Basic Luxury: A Review of The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Chicago
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I booked a member’s rate directly on the Marriott app for $159 plus taxes and fees. For normal weekdays, I’ve seen the rate hover in the mid-$200s, and for weekends, as low as $199.
I put the bill on my Citi Prestige card, which earns me 3x points on hotel stays, and racked up 834 ThankYou points. I could have also used Marriott points for my stay. As it was a Category 5 hotel, it would have cost 35,000 Marriott Reward points. As an Ambassador member, I also earned 4,382 Marriott Reward points for my stay, worth close to $40, according to TPG’s recent valuations.
The hotel is accessible from Rush Street. Without traffic, it takes about 30 minutes and costs about $40 to get to O’Hare Airport (ORD), though you should definitely give yourself over an hour in rush hour. If you are making your way downtown on the “L”, allocate about an hour.
The hotel’s lobby is located on the fifth floor, but there was plenty of signage, and multiple valets pointed us to the elevators when we first arrived.
The elevators door opened up to the lobby, with the check-in desks directly ahead.
The pink couches, geometric designs and dark hues were striking. I liked the classic, elegant vibes — it all felt very old-school Chicago.
Like I mentioned earlier, the hotel is named after Chicago sculptor Gwen Lux — one of her works is displayed prominently in the lobby.
I arrived around 7pm, and check-in took about five minutes. I had completed mobile check-in, but it didn’t seem like the property had enabled mobile room keys yet.
I wasn’t proactively asked to choose breakfast or points as a Platinum amenity, though I did ask for the breakfast amenity before heading up to my room. I requested a room with two double beds, but the check-in agent mentioned those rooms were fully committed for the night, so she offered (without me asking) to send up a rollaway to our room, which I did appreciate. She handed over my keys, and I passed the buzzing lobby bar as I made my way to room 709.
The door for my superior king room opened up to a small corridor with the luxurious bathroom on the righthand side.
The bathroom was stocked with classy Molton Brown toiletries in the shower and bathtub.
A separate water closet with the toilet was on the other side of the vanity.
The entire bathroom was spacious and well-appointed. Past the bathroom, the king bed was centered against the back wall, with wall art behind it. The bed was comfy, and the linens were silky smooth. Two end tables framed the bed with outlets on each side. There was one small table awkwardly perched against the window wall without a chair next to it. The tree lamp also felt slightly strange for the space.
On the other side of the room was a massive TV and a desk against the wall. The hotel had just gotten a new TV system, and the channels weren’t listed and a guide wasn’t available. The front desk also couldn’t locate the NBC Sports channel, which is available in most upscale hotels. A technician eventually found it for me, though I missed almost half of the soccer match I had wanted to watch, which was unfortunate. I imagine this is probably a one-off experience during the transition period between systems.
Under the TV was an empty minifridge, which is much more useful than a minibar, along with a few water bottles, glasses, coffeemaker and an ice bucket.
The view outside was of Michigan Avenue and the InterContinental Hotel, which wasn’t particularly special. The windows were quite dirty but did a great job of keeping out street noise.
The decor of the room felt bare for a Luxury Collection hotel. It seemed more akin to a Westin. The space was large, and the finishings were classy though nothing really made the rooms feel more unique than other luxury brands.
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