IL Chicago Palmer House Hilton

By gleemonex,

Recommended Posts

dates of stay: (first part) april 19-22, 2004, (second part) may 2-4, 2004

i approached my stay at the palmer house hilton with a bit of apprehension, having read the stories of incredibly small rooms that are given to priceline guests. well, let me confirm that this is indeed true. the room i was given during the first part of my stay was tiny alright. there was barely enough room for me to pass between the bed and the armoire/tv to get to the bathroom (which was also a bit small). the walls were on the thin side; i found myself listening in on someone's telephone conversation in an adjacent room, and you will definitely hear hallway chatter. the room showed some definite signs of age also, with the carpet looking a bit haggard. still, the room was clean and comfortable.

room amenities: neutrogena products in the bathroom, large-ish color tv with cable in the armoire, mini-bar, digital clock radio/alarm.

the check-in was handled in a professional and courteous manner, with the clerk mentioning that the room had been "guaranteed for a three night stay", no attempt at upselling an upgrade.

room grade for first part of stay: 2 stars.

the second part of the stay was a little bit more comfy. at check-in, i tactfully asked whether there might be a larger room available, explaining that the room i'd had last time was very small. the very polite clerk did some checking and found me a much larger room with a king size bed. excellent! much nicer room and so much more comfortable.

room grade for second part of stay: 3 stars.

the real star of the palmer house hilton is the spectacular lobby, which is truly awe inspiring. this is a historic hotel (open since 1871 -- the oldest continually operating hotel in the US? -- in it's current form since the 1920s) with a great location at State & Monroe streets in the Loop. nearby attractions: grant park/buckingham fountain, art institute of chicago, chicago cultural center, state street shopping, theater district. it's also conveniently close to the "el", chicago's public transit elevated (and subway) train lines.

in all, a very pleasant stay.

Link to comment
  • 1 year later...

My wife and I stayed at the Palmer House this past weekend (Friday through Sunday nights, $79 a night). The good news: the lobby is very impressive. The location is excellent; walking distance to all sorts of stuff, and just around the corner from the L station. The room was small, but we've had much smaller rooms (such as the Hudson in NYC). The walls were a little thin but noise really was not a problem.

The bad news: the bed, a single double bed for the two of us. This was really bad news as I'm 6'4" 220 and my wife is 5'9". We were shocked when we walked in the room and saw the bed size, and pretty miserable when it came time to sleep. While we've encountered rooms with only a double bed in Europe before, we had never experienced this in the US. We called the front desk and asked for other options (a king, a queen, or two doubles?) but were told because this was a Priceline room, there was nothing they could do. They did not offer us an upgrade for additional $$$ (which we would have been more than willing to pay). After two nights of horrible sleep in the double, they finally offered us a bigger bed.

I understand that booking through Priceline means no guarantee re the rooms, but had always assumed, mistakenly, this meant the hotel would decide whether we received a king, a queen, or two doubles. Is a single double a common 4th option? Has anyone else been stuck with a single double for two people?

I'm very curious to hear others' experiences in this regard. If this is a common occurrence, it will probably be the end of our using Priceline. While I will continue to use it when I'm traveling solo for business, we are too big to be sharing a double bed.

One other note. I definitely felt "Pricelined" this weekend. For what it is worth, both times I have received attitude re Priceline has been at Hiltons. Probably just a coincidence, but . . .

Link to comment

I stayed at the Palmer House a few years ago for a trade show, location can't be beat, and it's a block away from the subway/train/elevated that goes all the way out to O'Hare and the cheapest ride to the airport. I was by myself and thought the room was really small for one, let alone two. Had to walk sideways to get between the bed and the desk. You didn't mention if you were a Hilton HHonors member, this might have helped to get a better room. Priceline only guarantees you a room that will sleep two, even though in your case, the room was over a hundred years old when the average male was probably 5'8" and 150 lbs..... :) Using priceline, my room request (two doubles, non-smoking) is usually granted, and I am a member of just about every hotel "affinity" program.

Link to comment
  • 10 months later...

Dates of stay: 6/16 thru 6/19, booked thru Priceline @ $88 per night

I was a little apprehensive about the room type and size having read a number of negative reviews, but no problem here at all in the end. I initially called the hotel direct a couple of days beforehand to see if I could request a particular one but that was a no go.

However I did learn that Hilton now has a policy of giving you a non-smoking room unless you specifically request a smoking one. The booking that came through from Priceline actually specified non-smoking so that was a welcome relief. :)

At checkin time we just asked for a "quiet room" and ended up getting a one with 2 double beds and 2 bathrooms on the 15th floor, very nice! Yes the rooms are smaller than the more modern hotel but it wasn't a problem for us.

For the price and location you can't argue - would stay there again no problem.

Link to comment
  • 5 months later...

Okay, having read the mixed reviews of the Palmer House and having just stayed there let me say ...

1) Prime location.

2) Lobby area is absolutely gorgeous. They serve drinks in the lobby lounge at night (pricey) and it's a great place to unwind.

3) Service was fantastic. Polite and helpful.

4) Showed my Hilton Honors Gold VIP card and got the VIP treatment (access to the VIP lounge, which isn't as nice as the lobby lounge actually). Did not get any Hilton points (at least last time I checked).

5) Room with one King bed was a bit small - couldn't do a yoga workout in there. But the bed was comfortable, the room was very clean, they provided plenty of shampoo, soap, etc. and overall it was anice room, if a bit small. ( The only two double bed rooms left were smoking, so I took the king room which I've read is smaller.)

6) Tower records is nearby. Won't be for long. I remember when this was Rose Records ... great music store. Hope another music store takes it's place as this has been a music store, in some form or another, apparently since 1916 or so.

7) Thumbs up!

So, if you get this, don't expect a big room if you get a king, but frankly that's the only negative that I can see. It was a very nice experience.

Link to comment
  • 1 year later...

Just got back from a 2 day stay at the Palmer House (4/1 to 4/3, $100) and what a treat!!! The renovations have made the Historic Palmer House amazingly beautiful. Sitting in the lobby with a view of the Empire Room.......wow! I was apprehensive about the Palmer House given previous reviews and those on other sites, but we our experience was wonderful. Our request for 2 beds was met with courteous service on the phone and at the front desk. Our room on the 9th floor was HUGE! We could have done cartwheels in our room, which was great since we were with our two children and they needed some space after our trips to the American Girl Store and the Lego store. Renovations were still going on and there was a bit of noise that started at 7:30 am, but we were up anyway. All in all, we were thrilled with our stay. Yes, parking is expensive...yes, food and drink at the hotel were pricey, but it's the Palmer House in Downtown Chicago. We got all that we expected and so much more!

Link to comment

I just returned from a stay at the Palmer House Hilton this past weekend... the night of 4/4/08. Most of the posts in this thread hold a lot of merit. I might repeat some of it, but here goes:

The location is fantastic. We were only about a block and a half from Millenium Park and the Art Institute. There is plenty of food and shopping near by also. The staff seemed pleasant enough. We requested a 2 double bed room at check-in, and my request was granted without so much as a word. When the other half of our room (2 friends from out of town) showed up, they had to have security call our room to verify that we approved sending the guests up. It was nice to know that there was some security involved, although a little annoying to our friends. The historic public areas are gorgeous. Unlike the TripAdvisor reviews, I didn't find the hallways, carpeting, or walls to be faded, worn out, torn, dirty, or anything like that.

The room, which I mentioned was a 2 double bed room, was VERY small. I don't demand 2000 sq. ft. in a hotel room, but it was incredibly small for the amount they generally charge for the room. The room is also fairly no-frills. There weren't many special touches. The decor is either historic-feeling or outdated... it depends on how you look at it. I thought it was appropriate. There was a coffee maker and a hair dryer... that was about it. They had 2 bottles of Fiji water available at $6.50 each, which we didn't take. There was a soda machine up the hall though (with a card reader for those who don't carry cash), and soda or water could be purchased for $2.50 for a 20 oz bottle. My friend didn't want to go to the lobby, so he ordered 4 MGD's up to the room. It took about an hour and cost $40, but I wasn't the one paying for it. The beds are decent, but not great... no complaints, no raving.

Parking was $35 for self-park if the hotel validates it for you, and you get in-and-out service until 5pm the day you check-out. Since we were only there for a night and not taking the car in and out, it turned out cheaper for our friends who didn't validate... $29, rather than $35.

Basically, we paid $90/night, and I wouldn't have wanted to pay much more than that for it. If you can get it fairly cheap, it's totally worth it for location alone. However, I would have been angry if I'd paid several hundred for the night. I'd call it a solid 3-star hotel, but not a 4-star. I stayed at the Marriott on Magnificent Mile that Priceline calls a 3-star, and it was a LOT nicer.

Hope this helps someone.


Link to comment
  • 2 months later...

Dates of stay: June 11-14, 2008

Just got back from a girl's weekend in Chicago at the Palmer House at $90 a night through Priceline. Can't be more pleased. Had three sharing a room, so I was nervous about the bed arrangements. Called immediately after I won the bid and requested two double beds. Repeated request at check in, and knowing renovations were underway, asked if it was possible to get a renovated room. Was offered a renovated room with two double beds or an unrenovated room with two double beds and two bathrooms! Went with the renovated room and it was huge! Very happy. Was a little disappointed that there was no coffee maker in the room, but I survived. Excellent location with a theater across the street and Millenium Park just a block away.

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

Positives and negatives from my recent (July 2008) stay at the Palmer House Hilton in the Loop area of Chicago, Illinois:


The hotel and its staff appear to be working assiduously to improve the hotel's past mixed reviews. Even though the hotel knew I was a "third party" (Priceline / Hotline) guest, the front desk promptly granted my request for a renovated room with two double beds. The room was large, with two closets. The beds were comfortable. Excellent, friendly, and alert security guards downstairs at street (below lobby) level. Every single staff member with whom I had contact was pleasant and helpful. My sense is that management, to its credit, has trained its employees to go above-and-beyond in interacting cordially with guests.

The lobby, most rooms, and the fitness center have been renovated. The pool and the central street entrance are currently still closed for renovations.

The hotel's location is excellent if you plan to see "Jersey Boys" or plan to visit the impressive Art Institute of Chicago or the new Millennium Park. Each is no more than 1.5 blocks away. All are worth a visit.

There is a relatively new CVS across the street for those items you forget, and there is a second, seedier CVS around the block. A Corner Bakery next to the hotel supplies moderately-priced breakfast foods (ask for the scrambled eggs by themselves - not shown on the menu - and you'll get a plateful of tasty, hot eggs for $2.75), and an Au Bon Pain and a Panda Express near the Art Institute (1 block from the hotel) provide alternative sources of inexpensive meals.

Lovely, historic, carefully-restored lobby. The restored ceiling (go online to see a photo) is exquisite. You may want to spend some time there: order a libation or simply drink in the ambience. The halls of the hotel are lined with framed, black-and-white photos of the stars who played the hotel from the 1940's on. The photos are a fascinating bit of memorabilia: you'll recognize Sonny and Cher, George Burns, Jack Jones, and many others.

The hotel is only 1/2 block from the CTA "El" (subway). You can take the subway to and from the airport for a mere $2 each way, but the station near the hotel has no elevator, and dragging luggage up and down metal stairs can be a hot and uncomfortable business. There is an elevator at an El station a few blocks away. If you're taking in a Cubs game, the El takes you there and back, without the need to change lines. Don't even think of driving your own or a rented car into the city. Parking is scarce and pricey, and the drivers use horns instead of brakes, and consider lane lines and speed limits mere suggestions.

Gray Line tours/trolleys (affiliated with Go Chicago cards) is conveniently located in the hotel lobby.


There is no coffee maker in the room and no complimentary coffee in the lobby. To get coffee, you either have to visit the hotel restaurant, order room service, or go next door to the Corner Bakery. Bad for those of us who need our coffee to get dressed!

Bathroom amenities are limited to shampoo, conditioner, and soap. The bathroom is small.

There is a $15/night charge to use the fitness center.

The neighborhood is so-so. Go left toward the river and Art Institute, and the neighborhood is fine. Go right, and the neighborhood rapidly goes downhill, with run-down stores and homeless persons lingering outside. The El (subway) is VERY close to the hotel (generally a good thing) and VERY noisy. If you are tired at night, you won't notice it for long. If you are a light sleeper, or are not accustomed to urban noises, you'll lie awake for awhile.

No newspapers are delivered to the rooms; however, stacks of USA Today newspapers are left on a table near the elevators on each floor. I personally would prefer one of the local papers for more interesting local color, but others may disagree.

The hotel should demand a refund from the design firm that selected the colors and fabrics for the renovated rooms. What WERE they thinking? The fabrics sport an ugly, retro combination of olive green, mustard green, vivid yellow, and similar colors. Truly unfortunate color combinations. The room I had, while large, did not have a couch. It did have a small desk and one comfortable reading chair, ottoman, and reading lamp. I saw other rooms as I walked past during housecleaning, and some were, indeed, much smaller than mine. I appreciated the hotel's thoughtfulness in providing me the larger room.


I really WANT to like this hotel, because it clearly is trying so hard to better itself. And the people are so darn nice! But, even after the renovation, it still seems dated. If you love glitz and shiny new, this is not the hotel for you. If, however, you want to be within walking distance of the Art Institute, "Jersey Boys," and the Millennium Park, you may find this hotel a good fit. It certainly is NOT a cookie-cutter, chain hotel, and is one you will remember. You usually can secure a PL price of between $90 and $100 per night for this hotel which, in Chicago, is not bad.

Link to comment

Palmer House Hilton, 07/25-07/28, $90 through Priceline.

I had read mixed reviews of this hotel and I felt the hotel left me a little wanting too. I had put in a request for two beds, however, it wasn't granted in the end. The lady at Registration told me with a big smile and without investing a second looking into it that they didn't have any [for me]. I asked about a rollaway bed, and she said I could have one for $30 (asked me twice, for whatever reason). I didn't realize it at first but then I thought about it and it seemed she probably meant $30/night.

The room was suprisingly very small. I had read that people were getting small rooms but I didn't think a 4* would have rooms that small. I didn't even think that a rollaway bed could fit somewhere in there (it did). No bar fridge - I would have liked that. I didn't think the bathroom was too small but nobody could accuse them of oversupplying toiletries. Disappointed with the bed too - have had much better ones at Hampton Inn.

I think the location is pretty decent although it goes downhill pretty fast in one direction - complete with many homeless people after you for change.

They provide you with every option to check out without coming down and interacting with a person. The final status bill they delivered on the morning of the checkout had not one character printed on it. I would have liked to see at least $0.00 written on there for a prepaid stay. But wait, what about the rollaway bed? I checked the account info on the TV (not too many cable channels, BTW) and it said zero without any info either.

At checkout time, I went to the desk and raised the issue of the rollaway bed (I figure they have my credit card #, so might as well settle it properly). The bed never made it to the account. So the lady just told me that that was it. I would have never expected a top chain to forget charging somebody (complimentary waiving of a charge is a different matter).

All in all, I didn't think it was too bad. But it just didn't give a 4* feel. I'd be a lot more upset if I had to shell out $200/night for this. Not sure if I had a "priceline room."

Link to comment
Palmer House Hilton, 07/25-07/28, $90 through Priceline.

What floor did you stay on?

I was just there from 7/23 to 7/25 and interestingly at checkin they only had two doubles available and couldn't give us a king. We ended up on the 10th floor in what I would call a double-wide room complete with two armchairs and ottoman, no doubt one of the newly renovated rooms. Certainly much larger than what I'd expected.

Overall I was happy with the price we paid ($95) given the regular rate and cost elsewhere for downtown Chicago

Link to comment
What floor did you stay on?

I was on the 17th floor. It wasn't that bad but just didn't have a certain "wow factor" that I expect Hilton to have. Since I don't really expect to utilize their restaurants and lounges, I evaluate hotels largely on just the confines of the room (a gym would be nice but it was extra charge at this hotel... at least the run on the lakeshore was free... and they had free gatorade too!). And I can think of better experiences with motel chains. So then I wonder, why not save another $30 or so if I am to get the same level of service/product? This is more of a philosophical issue though :-)

Ah well, at least we had lots of fun talking about how our rollaway bed was to cost us an additional 1/3 the price of the room! Haha.

Link to comment
  • 5 weeks later...

June 9 - 11 (Sat and Sun night stay, check out on a Monday - we were there for the Chicago Distance Half Marathon Weekend, so it was a busy weekend, the other Hilton was the host hotel - $199 a night rooms tho)

I came in on the train from the suburbs, got there before 9 am, to check in with a request. The front staff was very friendly and kind (and joked I was there a tad "early" for check-in - - I assured him I did not expect a room available but needed to "shop" as my future daughter in law and I were looking for dresses, then running 13.1 mile - and btw was there a possibility of a room with 2 dbl beds, and away from the "el" line? If not, I completely understood)

We were given a room on the 14th floor - facing (sort of) State Street - it was a HUGE room - 2 baths, a sitting area, a very tiny TV - but it was much appreciated after the marathon -

I agree with previous posters about the location - going out the 'back way' (not State Street) to the left the Corner Bakery - to the right and up a street was the way to the Marathon - on a Sunday, please note that most places, for whatever reason, close early on SUNDAYS!! I think Corner Bakery closes at 6pm, but most others were already closed!! Also, on our very slow walk from the finish line to the hotel, we passed a liquor store, and we were quite willing to share a beer with our Bakery sandwiches we had togo!! So I will mention that little liquour store had the large size Red Stripe beers for $1.99, a definate bargain to our way of thinking!!

My bid I believe was won at $90 (I get confused with the fees tacked on in the end )

Link to comment
  • 2 years later...

Like several others who have reviewed the Palmer House, we were apprehensive when we checked in that the room would not meet our expectations. We asked during check-in if a room with a king bed was available. The check-in receptionist was charming and said she would look but that the hotel was very full. She said she found one for us and we headed off to the 21st floor. When the elevator opened, we saw that we were on a floor designated as Diamond Club or some kind of designation. In fact we saw some people from our floor head upstairs for a complimentary breakfast, but we didn't push our luck. Anyway, the room we had was simply huge. It had a king bed and a very large sitting area with two large comfortable chairs. I don't know how rooms are assigned, and I know we've sometimes felt that because we booked through Priceline we're given the "bad" rooms, we certainly lucked out on this trip!

Link to comment
Need help with your own trip?

Register now, we have a huge community of travel enthusiasts to answer any questions you might have.

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account
Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
EXCLUSIVELY at BetterBidding:
5% OFF


(click here) and use

promo code


(Express Hotels or most Pay Now Hotels / 3+ stars / max $50 discount... expires 08/31/2022)
$20 OFF


(click here) and use

promo code


(Express Hotels $125+ purchase... expires 08/15/2022)
PRICELINE & HOTWIRE on one screen!
NOTE: Priceline searches for
Room %roomN%:
Age of child:
  • Create New...