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I often like to tell the story of two different trips to Chicago that I took a long time ago (before I was involved in the world of miles and points).  I was taking a training class for work and it was on 2 different weeks in Chicago.  The first week, the training was out in the suburbs, and I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in the Chicagoland suburb of Schaumburg, where I had free parking, free breakfast and free wi-fi.  The 2nd week, the training was downtown, so I stayed at the Palmer House Hilton downtown, where it was $50 / day for parking, breakfast was only in the restaurant, and there was an extra charge for wi-fi (this has since changed if you’re an Honors member).

When I was complaining about this to a friend, he was like “But you’re at the freaking PALMER HOUSE!” And I was not super impressed – I mean sure it was historic, and it looked nice, but I was in a broom closet and getting nickel and dimed for every last thing!  Even though it was not the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed at, it was one of my worst hotel stays.

I’ve shared this story at the Chicago Seminars a few times and it was the basis for my article titled 3 reasons budget hotels DESTROY “nice” ones.  So when I was heading to Chicago recently, and I had the chance to try out the Palmer House Hilton (this time as a “Diamond Guest“), I knew I had to try it!

Palmer House Hilton location, ambiance and decor

The Palmer House Hilton is located in downtown Chicago, on Monroe Street between State and Wabash.  The main entrance is on Monroe Street, but there are also entrances on both State and Wabash (Wabash entrance pictured below)

So depending on where you’re coming from or going to, one of those side entrances may be more convenient.  Note that like many hotels, only the main entrance is open at late / early hours of the day.

The decor is quite ornate

The lobby and check-in desk is not on the ground floor but instead up one level

Palmer House Hilton room

As I mentioned, in my original stay, I got a super tiny broom closet, but this time I did ask for an upgrade and received an upgrade to an executive room, which was quite spacious.

I asked if there were any rooms that fronted State Street (I was there for the McDonalds Thanksgiving Day parade which goes up and down State Street), but there were not any.

My room had 3 (!) closets

And the bathroom was standard

Palmer House Hilton executive lounge hours and food

As a Hilton Diamond member, I had access to the Hilton Palmer House Executive Lounge, which is located on the 23rd floor (there are 24 floors total).  You need to use your key to access the lounge, though I did find that you could also use the stairs, and there was no keycard required to get into the lounge via the stairwell (probably a bug)

Out of the elevator, there is a seating area, and there are more seating areas to the left and right.  It was not too crowded for most of the time, but at breakfast and dinner it got VERY crowded.

During most of the day, the food area looks as it does below, with fruit and snacks and a complimentary pop machine

Palmer House Hilton executive lounge breakfast

Breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and has the standard stuff (eggs, pancakes, breads, etc)

Out near the elevator at the Palmer House Hilton Executive Lounge there is also fresh fruit and muffins / croissants

Hilton Palmer House executive lounge dinner

The Hilton Palmer House executive lounge also offers “complimentary hors d’oeuvres” between 5-7 p.m. which in my world is code for “dinner”

(SEE ALSO: Which hotels offer free dinner?)

The first night it was chicken tostadas, which were quite tasty.

The second night they had naan and tikka masala chicken.  This night the hotel was much more crowded.  I got up there a few minutes after 5 when dinner started and there was a long line waiting to get food.

They ran out of chicken tikka masala so they brought out chicken a la McNuggets 🙂

Which were also tasty.

Palmer House Hilton review

I had a good time at the Palmer House Hilton and it’s fairly inexpensive as well for some reason.  I’m regularly finding rates around $100 and it’s booking about 23,000 – 29,000 Hilton Honors points a night.

Certainly having status with Hilton helps! 🙂  Thankfully many cards give Hilton Gold status.  You can get Hilton Gold with any of the American Express Platinum cards or the Hilton Honors Surpass card (soon to be Ascend).   You can currently beat the top public offer on the Surpass card using refer a friend offers (here’s mine for 85,000 Hilton points!) See other top credit card offers here

Have you ever stayed at the Palmer House Hilton?  Leave your experience in the comments

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