Review: Ritz-Carlton Chicago

Review: Ritz-Carlton Chicago

NAME: Ritz-Carlton Chicago
LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois
DATE: November 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: The Ritz-Carlton Chicago is an excellent city hotel that was recently renovated. It features great views, an excellent gym & pool, and a beautiful lobby with food & beverage outlets.
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EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy breakfast, upgrades, & more

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 each Card renewal year, up to $300 in statement credits for purchases on the Card at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™. Effective 9/22/22, the $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit benefit will no longer be available. It will be replaced with a NEW benefit of up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, 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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago exterior

The hotel is located right next to the 100 story John Hancock Center, and it’s just a few blocks from Lake Michigan.

Water Tower Place & John Hancock Center

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 exterior

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).

Ritz-Carlton Chicago ground level entrance

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago lobby

Reception was located inside the lobby and to the right, and there was plenty of seating as well.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago reception
Ritz-Carlton Chicago lobby seating

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago Bonvoy Titanium discount voucher
Ritz-Carlton Chicago Bonvoy Titanium discount voucher

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 lobby
Ritz-Carlton Chicago lobby

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago hallway

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite entryway

The living room was nicely furnished, with both a dining and living area.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite living room
Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite living room

Closest to the entrance was the dining area, which featured a circular table with four chairs.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite dining area

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago welcome 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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite in-room minibar
Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite in-room minibar

Further into the living room was an “L” shaped couch, as well as a seat, along with a wall-mounted TV.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite living area
Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite living area

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite view
Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite view
Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite view

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite bedroom

There was a wall-mounted TV in the bedroom as well.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite bedroom

To the side of the bedroom was a closet.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite closet

Next to that was the bathroom, which featured double sinks, a toilet, a walk-in shower, and a bathtub.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite bathroom

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite toilet & bathtub

The shower had both a rainforest shower head and a handheld one.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago suite shower

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago Asprey toiletries

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!

Ritz-Carlton Chicago turndown service chocolate

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago lobby

On one side of the lobby is Torali Bar, open in the afternoons and evenings. Torali Bar serves cocktails and light snacks.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago Torali Bar
Ritz-Carlton Chicago Torali Bar
Ritz-Carlton Chicago Torali Bar

On the other side of the lobby is Torali Restaurant, which is an Italian steakhouse. This is where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago Torali Restaurant

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago breakfast menu

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago breakfast

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago breakfast
Ritz-Carlton Chicago breakfast
Ritz-Carlton Chicago breakfast

We also had lunch at Torali one day, since we had the credit to spend. You can find the lunch menu below.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago lunch menu

I had an excellent field green salad with chicken, while Ford had the pan seared salmon.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago lunch
Ritz-Carlton Chicago lunch

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 The Cafe
Ritz-Carlton Chicago The Cafe
Ritz-Carlton Chicago The Cafe

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago spa

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.

Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym
Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym
Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym
Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym
Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym
Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym
Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym
Ritz-Carlton Chicago gym

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 pool area
Ritz-Carlton Chicago pool
Ritz-Carlton Chicago pool
Ritz-Carlton Chicago pool seating
Ritz-Carlton Chicago pool seating

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.

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (34)
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  1. blah Guest

    The Langham Chicago is the best hotel in the city. Service, room, FNB are all top notch.

  2. Junior Guest

    You've just outed them for not being compliant with the Pepsi compliance. ;)

  3. David Guest

    What about Park Hyatt Chicago ? How does it compare with the Peninsula and the FS ?

  4. Steven E Guest

    I agree the “suite” looks very outdated and ordinary - perhaps the pictures don’t do it justice

  5. GBOAC Diamond

    My first reaction to the photos of the "large" rooms was how much wasted space there was. Not a good design choice:-(

  6. Kyle Guest

    Am I the only person who hates hotels where you have to take an elevator to the lobby? In a city hotel sure- I get it's the only way to do it but so many hotels are being built where it takes forever just to find the lobby

  7. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    As far as I know, the Ritz-Carlton is the only Ritz-Carlton in North America that is operated by a franchisee/licensee. It is operated by Sage Hospitality.

    I believe the Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur is the only other Ritz-Carlton worldwide not operated by Marriott International.

  8. Chris Guest

    I see that breakfast was included in your particular rate Ben, but very surprised that breakfast wasn’t on the list of things included for your membership level. Is this normal at a ritz Carlton for Titanium?

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      "Free" breakfast for Marriott Bonvoy elites has never been a benefit at Ritz-Carlton properties.

  9. Jetset Guest

    Agree with others here. The Langham, Peninsula, and Four Seasons are all far nicer for luxury hotels and then you have places like Nobu Hotel, Ace Hotel, or the Hoxton if you want new and trendy in a bustling neighborhood.

  10. Kevin Guest

    Unless they renovated again recently, unfortunately, only the suites are renovated. The regular rooms are even more dated. It's not a property I ever recommend to friends coming to Chicago unfortunately. If you want luxury, I agree with Stuart - go to The Peninsula a few blocks away.

  11. Sammy New Member

    I stayed here a few years ago. The rates were below $300/night midweek, so I got a good rate and used the RC Rewards Card's free club upgrade certs for club access. The club lounge is nice and comfortable with a friendly and attentive international staff and lots of good food so that I didn't have to eat in the restaurants. Also got a $100 hotel credit with the card. The location and views are hard to beat.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Did they have real champagne in the club lounge? Three out of the last four Ritz-Carlton club lounges I've used have tried passing passing off $5 JP Chenet or $8-$10 Martini & Rossi Asti as acceptable "champagne." When I've complained they've pulled out the Champagne Barons de Rothschild Ritz champagne that is from the real Ritz in Paris. Ritz-Carlton seems buy a bunch of cases for their properties, which I find interesting.

  12. shoeguy Guest

    The room furnishings are meh, at best. If you want real luxury in Chicago, you stay at the Peninsula or the Langham, not the top tier of a mass market chain.

  13. Jimmy’s Travel Report Gold

    Killer views.

    We stayed at this property 5 years ago and enjoyed it, but I have to agree the Peninsula Chicago is better at typically the same price. Perhaps being a Bonvoy elite with an upgrade would tilt the choice towards the Ritz Carlton.

    Love Chicago, such a wonderful city.

  14. D3kingg Guest

    I’m going to the Hilton Chicago in February. Apparently it has a lot of history. Is that a good hotel ?

    1. Ralph4878 Guest

      Great location, right on Grant Park. It's just south of the Loop; ask for a room on the east side of the hotel if you want a view of the park and Lake Michigan. It isn't a high rise like the hotels in the Loop, but it's also in a much older, larger building that definitely has some history and character to it. They were closed for the last 2 years or so and just...

      Great location, right on Grant Park. It's just south of the Loop; ask for a room on the east side of the hotel if you want a view of the park and Lake Michigan. It isn't a high rise like the hotels in the Loop, but it's also in a much older, larger building that definitely has some history and character to it. They were closed for the last 2 years or so and just recently re-opened at the end of the summer - I haven't been inside, but it has been VERY busy (I live 3 blocks south of it). Lots of great restaurants south of Roosevelt in the South Loop...there's not much to do, per se, in the South Loop, but if you walk north up Michigan from the Hilton there are a number of great things to see (Grant Park, Cloud Gate, the Art Institute, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Design Museum of Chicago) and the river is only a 10-15 minute walk). Just bundle up...

  15. Andrew Guest

    Is there a reason why the Titanium discount card says 4pm late checkout is subject to availability? It should be "guaranteed" for Platinum members or above and I don't believe this is a resort or convention hotel (although admittedly, I can't quite tell about the convention status since the RC website is a bit different).

    1. UA-NYC Guest

      My reactions exactly. Definitely not a convention hotel. It's just more Marriott garbage with properties barely acknowledging Bonvoy benefis.

    2. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Unfortunately, there is no $100 compensation benefit for a denied late checkout.

      As far as I know, the Ritz-Carlton is the only Ritz-Carlton in North America that is operated by a franchisee/licensee. It is operated by Sage Hospitality.

      I believe the Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur is the only other Ritz-Carlton worldwide not operated by Marriott International.

  16. Stuart Guest

    Chicago is one city that you forgo points properties and just book The Peninsula. For nearly the same rates you will have a stay at what is easily the top value luxury city property in North America.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @stuart

      Why did you have say this ? Peninsula is having a cyber Monday deal. Now Im tempted to stay there . :( :)

    2. Stuart Guest

      You won't regret it. Truly, one of the best urban properties in the country. And half the price you would pay in LA or NYC.

    3. D3kingg Guest

      @Stuart

      There are some dates in January for $360 per night with the cyber Monday 20% off deal.

    4. Stuart Guest

      Good tip! They are often really reasonable from January through March. That is actually a pretty normal rate then if booking more than three nights. Get it and enjoy, and bring the family, it really offers everything for everyone and never disappoints.

  17. Ryan Guest

    Wow I would much, much, much rather stay at the Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile for free using 1-4 certificates than this place for $400+. That pool looks awful.

  18. JP Guest

    Agree with FNT, this decor looks so tired and unremarkable. Westin level at best. Pricing looks equivalent too. Check out the Four Seasons or Langham if you want luxury in Chicago.

  19. Steve Diamond

    As someone who doesnt only stay with a single particular brand/chain and as someone who takes the mini shampoo bottles everytime, i love seeing the toiletries in the review and recognizing them as ones i have/use and then can remember my last Ritz stay as i have a few of these purple bottles.

  20. Sam Guest

    Not a coincidence that the only Marriott with remotely acceptable service standards was until recently... a Four Seasons...

  21. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    I’m sorry, but the room decor and furnishings don’t look any nicer than a Westin or JW Marriott. I’m not sure how that room is luxury.

    Why did you not mention the brand of the sparkling wine welcome amenity? Things like that are worth knowing. Did they give you a five dollar bottle of Prosecco?

  22. Anthony Diamond

    Nice to see this property has been renovated - stayed here a few times and wasn’t super impressed pre renovation. However it generally makes sense to book the Langham over this property

  23. Flyingdoctorwu Guest

    This used to to be the Ritz Carlton Chicago, a Four Seasons Hotel.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Stuart Guest

Chicago is one city that you forgo points properties and just book The Peninsula. For nearly the same rates you will have a stay at what is easily the top value luxury city property in North America.

1
JP Guest

Agree with FNT, this decor looks so tired and unremarkable. Westin level at best. Pricing looks equivalent too. Check out the Four Seasons or Langham if you want luxury in Chicago.

1
FNT Delta Diamond Guest

I’m sorry, but the room decor and furnishings don’t look any nicer than a Westin or JW Marriott. I’m not sure how that room is luxury. Why did you not mention the brand of the sparkling wine welcome amenity? Things like that are worth knowing. Did they give you a five dollar bottle of Prosecco?

1
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