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Every major city in the world has a downtown party for New Year’s Eve. For 2016, we heard that Chicago was doing its first New Years Eve celebration dubbed Chi-Town Rising. This event wants to differentiate itself from the countless “ball drops” that occur around the world. Their concept was to have a star rising, hence, the name. We live 1.5 hours away from Chicago so we decided to greet the new year there.
You might also want to read our post on the best free things to do in Chicago.
There were several hotels participating in the event. The main hotel where they did the “Rising Star” part was Hyatt Regency Chicago’s West Tower. We wanted to watch the event but not be stuck with crowds since we have our son with us. We looked at other partner hotels near the river area and chose to stay at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile which was around a 5 minute walk to the venue.
I needed to book a room or two for 6 adults, 1 child. I was able to get us a 2 standard double rooms in the Grand Tower.
Intercontinental has an easy to use website and app to book your rooms. However, after price comparisons, I can get the same room for cheaper through my employer’s discount portal. I didn’t get points for my IHG Rewards Club. You need to book directly with the hotel to earn points.
Alternatively, you can also book InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile from Hotels.com where nightly rates can go as low as $160/night.
Being in the Magnificent Mile, you would think it would be challenging to park in front of the Intercontinental. As soon as we pulled up, the bell staff were right there to assist with our luggage. This same amount of attentiveness were apparent the other times we entered the hotel. A staff member was always present by the doors to welcome us back.
Valet is available to help park your car for $67/day with in and out privileges. We opted to do this because it’s the same rate with the parking garages in the area.
As we walked in, we were greeted by a beautifully decorated lobby for the holidays. There’s a huge lit Christmas tree in the middle of the foyer. It was being hugged by the hotel’s grand staircase. To the left is a Starbucks cafe while if you look to the right, you’d see the door into Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse.
Behind the beautiful tree were the check-in counters against a TV wall backdrop projecting the streets outside. I thought it was pretty cool. I can see our rental car and the staff getting our luggage.
It was a pretty quick process. They were able to accommodate our request for adjoining rooms. We checked in just at the right time. Loads of people came in after we received our room cards and complimentary Starbucks vouchers for Grande drinks. Looks like a lot of people are looking forward to participate in the event.
The concierge counter is nearby to the left of the reception desks.
We took the elevator to the 24th floor. There were 4 elevators available and all are spacious enough to fit our party even with a stroller.
We weaved through the decorated hallways, albeit carpeted, was a breeze to push and pull strollers and suitcases towards Room 2446. The carpets look like it’s decaying with algae but it marries the look of historical and contemporary. The wallpapered walls have black and white art and photography of the city of Chicago on them.
The room came with a mini bar stocked with your Starbucks branded tea and coffee. A small refrigerator sits under it with little to no space to put anything in it even a milk bottle. Definitely won’t fit your doggy bags. We just used the ice bucket to store our son’s milk bottle. It does, however, contain non-complimentary drinks that will automatically charge your room if you take them.
On the room desk was a weighted snack tray. Boy, was it a challenge to keep our son from grabbing the cans of Pringles or bags of chips from it!
There’s a small safe in the closet. Two (2) Double beds for each room and a flat screen TV.
Our bathroom has a shower/bathtub and 1 sink with lots of counter space for your vanity things. The toiletries smell so good I had to take some home with me.
This historic hotel is a destination by itself. My family and I enjoyed
loitering strolling inside the hotel while we waited for the countdown event by the river.
We found ourselves in the Hall of Lions where marble walls adorn. It’s hard to imagine that this used to be covered in paint and the restorers revealed this magnificence underneath. The lion emblems that were found during the restoration has then been used throughout the hotel. To learn more about the history of the InterContinental Chicago, click here.
After touring the city, we decided to take a swim at the I-Club tri-level spa and fitness center. I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have a kid-friendly waddling pool for the tots. There are also no kid floaties available except for pool noodles that are more suited for older kids. However, there are a lot of seating area where you can just chill and admire the extravagant Gatsby era style architecture. That’s what I did with my son as my sister Yza and cousin Angelone take a dip in the junior Olympic sized indoor swimming pool, which is the oldest swimming pool in Chicago built in 1929.
There’s three (3) treatment rooms and a sauna where you can revitalize and refresh yourself before or after a long day of exploring the city. The spa offers reflexology and aromatherapy treatments that will sure end your stress away. The gym has fitness coaches and you can sign up for memberships and classes for as long as three (3), six (6) or twelve (12) months as well as daily passes to Intercontinental’s fitness center.
Bear in mind that to get to this part of the hotel, you have to endure stairs. There’s an elevator to get to the 14th floor with some walking involved from our tower. It’s not very accessible if you’re bringing along a stroller or, in my case, a 70-year old grandmother. No ramp or elevator.
Typically, I don’t dine in hotel restaurants because they are mostly overpriced for the quality of food that you get. However, with InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, there are plenty of options to choose from. I almost tried them especially Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse. The temptation was there. I can smell the tasty steak every time I was in the lobby where the main entrance is. The atmosphere of the restaurant also looks posh. I didn’t go though because we dined in a nearby restaurant called Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen. Maybe next time we check-in the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, we’ll try Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse.
The Center Court has a grand buffet for $25 during brunch hours if you want something available on site. Otherwise, with its price and if you’re not a buffet aficionado, you have plenty of other restaurants to choose from.
If caffeine is your go-to day starter, you’d be happy to know that there is a full service Starbucks in the lobby. They will have your favorite java or tea. They did give us vouchers to get some Grande drinks. I grabbed some Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers while my sister drank some Strawberry Acai Refreshers. We love our berries!
There is also a wine bar called Eno that feels like an intimate wine cellar. Wine racks enclosed in glass surround you on its walls as you sample wine, chocolate, and cheese from different countries.
You also have the availability of diverse restaurant options nearby. You can book your dining in advance with the All Set app. Use our code: CVHC96 on your order to get $10 off your first order!
We decided to extend our stay by a couple of days to explore more of Chicago using CityPASS. CityPASS gave us VIP admission tickets to the most iconic attractions in the city packaged into one convenient booklet at a big discount. CityPASS is valid for 9 consecutive days starting with the first day of use so we were able to see almost most of the major attractions in the Windy City. Click here to get your CityPASS booklet.
Adding days was as easy as a simple phone call from our room to the front desk. They charged me the prevailing rate which wasn’t too bad.
Once we are ready to go home, we headed to the reception desk and settled our accounts. We notified valet and bell hop that we are ready to go. Bellhop arrived promptly. There was a bit of a wait in the valet garage. You can call ahead anytime for the valet service to ready your car. As a guest, you have in and out privileges with their garage.
Outside of the issues we experienced with accessibility and child friendly features from its pool, the InterContinental Chicago in Magnificent Mile is a great place to stay in the Windy City. It may not be the most child-friendly hotel but it is a nice luxurious place you can rest with your family after a day exploring the city. It is very proximate to shopping, dining and cultural hot spots. If location is prime to you, this is one of the best hotels you can stay in.