Essex Inn Rating: 3.0 Pearls
South Loop, Chicago, Illinois

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Across the street from Grant Park
  • Comfortable rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Mini-fridges and flat-screens
  • Impressive indoor pool and fitness center
  • Rooftop garden with views of Lake Michigan
  • Free shuttle to tourist sights
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Valet parking is pricey
  • Rooms are on the small side
  • Decor is generic and slightly dated

Bottom Line

This 254-room Essex Inn is a decent value pick across the street from Grant Park, near the Museum Campus. Some of the bright, comfortable (if chain-like) rooms have great views of the lake, and the huge indoor pool and state-of-the-art fitness center are both pluses. It's true that leisure travelers can usually find comparable hotels farther north for similar rates, but the free Michigan Avenue shuttle to popular sites helps compensate for the South Loop location.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Generic decor, but great extras like a rooftop garden and indoor pool

Inside, the Essex Inn feels somewhat generic -- ugly carpets, chain-like furniture, and few personalized details or artistic touches. But its great extras -- an impressive indoor pool, a rooftop garden overlooking Lake Michigan, a free shuttle to tourist sights -- make it better than a run-of-the-mill mid-range property. Plus, it's got great amenities for both families and business travelers: Coin-operated laundry, mini-fridges, and large suites for families, and a 24-hour business center and quality fitness center for business travelers.

 Location

In South Loop, overlooking Michigan Ave and Grant Park

The Essex Inn is located on the southern end of the so-called Michigan Avenue Cultural Mile, the stretch of Michigan Avenue that runs from the Chicago River down the length of Grant Park. It gets its name from the numerous cultural attractions it goes past, including the Jay Pritzer Pavilion at Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum Campus, home to the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History.

The Loop, the historic commercial center of Downtown Chicago, is a 5-minute drive away, or a 15-minute walk. Magnificent Mile, an iconic stretch of North Michigan Avenue famous for its upscale shopping, and home to galleries and landmarks (the historic Water Tower, the Wrigley Building) is a 7-minute drive away. The Essex Inn provides a free shuttle that makes four runs in the morning to the Museum Campus and then makes stops in the afternoon at North Michigan Avenue, the Art Institute, and Navy Pier.

  • 4-minute drive to Grant Park
  • 7-minute drive to the Chicago Cultural Center
  • 7-minute drive to the Magnificent Mile
  • 7-minute drive to the Museum of Contemporary Art
  • 7-minute drive to Tribune Tower
  • 7-minute drive to the John G. Shedd Aquarium
  • 8-minute drive to the Chicago Water Tower
  • 8-minute drive to Chinatown
  • 10-minute drive to Lincoln Park Zoo
  • 30-minute drive to O’Hare International Airport

 Rooms

Floor-to-ceiling windows, mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs

King Suite
King Suite

All the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, some with great views of Lake Michigan, Grant Park, and the Museum Campus. But the decor feels generic and slightly dated.

  • Flat-screen TV
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Desk
  • Alarm clock radio with iPod hookup
  • Mini-fridge
  • Coffee/tea maker
  • Iron and ironing board

 Features

Indoor rooftop pool is a family favorite

The pool
The pool

The Essex Inn’s enormous, heated indoor pool is a big hit with families. The hotel also has a moderately priced restaurant, Brasserie by LM; a rooftop garden overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan; free Wi-Fi; a sauna; and a well-equipped fitness center.

  • Indoor rooftop pool in a big, airy room on the fourth floor with a view of Lake Michigan; lots of lounge chairs as well as tables with board games; decorative plants; international flags hanging from the ceiling
  • Sauna
  • Fitness center: 1,350 square feet; treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines, weight machines, free weights, and 6 TVs
  • Rooftop garden overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan
  • Brasserie by LM serves a wide range of moderately priced French-inspired cuisine
  • 24-hour business center with desktop computers, high-speed Internet access (for a fee), a printer; copy machine and supplies; fax machine at the front desk
  • Free Michigan Avenue shuttle; runs in the morning to the Museum Campus and afternoon to North Michigan Avenue, the Art Institute, and Navy Pier
  • Valet parking is charged per day, with in-and-out privileges
  • Free Wi-Fi in the room and throughout the hotel
  • ATM in the lobby
  • Laundry room with supplies and coin-operated machines
  • 5 meeting/banquet rooms
  • Smoking rooms available
  • The hotel has been awarded the Green Seal certified Bronze for its waste minimization, water and energy efficiency and other environmentally-friendly practices.

 Bottom Line

This 254-room Essex Inn is a decent value pick across the street from Grant Park, near the Museum Campus. Some of the bright, comfortable (if chain-like) rooms have great views of the lake, and the huge indoor pool and state-of-the-art fitness center are both pluses. It's true that leisure travelers can usually find comparable hotels farther north for similar rates, but the free Michigan Avenue shuttle to popular sites helps compensate for the South Loop location.

Things You Should Know About Essex Inn

Address

  • 800 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60605, US

Room Types

  • Double Suite
  • Family Room
  • King Deluxe Room
  • King Suite
  • Standard Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 254
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: South Loop, Chicago
Address: 800 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60605, US
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