Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Snoozing at the Hard Rock Hotel #Chicago @HardRockChicago #Travel

I've been meaning to mention my stay at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago for a while now, a long while. My stay there was packed in between a long series of events-- been meaning to tell you about some of those for a while now too-- and between all that and everyday craziness, I just never got to it. Well, today is the day. 

The one crappy shot of the outside of this beautiful building I remembered to take before leaving.

My stay took place towards the end of summer, all kinds of crazy things were happening-- conferences, events, trees falling on houses, family stuff etc.  I didn't choose the Hard Rock though, someone did that for me and put me up for the weekend (not at all related to the hotel). It turned out to be an excellent stay and left me wishing I had more time to enjoy it, because I really only ran in and out and then thoroughly crashed in my bed at night. 

If you aren't familiar with Chicago or the Hard Rock Hotel, its located in my favorite part of the city right between Millennium Park and the shopping strip known as the Mag Mile. It's here you'll find the greatest concentration of confuzzled tourists and the suits that love to scowl at them.  Call me evil, but I love watching these super brief encounters play out. 

The best part though, is that the Hard Rock Hotel is located in the Carbide and Carbon building which is my favorite Art Deco building in Chicago & the world. Art Deco also happens to be my favorite type of architecture making this place my Fave building! I love everything about it from the black granite to the gold leafing to the reliefs and even the green terra cotta. So beautiful. 

But back to my stay. I was there two nights, over the weekend, busy and out of the room both days, all day. Check in was as smooth as could be. Two things that I did miss at checkout. First was an internet code, the company that was taking care of my stay provided wifi with the room. As a result I was not able to log in right away when I got to my room, but had to call down after unpacking, and then realizing I couldn't use the internet and not finding a code of any sort scribbled down on the little key card holder thingy they give you.  When I did get back to my room that evening the code worked fine and internet was fast (yay!), of course by then I didn't need to rely on the free Wi-Fi because I had my own hotspot set up. 

The second non issue was keys. I made the reservation for two, because someone was supposed to join me. Because of a last minute accident, I knew I was going to be solo, but at the desk I still requested two keys when asked (a safety thing I always do when traveling solo, because no one else at that desk or in the lobby needs to know that I am alone). They only gave me the one key, which was a non-issue because no one else knew that, and I really didn't need it. Had I been there with a second guest though, I would have had to go back down for a 2nd key since my guest and I would have been separate for the majority of the stay.   
Home and office away from home!

I stayed in the standard room, for up to two guests, called the Deluxe King. Plenty of room and since one of my biggest pet peeves about hotel rooms is the one at a time, nose to tail thing you have to do when entering them, I wanted to give someone a sticker for all the door space. :) I was so excited by this that later that night I lined up my bag and things in the room just so I could take a picture and show everyone how much I liked it. 
Loved the spacious bathroom too, but I was kinda freaked out about the above the toilet portraits. They weren't exactly above the toilet, but off to the side and looking right at you when you come in. I couldn't help but look up at them while I was um, taking care of business. 
What I was really looking forward to was kicking back in the room at the end of the night and just enjoying myself. The first night I spent out, dinner and drinks, and I knew I had an early morning so I planned for a good night's rest. I think I got that, even though I was only halfway in bed, fully dressed, lol. Seriously, I came into my room, dropped my bag on the floor and dropped backwards into the bed. Took a few breaths while staring up at the ceiling and next thing I knew sunlight was hitting my eyes. My phone was still in my hand and I had less than a half hour to be where I had to be-- CRAP!

It was at this point that I developed an appreciation for all those little toiletries hotels put out that I never even bothered looking at before. I jumped in and out of the shower, grabbing at the well placed toiletries because I never even had a chance to unpack. I'm super picky about what I use in my hair, but I loved the way my hair felt that day. Spent that whole day out of my room again, and didn't get back till past midnight. If you get late night munchies, like I did, and nothing in the room is appetizing, there is a Walgreens directly across from the hotel (though it closes early) and a 24 hour CVS right across the street. Just south of the hotel are several fast food restaurants too-- I tried out the Noodles and Company.  

Definitely did a much better job getting myself into bed, and since I had to be up early again I appreciated the firm, but still comfy mattress. The last portion of my stay was checkout, pain-free. And even though this is really going to date my stay, and the extremely long passage of time it took to get this up, I gotta mention it. I asked the concierge what bus would get me to the train station, I only had the one small bag, time to kill and was feeling a little bit nostalgic about public trans. He looked it up and sent me off, only many of the buses kept turning and when I finally paid attention to the buses that were stopping I noticed they posted alternate route alerts. Hmm, downloaded the CTAs tracker thing and the bus I was supposed to catch said 2 minutes, then refreshed to 20, and then the next bus that was 5 minutes out also refreshed to 30. Look closer, something the concierge didn't do, and there was an alert on account of the Rock n Roll Marathon going on that morning. Ended up catching my train with a minute to spare and super glad I wore slacks instead of the dress. 

All of that said, I would totally recommend Chicago's Hard Rock Hotel if you are visiting the city. I've been trying to string together events in the city so that I have an excuse to book a night or two. Positive the chance will come up again!

Oh, I did want to mention the green initiatives the hotel has taken. I spent the entire week before this weekend holed up in another Chicago hotel just up the Mile, and while it was excellent, the group of Girl scouts from around the world I was with were very concerned about the lack of green initiatives within that hotel. Not sure if they ever got that sit down with the hotel manager that they were gunning for. Anyway, in addition to the many little things the Hard Rock Hotel does, they are partnered with, Clean the World, a global recycler of hotel soaps and ammenities. I have been following the group and its activities on FB since my stay, learning about the people that benefit from their work. Love that the hotel has all the energy saving things going on, and gives each guest the chance to do so themselves-- makes me wonder what all they do behind the scenes too.        

If you read through ALL of that, you must really want to stay at the Hard Rock Chicago :)