Posted by Ric Garrido

The best hotel deal this past week was my stay at the historic Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Typically, I think of 100-year-old hotels having miniscule rooms where your luggage may have to sleep on the bed with you. Not the case at The Blackstone, a Renaissance brand hotel, where the room I stayed was a spacious 500 sq. ft. Executive Deluxe room with a comfortable layout and modern conveniences.

Renaissance Blackstone was $290 after tax when I booked on Marriott.com. I selected this hotel for Chicago after seeing a high probability for a successful Look No Further best rate guarantee claim based on a competing online travel agency $138 rate at easyclicktravel.com.  Marriott reduced the $138 competing rate by 25% and my $290 hotel room rate at The Blackstone dropped to $120.79 after tax.

 

The Blackstone sign

The Blackstone, a Chicago hotel with history 

Chicago Landmark

Chicago has three prominent historic luxury hotels in The Palmer House (1871-73), The Blackstone (1910) and The Drake (1920). Palmer House and The Drake are Hilton brand hotels.

Blackstone chirh_phototour07

View of Blackstone Beaux-Arts architecture (photo credit: Blackstone Hotel).

The Blackstone is a Marriott Renaissance brand hotel. Both the Blackstone and The Drake were hotels owned by Tracy and John Drake.

The Blackstone

The Blackstone is right of the street lamp on South Michigan Avenue. The large building complex directly behind the street lamp is Hilton Chicago, the largest hotel in the world at 3,000 rooms when it opened as The Stevens in 1927. Conrad Hilton purchased The Stevens in 1945. Hilton Chicago now has more than 1,500 rooms. In the 1980s, the Hilton hotel was remodeled and many of the older rooms were doubled in size.

The Blackstone has 332 rooms and Michigan Avenue facing rooms on the upper floors have great views of lake Michigan.

elevator dial

The Blackstone is a Beaux-Arts style hotel named after Timothy Blackstone, President of Central Illinois Railroad, who once had a mansion on the site where the hotel is located.

Blackstone B

Elevator floor tile with large B.

From the moment I arrived, I felt the hotel environment was special. The doorman greeted me and carried my luggage up the stairs through the revolving door. Check-in was smooth.

First thing that caught my eye in the lobby reminded me of the playful Aloft hotels, except with a classic formal lobby way-back time twist.

lobby

The Blackstone pool table and fireplace in the lobby.

The historic hotel was purchased by Sage Hospitality in 1999 and underwent a $128 million renovation. Today, The Blackstone is one of Chicago’s prominent hotels with a good location for McCormick Place convention center and easy walking distance across Grant Park to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears stadium.

lobby view

The second floor stairway looking into the lobby.

I stayed on the 11th floor of the 23-floor hotel. My room faced the Hilton Chicago across Balbo Avenue from the front entrance of The Blackstone hotel. Looking east from my room window revealed a view of Adler Planetarium and Lake Michigan beyond Grant Park.

Room-1

Executive Deluxe room.

room-2

The bathroom featured a large open marble-tile shower stall.

shower

The wallpaper in the bathroom is somewhat psychedelic in black and white.

Bathroom psychedelic

There was only one chair in the room, which was fine since I was a solo traveler.

Blackstone room chair

The large circular mirror is a room piece I adore.

I would request a second chair if I were staying with my wife. The room had space.

room corner

I walked from the fitness center 6th floor down the stairway and found each floor with something interesting to view.

Grand Ballroom

Grand Ballroom at The Blackstone.

The Blackstone Chicago is a Marriott Rewards category 7 hotel at 35,000 points per night.

6 Responses

  1. I have been wanting to take a quick weekend getaway to stay here. Sounds like you got an incredible deal!

  2. Great Gatsby-esque

  3. After spending over 300+ nights staying here weekly for roughly 2 years during 2009-2011 and it still remains one of my top 3 hotels worldwide due to the mix of amenities, location and price.

    A couple big items I would also highlight are:
    1.)The architecture/ambiance cant be highlighted enough. You can really feel the history of property without feeling the age in the rooms (ahem *Palmer*). The Beatles, Capone, multiple presidents, The Untouchables “batter up” scene (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHH9EYZHoVU), and the list goes on.

    2.) While not especially large, the gym cant be missed. Nicely stocked for the traveler. Something about running with a view of Grant Park

    3.)Lounge/Elite floors are truly a step up. The rooms on the elite floors (floors 18+) might not be worth the upcharge if you aren’t Marriott Elite, but certainly have some nice touches. TVs in the mirror, luxury chairs, and more. The lounge was well stocked for breakfast/appetizers, but a little tight in space. Great views of the Chicago skyline.

    4.) Location is premium. A fair walk to most of Michigan Avenue activities, but not bad. You won’t get caught in the tourist stampede though, so its a good trade off. The views are great depending on the event: Lollapoluza, Navy pier, Soldier field. Just make sure to request the right room number.

    INSIDER TIP:
    Request any XX18 or XX22 series rooms on floors 18 or higher. These give you 2 windows with great views of Grant park. You want to avoid rooms on the other side of the hotel with the noise from the “L” (~1/4 mile).

  4. @JT – Thanks for the insider tips. I made it up to the lounge floor after posting this piece. I will write another post at some point to show the fitness room and lounge and art floor.

  5. @Ric – Awesome. Looking forward to the review of the lounge and gym.

    I’m a little disappointed in the front desk that they didn’t upgrade you to the elite floors, but at that rate I guess I can’t blame them.

    BTW, great tip with the easyclicktravel.com rate. I think it might be time for me to return with rates that low!

  6. @JT – they were operating a near full house during my stay. One of the IPW host hotels was Chicago Hilton across the street, so free shuttle service available to McCormick Convention Center.

    Comment by Ric Garrido on April 16th, 2014 at 7:20 am

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