and chandeliers.

 Location

Across the street from Grant Park and blocks from six subway lines

The Congress Plaza is located in the South Loop, across the street from Grant Park and its famous Buckingham Fountain, which can be seen from most of the rooms. Museum Campus is just a short walk away, and there are six subway lines and one Metro line within two blocks of the hotel. However, the vibrant Loop neighborhood and the Magnificent Mile are farther north.

  • 7-minute walk to the Art Institute of Chicago
  • 11-minute walk to the Millennium Park
  • 6-minute drive to the Theatre District
  • 6-minute drive to the Chicago City Hall
  • 7-minute drive to the Magnificent Mile
  • 20-minute bus ride to Kenwood neighborhood
  • 20-minute subway ride to the John Hancock Observatory
  • 20-minute subway ride to Old Town
  • 25-minute subway ride to the Museum of Science and Industry
  • 25-minute subway ride to Wrigley Field
  • 20-minute drive to Midway International Airport
  • 30-minute drive to O’Hare International Airport

 Rooms

Worn furniture and no Internet

Courtyard Room
Courtyard Room

Rooms were renovated in 2007 in an old-world style, with wood bed frames, gold bed throws, and cream patterned wallpaper. But some rooms have ugly curtains and stained carpets, and the furniture in most rooms is already starting to show its age.

  • 32-inch flat-screen TV with cable access (including Showtime, CNN and ESPN)
  • Coffeemaker
  • Shower/tub combo
  • Safe
  • Iron and ironing board
  • No climate control, so you can't adjust the temperature of the room

 Features

Cheaper parking than other Chicago hotels and a 24-hour fitness center

  • Wi-Fi available only in the lobby for an hourly fee
  • Meeting and events space: Over 50,000 square feet, including an 8,300-square-foot ballroom
  • 24-hour business center
  • 24-hour fitness center
  • Room service provided by the hotel’s two restaurants
  • No extra person charges for children under 17
  • Valet and self-parking charged per night

 Food

  • Gazebo is a casual American restaurant open daily for breakfast and lunch
  • Rafael’s serves American classics for lunch and dinner daily
  • The Congress Lounge has a pool table, beers, cocktails, and wine, and a short menu with American comfort food like chicken tenders and brie quesadillas

 Bottom Line

This historic, 851-room hotel across from Grant Park is the cheaper alternative to the neighboring Hilton Chicago -- and you get what you pay for. The lobby is elegant, but features are few and rooms are basic. (None have Wi-Fi, and guests can't adjust the room temperature.) Even when the rates are low, you can probably do better elsewhere.

Things You Should Know About Congress Plaza Hotel

Address

  • 520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

Room Types

  • City View Suite
  • Deluxe Lakefront Suite
  • Family Suite
  • Lakefront Suite
  • Lakeview Double Room
  • Lakeview King Room
  • Standard Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 907
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): Some
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Hotel Information

Location: South Loop, Chicago
Address: 520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605
(See Map)
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