The Congress Plaza Hotel and Conference Center

, Chicago, United States
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The Congress Plaza Hotel and Conference Center

, Chicago
2 star

Rooms: 851

520 South Michigan Avenue - Chicago - Illinois - 60605 - United States Hotel Website | | 3124273800
554 Traveller

Reviews - The Congress Plaza Hotel and Conference Center

Historical Traveller Reviews of The Congress Plaza Hotel and Conference Center

Pleasantly Surprised! :)

from petfriendly
Apprehensive about staying here due to reading the negative reviews; but, upon arrival we were very pleasantly surprised.
Our room was on the 9th floor, very clean, well supplied with all our needs, nice use of space, view of the lake, quiet - didn't hear a thing from the other quest, & the beds provided for a good nights rest. The staff was very friendly & graceous to the three of us & we felt comfortable & safe during our three days in Chicago.
Yes, there is minimal level noise from the trains; but the system is only a block or two away - not interferring. Yes, there is a nick here & there in the wooden doorframes; but what would you expect from a building 115 years old? All of this, simply adds to the character of this beautiful building. Location is wonderful - walking distance to theatres, shopping, & eating places.
We would stay here again & suggest it to friends & family as well.

Equal Time

from lewisg
I have read a few of the reviews, and just had to add mine, as I stay at the Congress every week for work, and have since last November (2007).

I was initially drawn to this hotel (and btw, I'm sitting in the hotel as I type this) by the low price. Courtyard, and others of that ilk, run at least $50 a night higher in this area.

As a regular business traveler, I have stayed in many hotels, none as old as the Congress, and so none with as much of an excuse as the Congress. For every negative I read, I can point to a similar experience at a major chain hotel that should be delivering a better product.

The Congress is over 100 years old, and yes, the building does show its age. Some reviewers complained of construction noise, and this is due to the continuous remodelling that is going on. A one-thousand room hotel doesn't get redone overnight - and certainly not when it has such a low occupancy rate due to the very issues they are working hard to correct.

Here are the pros and cons as I see them on my 17th week here:


-old carpeting
-sometimes stale, funky smells in the hallways
-inroom coffee is about the cheapest stuff they could find
-some fixtures have issues: jiggly handrails, loose trim, dresser drawers needing repair, etc.
-surprise closings of food service (makes sense when paid staff outnumber the guests)
-Low water pressure on some floors. Irritating if you like a bath as opposed to a shower. I find that the shower sprays fine, even in low pressure.
-If they tell you your room is in the "Buckingham Wing", tell the clerk you're leaving if they don't put you in one of the towers. The BW is a small part of the hotel on the south side of the building that looks like it was added on in the 1950's. These rooms can really sour you on the Congress, but unless there's a convention going, they should be able to move you.
-Low occupancy on some weeks makes you feel like the place is abandoned. Sometimes I'd swear it's just me and two other guys in the whole place.


-Best prices in Chicago Loop area
-Great bar. The bar has a reputation apart from the hotel.
-Different room every week (I'm on week 18, and I've yet to have the same exact layout twice. Kind of nice when you have to put up with hotels all the time)
-Comfy beds. Someone upstream complained about a torn bedspread. I've seen sloppy housekeeping in the best of them.
-Friendly staff. Really. Someone complained about being ill-treated. Well, I've been working long enough to know that there are some folks that just don't quit until they've pressed every one of somebody's buttons.
-Tons of character. Rooms have 10 or 11 foot ceilings, never seen that before.
-Internet works great. It's wired instead of wireless, which in a hotel is better, I think. I've had some bad chain hotel experiences with the wireless stuff.
-The Lakeview rooms are beautiful. Nice view of Lake Michigan, worthy of snapping a few pics to impress your friends.
-Room service food is fast and excellent. Killer garlic mashed potatoes, prime rib bigger than your head (exaggerating a little here ;-), pizza is passable (It ain't Uno, but it's yummy), and the 12 oz. burger is awesome. Order the Pecan Royale for dessert.

Someone commented that business travelers should stay away, but I would say just the opposite - it's perfect for the frequent guest (I say, speaking as one). The people I would warn away would be younger people seeking some "perfect experience" like in the movies. This ain't a movie - it's a place to flop your briefcase down, have a drink, watch a little TV and go to sleep. If you want experiences, hey, it's Chicago in every direction out the front door. And say if you're an older couple on a vacation weekend, and you want to do something with it besides sit around and gripe that the plumbing is fiddly, I'd say you'd be pleased too.

I was attracted to the place initially to save the company a buck, but now I stay here because I really and truly like it here. I'll be here until mid-May, and if my company sends me back to Chicago after that, I'll come right back.


from sfrunner
I booked this hotel because I wanted to stay downtown but didn't want to pay the $200+ just for a place to sleep. I knew it wasn't going to be fancy, I knew it might be a little ghetto, but at no time did I ever feel unsafe. Sure, I could hear the family next to me arguing all night. A quick call to the front desk and they moved us to the very quiet top floor. I would definitely stay here again on my own dime. I would never stay here if work was paying :P

Very disappointed!

from Sharon610
My husband and I were married last year in Chicago and stayed at the Essex this year we wanted to stay there again but could not get a room. I had stayed at the Congress several years ago and thought it would be an ok experience. I was really wrong! The toilet didn't work right, there were no instructions for the in-room safe, the closet door didn't shut, the Gazebo restaurant was hardly open, the a/c unit didn't work right, and there were no in room visitor materials. Add to this the fact that the pop machine on our floor worked when it felt like it (AND WAS MARKED AT $1.50 AND COST $1.75 AND DID NOT TAKE QUARTERS), and housekeeping wanted to do our room at 9 am on a Sunday. What makes this worse is that we were awakened at 8 am by window cleaners tossing ropes down the building and yelling at each other! Toss in the fact that the gift shop items are waaaaayyyyy overpriced and you have a bad experience. My advice: book early, and book elsewhere! Try the Essex Inn!!

The worse Hotel experience

from fieldswonder
The photos the hotels has listed are very misleading, My room number wasn't clearly marked, they was a fire escape sign right above my room door I assumed that was the doorway to the fire escape." over looking the small room number". The room was very dated, broken head board, holes in the cieling, the desk drawer didn't open, they were close because the desk was bented, the window view was the fire escape and the drapery would't closed, I called the front desk the have someone fix this issue, I waited for a half an hour and went down stairs to speak with someone directly,
(someone from the service department told the front desk person they fixed the issuse a while ago) I insisted that no one was been to my room, 15 mins lately a service guy showed up. The vendening machine took my $1.75 for a can soda.
Later I went down stairs to the bar to whine down, after a bit I wanted to know if the hotel had a mircowave, so I was about to walk across the hall to the front desk, when I fell off the landing from the other side of the bar's entry way. This area was not clearly marked
"to step down or watch your step". To end my stay the next morning the water was barely warm.

Only if every other hotel is full

from Farnham_Flyer
I had a last minute visit to Chicago at a busy time of the year and none of my usual hotels had room.

This hotel was clearly grand - once. The rooms, whilst very spacious for Chicago, seem to have last been renovated during the 1970's.

I did have a great view over the Buckingham Fountain and the Lake and it is close to the Loop business district.

It was also very cheap - for a reason !

The negative reviews have merit

from innowner
My daughter was booked to stay at the Congress Plaza arriving on Feb. 24th for a 5 day business trip.
After reading reviews and rating on the hotel, she called me with her concerns, I told her give it a chance its just an older hotel.
Well she was right to be concerned it turned out to be dirty , dingy and in need of a total redo.
My involvement with this hotel occured when I contacted them to deliver a fruit basket to the room and a birthday cake the next day.
Not only did they give me the run around with several referrals on who would take the order, but they had me photo copy my credit card number and fax it to the front desk. It should be no surprise they didn't deliver either items and were indifferent when I called to complain .
Lucky for my daughter her company removed her from the hotel and she was booked at the Hyatt instead. People in her Chicago office were surprised that she had even be booked there in the first place.
Be warned!

worst experience ever!!

from CaliforniaWineLuvr
I've traveled across the world and have never had such a terrible experience. Upon arrival we were treated to picketing because of an ongoing strike at the hotel.This is an old hotel with a beautiful lobby but old and broken fixtures and linens in the rooms. The carpet in our room wasn't vacuumed, the bedspread had holes in it, the sheets were stained, and the furniture was old, worn, and chipped. The first morning we awoke to extremely loud construction noices overhead as several floors in the hotel were under major construction. One night we returned from dinner to find the hotel swarming with SWAT and Secret Service police hunting for a fugitive. We were told we'd have to stay in the lobby while the manhunt continued. After no luck finding the fugitive, it was very late and we finally asked if we could be escorted to our rooms since we had elderly family members and a small child who were exhausted. We were given a "guns drawn" police escort to our rooms and instructed not to leave our rooms under any circumstances! The final night we were kept up until 3am by a loud party in the next room. They had rented one of the hotel's ballrooms and got a free suite next door to us to use as a "staging area". Unfortunately, it was a lock-off room with only a small door between us that slammed every time the party next door went in and out of their room. We complained to the front desk and security about the loud partying and SMOKING in a non-smoking floor/room, and were told that they were not going to do anything about it. We were told by management that if we had a problem with it then WE could move to another room. After a confrontation with the obnoxious party-goers in the next room, they started banging on our doors at 3am so we again called the front desk and finally agreed to be moved to another room. I guess our 3 hotel rooms over several nights didn't bring the hotel as much money as the ballroom rental, so we were less important.

Horrible experience

from Maggiemoo3
The condition that the Congress Plaza is in is completely unacceptable. First of all I paid the same price to stay at the Hyatt Regency which is 50 times nicer than this hotel. The hotel room was in such bad condition that we had to leave. First of all when we pulled up to the hotel there were many picketers who would antagonize you for crossing the picket line. Then they gave us an article from the Chicago Tribune about the strike, which noted there has been over a thousand violations including plumbing problems, roaches, and even rats. At first I just looked past this, due to the fact of being on strike. Boy was I wrong IF YOU BOOKED THIS HOTEL CANCEL BEFORE YOU CHECK IN! Due to the fact that they are on strike, basically everything is closed. Every amenity that is listed on their website is false. There were numerous beer cans around the hotel. In the elevator we took to get up to our room there was a Pepsi can, snickers bar wrapper, and it smelled like mold and cigarettes. When we walked down the hall to our room it was very dark. Every other light was out which made it difficult to find our room. Even after this we still thought we would give it a chance. In our room we find a full ash tray of cigarettes in the bathroom, food wrappers behind the end table, and a bathroom that was appalling. The floor was a yellowish color that was in random places, and then it was peeling off. Around the toilet it was all wet. The room was in horrible condition, I don’t anyone would want to stay here. I was so disappointed. My fiancé and I have been looking forward to this weekend. One of the reasons we picked this hotel was because it was close to the Hilton, which was where the Cubs Convention was. We ended up staying at the Hyatt, which was a very nice hotel, and it was only $10 more a night. Everything smelled and was dirty. I would never reccomend this hotel to anyone, and if you are thinking of staying here DONT!

Stay away

from dalymount
Stayed here for two nights in early Jan. Shame to see such a historic property fall into such a terrible state. Dirty carpets and cheap furniture in the rooms. Really uncomfortable bed.
Also under a union strike for the last four years. Thanks for informing me orbitz! Stay away!

Top Local Tips for Chicago

Grey Line Tours Make the time to take a tour of the city...Grey Line is a great way to go!

Secured parking garage! Right behind the hotel is a secured parking garage that has a security guard 24/7. Don't forget to get your ticket stamped at check in to get the discounted rate ($27/day) and use that public transportation. There are buses and taxis galore and an L station just a block behind the hotel!

museums Musems close earlier than we thought and open later than we thought. Make your plans for these from 10am-430pm


Other names for The Congress Plaza Hotel and Conference Center

  • hotel congress plaza
  • congress plaza hotel chicago
  • congress plaza hotel
  • congress plaza chicago
  • congress hotel chicago
  • Address: 520 South Michigan Avenue - Chicago - Illinois - 60605 - United States
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