Hotel Reviews: The W in Chicago, Illinois

January 2011

If you have the opportunity to visit Chicago, do it. Even at the start of a cold January, the city was great. I’m a warm weather kind of guy, so I need to visit in the summer, as well, but from the food to the sights to the history of the city, I was impressed with all it had to offer. If you’re looking for a good burger, try Kuma’s Corner. Another good restaurant is the Weber Grill Restaurant (little known fact: Weber brand grills began in Chicago). If you’re looking for a great tour, try Chicago Trolley Company. They offer a 15 stop tour on a double decker bus all around Chicago. Ask for Lance Romance to be your tour guide, he’s great. If you’re looking for a great view of the city, try the Sky Deck in the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). You won’t be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a pleasant hotel, I would not recommend the W on Lake Shore Drive, near the Navy Pier.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon to begin a four day work trip in Chicago. After unpacking my gear, I was ready for a short siesta. I went to close the drapes and learned there are none. Only transparent shades that block maybe half the light coming in. There’s no way to make the room completely dark. Overlooking that and still attempting to rest a bit, I climbed in the king size bed and it was comfortable for the most part. I like having a lot of pillows and the bed offered me plenty. Unfortunately, I found a few strands of hair on the bed. I chalked it up as the maid’s and I overlooked that, too. What I couldn’t overlook, or more specifically, overhear was the sound of construction across the street. To me, there’s nothing worse than the shrill clang of hammers hammering, large drills drilling, and big trucks backing up when I’m trying to sleep. Beep beep beep… and on it went. I’ll give the W the benefit of the doubt, since it was out of their control.

After my short nap, it was time to get ready for the events of the evening. What does that mean? A visit to the shower fairy. My room offered a walk-in shower (no door) and a rain-style shower head. While I like the idea of warm water falling all around me, this shower was not that. If warm rain was a great dane, this was a min pin. The water fell in an eight inch radius and the best way I can describe it is this: if your right side was warm, your left side wasn’t. If you’re front was warm, you’re backside wasn’t. It was impossible for your whole body to be comfortable all at the same time because there wasn’t enough water to make it happen. And if you’re like me, I wash my hair and face with a cooler temperature than I wash my body, but with the water coming straight down from above, I either had to duck my head out or keep the water on a cooler temp. Neither idea was enjoyable. There was no bathtub. Free internet was not offered in the rooms, however it was offered in the hotel lobby.

To be fair, there were some attractive things about my stay in the W. My room offered an mp3 plugin to play my iPod through the room stereo, which helped drowned out the sound of construction. They had a complimentary robe for me to get comfortable in, which I did. While showering took some effort, the water was pleasantly hot. And they offer a complimentary service called “Whatever/Whenever.” This service included free rides provided by Acura to anywhere within 5 miles of the hotel. “Whatever/Whenever” also included free movie rentals (using the in-room dvd player). The hotel also extended a free printer service for all your document printing needs.

Good:
mp3 plugin
robe
walk-in shower
“Whatever/Whenever” service
hot water
free printing

Bad:
construction noise
walk-in shower, no door
rain water shower head
free internet only in lobby
no bathtub
no window shades

To sum up, if all you’re looking for is a large bed to sleep in, the W should be just fine. However, if you’re looking for an escape, a place to relax and forget the troubles of “the real world,” the W is not the hotel for you. Too many little frustrations that won’t sit well with you. Thanks for reading and let me know if you agree/disagree or have a different experience at this hotel in Chicago.

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Droid is the New Apple

It used to be that if you had an Apple product, you were in a select group on the outskirts of mainstream. With a firy passion, you bucked the idea of following the leader. You colored outside the lines. An Excel spreadsheet was for your dad and his friends. It’s no doubt that Apple’s introduced revolutionary products into the world, things like the iPod and the iPhone that are the benchmark of mobile connectivity. But just as Land Rover is produced for the masses and no longer for the fringes of offroad enthusiasts (don’t even get me started on that!), having an iPhone is like having a Facebook page. You have one, your teachers have one, your dad and his friends have one. No longer are you on the fringes. You are mainstream. And now you are not cool.

This is not a punch in the face, but yes Steve Jobs, you’ve just been Droided.