Want to take advantage of Marriott STARS benefits, including a space available room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked. This is valid for paid stays at BVLGARI, EDITION, Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and St. Regis.
We recently needed to be in Chicago for a couple of nights, and decided to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. I was impressed by this property, as it was probably the first Marriott-family property in the United States that I’ve stayed at since the start of the pandemic that seemed to more or less have service fully restored. On top of that, this is just generally a very well rounded property with great views.
Booking the Ritz-Carlton Chicago
For our two night stay, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago was charging around $400 per night. Ford booked us through the Marriott STARS program, offering complimentary daily breakfast, a $100 property credit, and more. This is especially useful, since Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members and above don’t otherwise receive complimentary breakfast at Ritz-Carlton properties.
Adding even more value was that I paid with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review), which offers a $300 annual Marriott credit, and my anniversary just hit, so I could apply that towards this stay. Furthermore, the card had an Amex Offers deal offering $50 in savings when spending $200+.
As a point of comparison, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago is a Category 6 Marriott Bonvoy property, meaning a free night redemption costs anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 Bonvoy points per night. Do keep in mind that Marriott Bonvoy will soon be eliminating award charts, though.
Ritz-Carlton Chicago location
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago is located at 160 East Pearson Street, at Water Tower Place. Water Tower Place is 74 stories high, and the Ritz-Carlton takes up floors 11 through 31.
The hotel is located right next to the 100 story John Hancock Center, and it’s just a few blocks from Lake Michigan.
The entrance to the Ritz-Carlton is located right next to the entrance to the Residences at Water Tower, so it’s quite easy to find.
Ritz-Carlton Chicago lobby & check-in
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago lobby is on the 12th floor, so on the ground level there’s just some seating, along with elevators to the lobby (to get to the guest rooms, you need to take a separate set of elevators).
While the Ritz-Carlton Chicago first opened in 1975, the hotel recently underwent a full renovation, and the public spaces are gorgeous. Christmas decorations were already fully up during our stay.
Reception was located inside the lobby and to the right, and there was plenty of seating as well.
Our check-in process was quick, and we were informed that we had been upgraded to a Lakeside Suite — woot! We were also made familiar with the hotel’s amenities, and were happy to see that everything was operating as pre-pandemic, from the restaurants, to room service, to the pool and gym, to turndown service.
Furthermore, as a Bonvoy Titanium member I was given a voucher that could be used for discounts on-property. For example, we could save 20% on all food & beverage purchases, and 10% on spa services, which is a nice touch, and makes a lot of the on-property pricing more reasonable.
The lobby floor also had most of the hotel’s food & beverage outlets, which I’ll talk more about later. With keys in hand, we first headed up to our room.
Ritz-Carlton Chicago Lakeside Suite
We were assigned room 3005, a Lakeside Suite on the 30th floor. Upon exiting the elevators we turned right, and then our room was at the end of the hallway and on the left.
As mentioned above, we got a great upgrade here, as the Lakeside Suites are advertised as being 1,000 square feet, so they’re huge. Inside the entrance to the room was a hallway, which contained the minibar, and that led into the living room.
The living room was nicely furnished, with both a dining and living area.
Closest to the entrance was the dining area, which featured a circular table with four chairs.
There was a welcome amenity waiting on the table (a standard benefit for Marriott STARS bookings), consisting of a bottle of sparkling wine, as well as some nuts and local popcorn in Chicago-themed mugs, which was a cute amenity.
Also near the entrance was the minibar, which featured a Nespresso machine, as well as drinks and snacks for purchase. A vast majority of hotels I’ve stayed at in the United States during the pandemic have had the minibars emptied out, so it was cool to see a hotel back to offering full service.
Further into the living room was an “L” shaped couch, as well as a seat, along with a wall-mounted TV.
I loved the panoramic views from our room. While we were lucky to be on a high floor, guest rooms only start on the 13th floor, so there are lots of views to be had from the Ritz-Carlton.
At the back of the living room were two sliding doors leading into the bedroom area. The bedroom had a comfortable king size bed and a chaise.
There was a wall-mounted TV in the bedroom as well.
To the side of the bedroom was a closet.
Next to that was the bathroom, which featured double sinks, a toilet, a walk-in shower, and a bathtub.
I thought the bathroom was great, except for the lack of separation between the toilet and the rest of the bathroom, which I found a bit odd. However, I recognize that changing around plumbing in 45+ year old buildings can be complicated.
The shower had both a rainforest shower head and a handheld one.
Toiletries were from Asprey London, as is standard at Ritz-Carlton properties. I’ve always found this to be a perfectly nice toiletry line, though rather unmemorable.
Not only does the Ritz-Carlton Chicago offer daily housekeeping, but it also offers turndown service. My goodness, it has been quite a while since I’ve seen a bedside chocolate — I sure did miss that!
Wi-Fi is complimentary for Bonvoy members, and was fast throughout the property.
Ritz-Carlton Chicago Torali Restaurant & Bar
Torali is the Ritz-Carlton Chicago’s signature restaurant, and it’s open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s located on the 12th floor, and is nicely integrated into the lobby.
On one side of the lobby is Torali Bar, open in the afternoons and evenings. Torali Bar serves cocktails and light snacks.
On the other side of the lobby is Torali Restaurant, which is an Italian steakhouse. This is where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served.
Breakfast was included with our rate on account of having booked a Marriott STARS rate. Breakfast is served daily from 7AM until 2PM (you read that right), and you can find the menu below.
Not only was breakfast included, but keep in mind I also had a voucher for 20% off, though I guess there wasn’t really a need to stack those (still, I couldn’t help myself). I had coffee both mornings, which was excellent.
To eat we had the greek yogurt parfait, avocado & egg toast, and truffle egg white frittata. We enjoyed all of them, and the service was friendly and attentive as well.
We also had lunch at Torali one day, since we had the credit to spend. You can find the lunch menu below.
I had an excellent field green salad with chicken, while Ford had the pan seared salmon.
I should also mention that Torali has a seasonal outdoor terrace, but it’s not open in November.
Ritz-Carlton Chicago The Cafe
As an additional option for the first half of the day, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago has The Cafe, open daily from 6AM until 1PM. This is a greenhouse-inspired space serving coffee, juices, sandwiches, desserts, and more. We didn’t end up having anything here, but it was a nice-looking space.
Ritz-Carlton Chicago spa, gym, & pool
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago has a spa, gym, and pool, on the 11th floor. I didn’t get any spa treatments, but you can find the spa menu here.
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago has an impressive gym, in terms of the size, equipment, views, and natural light. I’ll let the pictures of the gym speak mostly for themselves, but it was one of the better hotel gyms I’ve seen in a while.
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago also has an indoor pool, open daily from 6AM until 8PM. This is an amenity you won’t find in many hotels in Chicago, so that’s cool.
Ritz-Carlton Chicago service
Our service experience at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago was great. Admittedly you don’t interact with staff quite as much at a city hotel as at a resort, and we were also busy while in Chicago, and didn’t spend that much time in the hotel.
However, across the board we found staff to be friendly and helpful. While the hotel has 434 rooms, it didn’t feel like it in terms of service (I’m guessing it wasn’t that full?). Beyond that, I appreciated the extent to which standard service had been resumed, from turndown service, to stocked minibars, to all facilities being open.
While I don’t usually have very high expectations of city hotels in the United States, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago impressed me. In particular, the hotel’s location, views, gym, and pool stood out to me. The hotel also recently underwent a full renovation, and that’s reflected in the guest rooms and public areas.
I was also happy to finally stay at a property in the United States that’s more or less offering full service, rather than cutting corners due to coronavirus, as so many hotels are doing nowadays.
I’d recommend this hotel whether redeeming points or booking a cash rate, assuming the price is right.
If you’ve stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, what was your experience like?