The Palmer House Hilton Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Loop, Chicago, Illinois

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Breathtaking lobby with painted ceiling
  • Indoor pool
  • Located in the Loop
  • Huge fitness center
  • On-site shopping
  • Historic hotel
  • Free Wi-Fi in the lobby

Cons

  • Daily fee for Wi-Fi
  • Pricey self and valet parking
  • Room service isn’t 24-hour
  • Fee to use fitness center
  • Fees to use business center services
  • Tube TVs in many rooms

Bottom Line

This 1,639-room historic hotel in the Loop has a storied past, and a breathtaking lobby with a painted ceiling and glittering chandeliers. But room quality is uneven -- some rooms still have dated decor and tube TVs -- and all the extra fees can add up. If you don't mind sacrificing the history, it's worth considering the similarly priced Hotel Monaco or Fairmont.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A historic, stately hotel -- though some rooms are showing their age

The historic Palmer House Hilton was built as a gift by Potter Palmer for his bride Bertha in 1871, but the timing couldn't have been worse: Just thirteen days after opening, the Great Chicago Fire ravaged the city. The hotel was rebuilt with a $1.7 million signature loan (the largest individual loan at the time) and reopened in 1873.

The dramatic lobby, with glittering chandeliers and a painted ceiling, evokes the hotel's grand past. Numerous famous guests have passed through here, including Charles Dickens and Frank Sinatra. But although the hotel has undergone several renovations — the last one in 2008 — and the public spaces still impress, some rooms are showing their age.

 Location

Located in The Loop, within walking distance of Millennium Park

The Palmer House is located in The Loop, within walking distance of Millennium Park, Grant Park, Lake Michigan, and the Art Institute of Chicago (where you can view paintings that at one time hung in the Palmer House).

  • 3-minute walk to the Art Institute of Chicago
  • 7-minute walk to Macy’s State Street
  • 9-minute walk to Millennium Park
  • 12-minute walk to Grant Park
  • 7-minute drive to Navy Pier
  • 7-minute drive to the Hancock Observatory
  • 8-minute drive to Magnificent Mile shopping
  • 10-minute drive to Adler Planetarium
  • 11-minute drive to Museum Campus
  • 12-minute drive to Lincoln Park Zoo
  • 27-minute drive to O’Hare International Airport

 Rooms

Clean and comfortable enough, but some have tube TVs and some are showing wear and tear

Standard Double
Standard Double

Rooms were last renovated in 2008, and feature Hilton's Serenity Dream beds, but some guests continue to complain of chipped furniture, peeling paint, and thin walls. Most rooms have one of two styles of decor: contemporary, with green and red accents, or a little more generic (and more dated), with muted red and blue accents. Executive rooms feature a DVD player and free DVD rentals, a private elevator, access to the Executive Lounge with private check-in, free boarding pass printing, free continental breakfast, free hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon, free coffee, tea and snacks all day, and bartender service in the evenings.

  • Hilton Serenity Dream beds with pillow-top mattresses
  • Clock radio with MP3 hook-up
  • 27-inch TV with on-demand movies and video games (either flat-screen or tube)
  • Crabtree and Evelyn bath products
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Newspaper delivery
  • Remote printing
  • Room service not 24 hours

 Features

Indoor pool and a tri-level fitness center

The pool
The pool
  • Self and valey parking are pricey
  • Per day fee for Wi-Fi
  • Tri-level fitness center with locker rooms, an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, lounge, and classes; Per person per day fee to use
  • Indoor pool is on the small side, and there are cushioned chairs, but no loungers
  • Spa with 10 treatment rooms and salon
  • Shops at Palmer House include Aldo, Crocs, Aerosoles, and more
  • Hotel business center: Printer, computers, fax machine, copier
  • UPS business center on-site
  • Pets up to 75 pounds allowed for a fee
  • 100,000 square feet of meeting space
  • 24-hour front desk staff

 Food

California-inspired cuisine at Lockwood Restaurant

  • Lockwood Restaurant and Bar serves breakfast, afternoon tea, lunch, and dinner in a sophisticated, contemporary space. A 2,000-square-foot garden and apiary on the hotel's roof provides fresh ingredients for dishes and cocktails.
  • Potter’s Lounge is a lobby-level lounge with leather couches and wood floors; a 2,000-square-foot garden and apiary on the hotel's roof provides fresh ingredients for dishes and cocktails. Food and drink menu available in the afternoons and evenings
  • Lobby bar: Serves lunch, dinner and afternoon tea

 Bottom Line

This 1,639-room historic hotel in the Loop has a storied past, and a breathtaking lobby with a painted ceiling and glittering chandeliers. But room quality is uneven -- some rooms still have dated decor and tube TVs -- and all the extra fees can add up. If you don't mind sacrificing the history, it's worth considering the similarly priced Hotel Monaco or Fairmont.

Things You Should Know About The Palmer House Hilton Hotel

Address

  • 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL, 60603, US

Room Types

  • Executive Room
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • Room with 2 Bathrooms
  • Smaller Room
  • Standard Accessible Room
  • Standard Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 1639
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: The Loop, Chicago
Address: 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL, 60603, US
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