In Chicago, a hotel on the stretch of Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile better be able to impress on a variety of levels.
The Hotel Intercontinental Michigan Avenue ( 505 N. Michigan Ave.; ICChicagoHotel.com ) even has a website that reads "An Exclusive Downtown Chicago Address." While that's true, does the hotel really deliverand should someone come on over when on vacation or even a staycation? Windy City Times took a closer look during a recent overnight stay.
The room: The Hotel Intercontinental ( which consists of the Grand and Executive towers ) offers a variety of accommodations, from standard units to the two-story Presidential Suite. I was ensconced in a suite in the Executive Tower ( starting at $249/night )and was impressed, overall. ( By the way, the check-in went extremely smoothly, with very friendly individuals. )
The room includes a bedroom area and separate living room, along with two televisions, refrigeratorsand restrooms. The designs are very contemporary, crisp and clean. And the spacious bed actually provided me the best night of sleep I've had in some timehelped, no doubt, by the food coma I was in after dining at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse ( more on that later ).
There were a few quibbles. The views out of the windows were spectacularand would've been moreso if the windows weren't really dirty. While watching two separate channels, including the Food Network, the television inexplicably went blankand redirected me to CNN repeatedly. And the personal areas in the refrigerators can barely accommodate more than an idea ( and you're charged for removing an item if it's gone longer than 30 seconds, so watch out if you have kids or if you're forgetful ). However, like I stated, these are minor: No stay is perfect and, regarding the room, the Intercontinental delivered.
The restaurant: During my stay, this was probably the most impressive part. I'd previously dined in Michael Jordan's Steakhouse, but I'd forgotten how tasty some of the dishes are. The garlic bread with melted blue cheese are enough to make anyone forsake a diet, and the ribeye was cooked perfectly. Of course, no visit is complete without the 23-layer chocolate cake ( which is, of course, named after the number Jordan wore when he played ).
It also helps to have attentive service, and our server, Nick, was just divine. He constantly flitted to our table while balancing several othersand it seemed that Nick ( who informed us he's a part-time massage therapist during a chat ) was similarly attentive to the others.
( An aside: Knowing that this was a media visit, my guest and I were allowed to sit at Table 23, where Jordan dines when he's in town. The view is fantastic, and all eyes are on you at that spot. However, mere mortals can reserve the tablefor $300 for two people. )
The hotel also contains ENO Wine Bar, which I've also been fortunate enough to patronize. Wine, chocolate and cheesewho could ask for anything more?
The workout facility: After that dinner, a morning workout was certainly in order, so I headed to the hotel's exercise facility shortly after 6 a.m., when it opens. Already, there were several people on the cardiovascular machines.
I also took a turn with the workout machines and free weights in the space a floor above the cardiovascular room. The machines were just as good as the ones at the gym I belong to and were not too complex to use. ( Some of the machines at other gyms I've gone to have been the equivalent of Rubik's cubes. )
Then, there's the heated Olympic-sized pool. I didn't try it, but it's been getting raves for yearsand it looks fantastic after a recent renovation.
Incidentally, there's a full-service spa at the health club as well. Some of the services include sugar honey polish and customized massage, aromatherapy and deep-tissue massage.
The upshot: The LGBT-friendly Hotel Intercontinental Michigan Avenue ( complete with rainbow flag at the front of the building ) is worth your timeand money. From the moment you check in, you'll experience elegant surroundings ( including stately ballrooms ), multiple amenities and an eager-to-please staff.
Life could be a lot worse, trust me.