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Chicago's Essex Inn 3.0

South Loop, Chicago, Illinois

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Review Summary

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


  • Valet parking is pricey
  • Rooms are on the small side
  • Halls are dark and a little musty
  • Decor is generic and slightly dated

Bottom Line

This 254-room Chicago's Essex Inn is a decent value pick across the street from Grant Park, near the Museum Campus. Some of the 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 (like the Best Western Hawthorne Terrace), but the hotel's free Michigan Avenue shuttle to popular sites helps compensate for the South Loop location.

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

Interiors of this value hotel are generic, but features like the rooftop garden, which has views of Lake Michigan, are nice touches

Inside, Chicago's 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.


In South Loop, overlooking Michigan Ave and Grant Park

Map of Chicago's Essex Inn

Chicago's 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 five-minute drive or 15-minute walk away. 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 seven-minute drive away. The hotel 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.

  • Across the street from Grant Park
  • Five-minute drive to Chicago Cultural Center
  • Seven-minute drive to Tribune Tower
  • Seven-minute drive to the John G. Shedd Aquarium
  • Nine-minute drive to Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Nine-minute drive to Lincoln Park Zoo
  • 10-minute drive to Magnificent Mile
  • 10-minute drive to the Chicago Water Tower
  • 13-minute drive to Chinatown
  • 30-minute drive to O’Hare International Airport


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

The Deluxe Room One King Bed incorporates generic, dated decor, but floor-to-ceiling windows and a good amount of amenities make it a solid option

All the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, some with great views of Lake Michigan, Grant Park, and the Museum Campus. The decor is generic and dated, but there are some nice conveniences: mini-fridge, coffeemakers, flat-screen LCD TVs with cable channels, alarm clock radios with iPod hookups, and free Wi-Fi. Bathrooms have shower/tub combos and Caswell-Massey toiletries


Indoor rooftop pool is a family favorite

The hotel’s indoor pool, with massive windows that overlook the park and lake, is a big hit with families

Chicago's Essex Inn has a rooftop garden overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan and an enormous, heated indoor pool that is a big hit with families. The rooftop pool is in a big, airy room on the fourth floor with a view of Lake Michigan; the pool area has lots of lounge chairs and international flags hanging from the ceiling. Adjacent to the pool is a well-equipped, 1,350-square-foot fitness center with treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines, weight machines, free weights, and a sauna.

Chicago's Essex Inn runs a free shuttle to Museum Campus, North Michigan Avenue, the Art Institute, and Navy Pier. Valet parking is charged per day, with in-and-out privileges. There are five meeting/banquet rooms, plus a laundry room with supplies and coin-operated machine. A 24-hour business center has desktop computers, a printer, and a copy machine (for a fee); a fax machine is at the front desk. Wi-Fi is free throughout.

The hotel has been awarded for its waste minimization, water and energy efficiency, and other environmentally-friendly practices.

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800 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605-7101, United States


(312) 939-2800

Also Known As

  • Essex Inn

Room Types

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

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