Review: Thompson Hotel Chicago

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

I recently had to be in Chicago for a couple of nights (and before anyone asks, I both got tested and was traveling for a reason exempt from the quarantine requirement), and decided to book the Thompson Chicago.

Why? Well, I’ve really come to love the Thompson brand, having had good stays at the Thompson Dallas and Thompson Nashville. I didn’t necessarily have high hopes of this property, but the price was reasonable and I’m continuing to work my way towards lifetime Globalist status with Hyatt, so I try to spend money with Hyatt over competitors whenever possible.

Booking the Thompson Chicago

I had booked the Thompson Chicago through Hyatt Privé. The rate was $169 per night, and for booking through Privé I’d receive the following perks on top of the typical Globalist perks:

  • Daily full breakfast for two in the hotel’s restaurant
  • A $75 property credit per room per stay
  • A one category room upgrade confirmed at the time of booking
  • Early check-in (as early as 9AM) and late check-out (as late as 4PM), subject to availability
  • A welcome gift and letter

Well, at least theoretically I should have received those perks, though in retrospect I basically received none of those perks.

Redeeming points at the Thompson Chicago

The Thompson Chicago is a Category 4 World of Hyatt property, meaning that a free night redemption costs 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night (this also means a Category 1-4 free night certificate could be used here).

I value World of Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each, so paying cash was the better value here.

Thompson Chicago location

The 247-room Thompson is in Chicago’s Gold Coast, and I thought the location was great. The weather was beautiful when I was in Chicago, so it was a great base from which to walk around, as it was a short walk from Lake Michigan, and not far from lots of great restaurants and shopping (though I didn’t partake in either).

Thompson Chicago exterior

Thompson Chicago exterior

Thompson Chicago check-in & lobby

The Thompson’s lobby is cute and has some character, as I’ve found to be the case at all Thompson locations. There were a variety of seating options, and I was generally a fan of the design.

Thompson Chicago lobby

Thompson Chicago lobby

Thompson Chicago lobby

Thompson Chicago lobby

Thompson Chicago lobby

Also off the lobby was one of the hotel’s restaurants, which was closed and roped off, so the below is the only picture I could get of it (I’ve heard good things about the restaurants here).

Thompson Chicago lobby restaurant

When I arrived at the hotel there was another person being checked in. It seemed like there was only ever one front office person working at a time, and it probably took about 10 minutes for the previous check-in to happen, so there was a bit of a wait.

The guy checking me in was friendly, and told me I had been upgraded to a corner room. I asked about the possibility of an upgrade to a junior suite as a Globalist member (at least two were still showing for sale online), though he claimed junior suites weren’t available. Hmmm.

He explained the restaurants were closed, but handed me a room service menu that would be available.

“Great, so I can order my Globalist breakfast through this?”
“No, this is done through a third party, so that won’t apply, but we’ll post some bonus points to your account because we can’t offer breakfast.”

In case anyone is wondering about the bonus points situation, apparently Hyatt has a “breakfast recovery bonus” of 500 points per guest per night. That’s totally ridiculous, if you ask me. 500 points are worth ~$7.50 to me, which seems like unreasonable compensation for not being offered a full breakfast.

Then he brought up the Hyatt Privé $75 credit with my rate.

“While our restaurants are closed, we have some food and drinks in the back room that you can apply your credit to.”
“Okay, is there a menu, or what kind of stuff do you have?”
“There’s no menu, but you can let us know what kind of stuff you want.”
“Well what kind of stuff are we talking about?”
“Well we have prosecco and… soft drinks… and snacks.”

I wasn’t looking to drink unnecessarily, so I basically had $75 to spend on soda and junk food. Lovely.

Thompson Chicago snack basket

I ended up spending under $15 total, but go figure the morning I checked out there was literally no one at the front desk, so I just left. And then when I received the folio for my stay a couple of hours later, the charges weren’t correctly removed.

Anyway, here’s the letter I was handed at check-in, basically being told to expect very little:

Thompson Chicago corner room

The Thompson Chicago has 21 floors, and I was assigned room 1708, on the 17th floor. By the way, this nearly 250 room hotel ordinarily has just two elevators, which doesn’t seem like a lot. And during my stay one of the elevators was broken, so at times several parties would get into the elevator, despite posted restrictions limiting capacity.

Thompson Chicago hallway

The Thompson really felt bare bones. For example, below is the table in the hallway as I exited the elevator. Is there usually something on there, or…?

Thompson Chicago hallway table

The corner room I was assigned was 450 square feet, so it was a decent size and had plenty of natural light. The bathroom was inside the entrance and then to the right, while the rest of the room was straight ahead.

Thompson Chicago corner room entryway

The room itself was reasonably nice, though definitely the least nice of the Thompson properties I’ve stayed at. The king bed was comfortable, and there was a bunch of art around the bed.

Thompson Chicago corner king room

Thompson Chicago corner king room

The rest of the room design felt a bit more random to me. I don’t know if it’s that the carpet didn’t match the rest of the room, the bland walls, or what.

Thompson Chicago corner king room seating

The room had a couch and chair, a desk with another chair, and an empty mini-fridge.

Thompson Chicago corner king room seating

Thompson Chicago corner king room TV

Thompson Chicago corner king room desk

The room had lovely panoramic views, thanks to being a corner room.

Thompson Chicago corner king room view

Thompson Chicago corner king room view

The bathroom was also a good size, and had a sink, a tub, a walk-in shower, and a toilet. It’s pretty rare to see both a walk-in shower and tub in a non-suite, so that was cool.

Thompson Chicago corner king room bathroom

Thompson Chicago corner king room shower & tub

Thompson Chicago corner king room tub

Thompson Chicago corner king room walk-in shower

Thompson Chicago corner king room toilet

Toiletries were from the Bowmakers collection from D.S. & Durga, which I quite like, minus the bottles (which are very hard to use).

Thompson Chicago toiletries

For booking through Hyatt Privé there should have been a welcome amenity, but there wasn’t one. That really exemplifies the hotel’s laziness. Obviously it’s a tough time for the hotel industry, and if you want to close all restaurants, fine. But I knew they had drinks and snacks in the back room, so it’s not like they didn’t have something they could put in my room and pretend it was an amenity. But instead they just chose not to offer what was promised.

Thompson Chicago gym

The Thompson Chicago’s fitness center is on the fourth floor, and I had the chance to use it. It was nothing like the gym at the Thompson Dallas, but was perfectly fine, and most importantly there was no one else using it.

Thompson Chicago gym

Thompson Chicago gym

Thompson Chicago gym

Thompson Chicago coffee, room service, and more

Due to the lack of other services, the Thompson Chicago had complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby daily from 7AM until 11AM, which was at least a nice touch.

Thompson Chicago complimentary coffee

One morning I did decide to order room service via the menu I was presented at check-in. The room service is provided by Butler, which I had never heard of before. It’s an interesting concept — think of it like a cross between Postmates and room service.

If my understanding is correct, Butler essentially works with many hotels in a few cities, and then you can easily order food through the website, and it’s delivered directly to your room.

The benefit of this over some other food delivery services is that they deliver food directly to your room’s door without any confusion, so the integration is a bit more seamless.

For what it’s worth, the breakfast menu read as follows:

The lunch & dinner menu read as follows:

Below is a look of what the avocado toast and omelet looked like — they were totally fine, but nothing special.

Thompson Chicago room service breakfast

Bottom line

While I recognize that it’s a tough time for the hotel industry, I can’t say the Thompson Chicago impressed me much. Physically the hotel is fine — the lobby is cute, and the rooms are decent, though not as nice as other Thompsons.

However, along with the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, this was the most disappointing Hyatt I’ve stayed at in a while in terms of the amenities the hotel chose to offer. Both of the hotel’s restaurants were closed, which is fine. But then there was no breakfast option, so I received 500 points per person per night, which really isn’t a fair replacement.

And then I could simply spend my $75 credit on candy, and that wasn’t even taken off the bill correctly, because the hotel was so short staffed that there was no one in the lobby when I checked out.

Hopefully the situation at this hotel improves in the coming months, though to be honest even pre-coronavirus I haven’t heard amazing things about this hotel. Hyatt is disappointing me quite a bit lately.

If you’ve stayed at the Thompson Chicago, what was your experience like?

  1. This is the only Thompson I’ve stayed in and it was very memorable. I totally agree with everything you said about it and the location is good. We were given a room that looked identical to yours but it had some water damage in the walls. Wasn’t a big deal, but I brought it up to them since I thought they should know about it (from a maintenance standpoint). They ended up upgrading us and comped the rest all of our F&B for our 2 day stay due to the “inconvenience” of moving rooms. I didn’t ask or expect anything and the water damage wasn’t even that bad/noticeable. It’s the kind of gesture that makes you remember a property, and it’s not like it’s that big a deal to them.

  2. Sad, many hotels offer good opportunity towards highest elite status that I am interested in, however, being half way through it, I am already wondering what is that for with such kind of limited services across the board. I would love to stay back at some hostel which I see myself really belongs to. Lol

  3. Indoor dining has been open in Chicago for quite a while (with recently increased capacity based on low caseload) and the state of Illinois has even more permissive guidelines, so there’s no “state mandate” that requires restaurants to be closed. Maybe it’s a staffing challenge or maybe it’s laziness, but the least they can do is have some useful alternatives.

  4. For the reference, I’ve stayed at another Thompson during the pandemic which offered codes for Globalist’s breakfast by Butler. I was quite impressed at the time to still receive the breakfast benefit even via a third party. Now it seems it’s the property going above and beyond instead of Thompson’s standard.

  5. Based on my experience and recent flyertalk data points, the Thompson chicago seems to be the ugly duckling of Thompson’s in terms of doing the bare minimum for globalists.

  6. I don’t know if this is their reaction to sub $200 Prive rates, or if they’re just generally doing the bare minimum all the time

  7. Charging you more and giving you less. Hyatt’s new motto, and not just them as you have pointed out. I’m feeling like maybe it time to be a free agent give up the status and the credit card as it doesn’t seem worth it. The take home for me is that there is absolutely no reason to book using Hyatt Privé until things are back to normal. Thanks these last couple of Hyatt reviews have been very eye opening. Behave Hyatt CFMX booked on points stayed before so going in with no delusions.

  8. @Peter, you should have prefaced your comment with “Back in the day….”. Unfortunately almost everything corporate, not just travel, is being crapified under the guise of COVID.

    I can sorta see hotel elite status for road warriors (an endangered species), but for leisure, I’m not so sure. Of course we’d never make the spend required for hotel elite status .

    Lucky, hope you get your vaccination soon. But with the variants, use common sense.

  9. You were utterly ripped off. Is there any recourse when Hyatt Privé benefits are not honored at the hotel?

  10. Honesty, the finishes in the room look like a courtyard or hilton garden inn. Not very aspirational to me

  11. This is definitely not worst of the Thompsons. I stayed at the Thompson Gild Hall in Lower Manhattan a couple of weeks ago and your experience feels luxurious by comparison. Too many service issues to even get into (worst one was checking in at 5p, being told that the room would be ready soon and that we should wait… only to wait an hour in the lobby being told repeatedly “almost ready”). The hotel itself is a relic with a few minor tweaks as a cursory attempt to “Thompson”-ize it. Like you, I’ve come to love the brand, but it definitely feels like like they are not consistent across all of the hotels.

  12. @Lucky can you share when you stayed at this property? I have an upcoming stay mother’s day weekend in May and I’m hoping the hotel will up its game by then.

  13. @lucky how come you didn’t push back on the suite upgrade? I called out a similar situation at centric arlington and received 15K pts from WOH rep and an upgrade the next day.

  14. @Ben please consider using up your daily credit next time and even if you don’t want to eat that “junk food,” there are many homeless or less fortunate folks who would love it.

    I see Clif Bars and Sahale snacks, which while not the healthiest, aren’t terrible, anyways. Bur whenever I am faced with a situation like this, I spend it on whatever it available and donate it to any less fortunate person, I’m sure many of whom where within walking distance of that hotel. Thank you.

  15. The presentation of the omelette is an insult to the poor chef. They can’t afford to work out a safe system to serve on chinaware? Sheesh.

  16. When it first opened, and pre Hyatt, this Thompson was one of my favorite hotels in Chicago. On recent stays I have been disappointed and think it needs a refresh. But I guess the point category is telling.

  17. I am a Globalist and had a terrible stay there late last year. At that time the restaurant was open but only starting at 11. I asked if I could take a late breakfast from the brunch menu at 11 and they told me no. I never got the 500 points for lack of breakfast and they would not extend the 4 PM checkout even though there was literally nobody there.

  18. Lucky, I am curious for your take on reduced Covid services. I have traveled a decent amount but my current stay is the first where they have flat refused to do housekeeping. Others have had it on request only or with minimal changes. This one particularly ticked me off because it was not really disclosed. If I wanted an Airbnb like level of service I would not have stayed at a hotel is my thinking. What have you seen and where would you draw the line?

    Fwiw person story is from Texas so it’s not a government regulation issue, but have stayed now in both very red and very blue places and this is the first. To me it’s clearly largely a cost thing more than a covid thing at this point.

  19. I stayed at that hotel several times before the pandemic and was treated really well as a globalist. Suite upgrades (to a two level suite one time), breakfast was always unlimited and always free, 4pm check out offered, etc, etc. I hope they go back to normal soon

  20. Upstater – I really hope your comment about “the variants” is a joke. Open your eyes and realize the pandemic is over.

    On the other hand… you can stay locked inside and we won’t miss you. Last year has been wonderful year of travel for those of you who made the decision to not waste 1 year of precious life.

  21. Just arrived at our 1st Thompson in Zihqutenao Mexico – 3 pools, 2 restaurants, beachside service under a palm tree at 1/3 Chicago price. So who is the travel expert now?

  22. “I wasn’t looking to drink unnecessarily,”

    Ummm….when is drinking “necessary”??….:)

  23. I would have contacted my Prive agent and had them sort out the lack of welcome amenity and credit not being applied.

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