View All Hotels in South Loop

The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center 3.0

South Loop, Chicago, Illinois

Enter Dates for Best Prices

Review Summary

Photos and Review by



  • Some rooms have old, worn furnishings 
  • Basic rooms with no climate control  
  • Restaurant and bar have seasonal hours 
  • Fee for valet and self-parking 
  • Mini-fridges available for a fee

Bottom Line

The mid-range Congress Plaza Hotel across from Grant Park is equal parts historic beauty, and dated old dive. Its public spaces and ballrooms recall an elegant past, but the facilities are few and amenities are surprisingly basic. Some of the 851 rooms have an antique-style decor that's more worn out than old world, while others have gotten superficial modern makeovers, but all have dated bathrooms and lack individual temperature controls. Budget-minded business travelers will find it to be a much cheaper alternative to the neighboring, more upscale Hilton Chicago, but it's also worth considering the nearby Chicago's Essex Inn, which adds an indoor pool. 

Flights for this trip with

Oyster Hotel Photos

View All 9 Albums

Oyster Hotel Review


Business-friendly historic hotel on a budget

This historic hotel is constantly undergoing renovation to its common areas, such as the lobby, which is covered in wall-to-wall marble and has sparkling chandeliers

Built in 1893 to accommodate the visitors of the World’s Columbian Exposition, the Congress Plaza Hotel has had a glorious past, and hosted presidents and several other notable politicians. Famous political speeches have echoed in its elegant halls; Democratic 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. 

The hotel has been living to some extent on its past reputation. While parts of the huge property were renovated in 2007, and there were room updates in 2016, some elements throughout remain either dated or worn out, such as the halls on room floors, with dark carpets and drop-ceilings. But renovations are ongoing, and most of the public areas and event spaces still impress; the lobby is covered in wall-to-wall marble, with ornate blind arches and sparkling chandeliers.

The Congress's business suffered in part due a decade-long strike of its cleaning and maintenance workers that ended in 2013. During the strike, the hotel sued the union representing the workers for dissuading prominent guests from staying at the hotel -- one alleged stunt involved sending manure to The National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, before they hosted a conference at the hotel, The Chicago Tribune reported.


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

Map of The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center

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. Numerous cultural attractions like Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum Campus, home to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History are within walking distance, but the vibrant Loop neighborhood and the Magnificent Mile are farther north (expect at least a 10-minute drive, traffic depending). O’Hare International Airport is about a 40-minute drive away.


Mix of old and updated rooms, all with coffeemakers

The Lake View Double sports a more modern style than non-renovated room, with all-white furnishings

The hotel's 851 rooms and suites are being renovated, but many still have a dated old-world style, with wood bed frames, gold bed throws, and cream patterned wallpaper. Garish curtains, stained carpets, and thoroughly worn out furniture are the norm. Updated rooms ditch the old world look for a modern white palette, consisting of white vanities and tables for two with gray chairs, on top of purple carpets. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, small 32-inch flat-screen TVs, and coffeemakers. Mini-fridges are available for an extra fee and rooms lack individual climate controls. The bathrooms have average shower/tub combos, though some suites get jetted tubs (as well as separate living rooms). Most rooms have city views, but upgraded rooms and suites have views of the lakefront.


Vast elegant event spaces, two restaurants, lounge bar, 24-hour fitness and business centers

Historic meeting and event spaces, such as the elegant Gold Room, are the hotel’s primary feature

The hotel's main draw are its historic meeting and event spaces, totaling over 50,000 square feet, including an elegant 8,300-square-foot ballroom that can accommodate 2,000 people. There are also a 24-hour business center and a 24-hour fitness center, though it's equipped with old cardio machines. For dining, Gazebo is a casual American restaurant open daily for breakfast (not included), while Rafael’s takes over for lunch and dinner, serving American standards. The Congress Lounge has a pool table, beers, cocktails, and wine, along with a short menu of  comfort food like chicken tenders and quesadillas. There's also a sidewalk patio with outdoor seating. Valet and self-parking are available for a fee. 

Customers Who Viewed The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center Also Viewed

Things You Should Know About The Congress Plaza Hotel and Convention Center


520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605-1602, United States


(312) 427-3800

Also Known As

  • Congress Plaza Hotel

Room Types

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

Like Us on Facebook And Have the Best Vacation Ever