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Embassy Suites O’Hare
I am not really a Hilton guy, I much prefer Stawrood Properties. I was speaking at a conference being held at the Embassy Suites near O’Hare. I had stayed at this property a few years ago when I had a 12 hour overnight layover at ORD – I didn’t want to deal with heading home for just a few hours.
This stay was two midweek nights. I checked in around 17h00 and was given a room on the fourth floor. Since I was on some bulk conference rate, my Gold Status didn’t get me any welcome amenity. I had to nearly beg for a couple bottles of water.
One of the elevators was out of service during our stay, which made the trek to and from your rooms very long. I asked about taking the stairs, but was told the doors were locked and I couldn’t enter the floors once I walked up. I try it – I’d have been very frustrated if I walked up four flights only to find a locked door.
My rooms was immediately across from the elevators. The glass doors to the rooms didn’t seal fully and the noise from the elevators and atrium really carried into my room.
Entering the room, you find the sitting and office area, with a TV.
Continuing on, you pass the bathroom and the closet. The bathroom was large, but dated. I always forget how annoying the low bathroom vanities are. When brushing teeth or shaving, I end up with some back pain. The toilet had almost no power and when I attempted to flush a single Kleenex, it floated, swirled and barely went down the drain…and that was just a Kleenex- I was nervous about other things that needed flushing! Gross, I know.
The sleeping area was at the very back of the room, with two full sized beds (Hilton calls these queen beds, but the measurements sure don’t add up). This area had another TV plus a chair in the corner. The corner windows provided a ton of natural light.
The bed was surprisingly comfortable, albeit very small – I was afraid I’d roll out. Luckily, I remained securely tucked in.
I wrote about my interactions with hotel maintenance immediately upon checking in, which still surprises and confuses me – no one else I spoke with had the “Clock and Peephole Check.”
The internet was fast and I didn’t find any Wi-Fi deadspots – which is surprising in hotel conference spaces. The water pressure was light and the water never got hotter than tepid, which starts to wear on you after a few days.
Despite the rooms being dated and a little loud (hallway and atrium noises) I’d likely stay again…assuming I needed a quick stay near ORD. I wouldn’t spend multiple days here though.
Have you stayed here before? Was your room loud and your water lukewarm? Where is your favorite hotel near O’Hare?
Is Hotel Status Worth Chasing?
Hotel status is an interesting animal for me. On one hand, I really dig the suite upgrades and the additional points earned for stays, but on the other, the upgrades are so infrequent, why worry about them? I’m Platinum with Starwood and Marriott (their not-so-recent merger allows for a status match between programs). I earn this status by staying 50 nights a year at SPG Properties (plus the nights/stays credited because of the co-branded credit cards). I do struggle maintaining this status because sometimes my work travel doesn’t afford me the opportunity to stay at an SPG Property.
Does Platinum Status even matter any more?
Friends have commented on how Marriott isn’t all that generous with their Platinum members – negligible upgrades being the biggest issue. What minimums do I expect from a hotel program? I expect high speed internet for at least three devices (I need my phone, tablet and laptop all connected…and if I’m traveling with anyone else, we need at least four devices connected), I would like access to a club lounge with bottles of water and some snacks and cocktails (even grocery store wine is an acceptable amenity). I don’t care about breakfast, complimentary parking, or discounts at the on-property restaurants. A room free of feathered linens and located away from the elevator is also high on my list.
In reality, I can get all my hotel needs met with a mid-tier (Gold with SPG, Marriott and Hilton) status. I get access to upgrades (that rarely materialize even with Platinum status), I get free internet and I get access to the club lounges. I get this status without running on the Hotel Stay/Night hamster wheel.
The American Express Platinum card offers Gold Status with both Hilton and Starwood. United offers Gold Status at Marriott for flyers who maintain Gold or higher status with MileagePlus. I’ve got all the major programs covered, why should I push for Platinum Status? Should I just find the best rate at the best hotel and use whatever savings I’m getting to pay for a nicer room when I really need it.
Since the Marriott and SPG loyalty programs will likely be combining in 2019 and I have confidence that it will look more like Marriott Rewards than SPG, I’m changing my hotel strategy – Find a hotel with a good rating, great rate, close to everywhere I want/need to be and call it good. I hope it feels freeing that I don’t feel obligated to stay at a property I’m just not digging because I need the Stay/Night credit (I’m looking at you, Westin Arlington, VA).
What is your hotel strategy for 2018 and beyond? If you are a Marriott fan, tell me how your luck has been with your upgrades and elite recognition.
Hilton HHonors – Free Points
You don’t see me write much about the Hilton HHonors Program. I don’t stay at Hilton Properties much – as frequent readers know, I’m a Starwood-guy and I don’t have enough hotel stays in a year to keep status at two chains. I do have Gold Status with Hilton through the Citibank Reserve Hilton HHonors card – for the annual fee of $95 you get Gold Status, which to me is worth it for the minimal perks you get
- 25% Additional Points when staying at a Hilton property
- Bonus Points at check-in (amount of points depend on the type of property)
- Complimentary Breakfast (unless you choose the points above)
- Room Upgrades, if available (and subject to availability – but I will say that I’m very fortunate when it comes to this perk, I get upgraded about 4 out of 5 times when I stay)
Anyway, the purpose of this post is simple – in the past Hilton allowed you to sign into your account with a 4-digit PIN, which isn’t all that secure. They now are making you set up a modern password to access their system and if you do so before April 22, 2015 (next Wednesday), they’ll give you 1,000 points. Now 1,000 points will Hilton won’t get you anything, but it will show as activity in you HHonors account and will reset the time before your miles expire.
These points can help you stay at a beautiful Hilton Property like the Waldorf Astoria when you come visit Chicago.
Head on over to the HHonors site and update your password today. Why waste an opportunity to keep your account active?