Friday, February 21, 2014

Westin O'Hare

Hotel Stay Details 
Hotel: The Westin O'Hare
Dates: February 16-17, 2014 
Rate Paid: $130/night (incl. taxes)
Points Earned: 1,075 SPG Points

My parents had booked our return flight back home on Monday afternoon since it was President's Day. However, our friends didn't have Monday off so we all decided to come back to Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Instead of asking them to drive us to the airport on Monday, my father booked a hotel near O'Hare for Sunday night to take advantage of the free airport shuttle. Our (Starwood) choices the Sheraton, Aloft or Westin.

We had already stayed a few times at the Aloft O'Hare in the past (and we enjoyed our stays), but we decided to try something new this time. After some quick research on Flyertalk's O'Hare Area Which Starwood? forum, my parents ended up choosing the Westin O'Hare (a full service hotel) which was pricing out the same as the limited service Aloft (about $115 base rate + $15 in taxes).

The good news was that a day before our arrival date, we were given a complimentary upgrade to an Executive Suite (700 sq ft with a "separate" living room and bedroom), but the bad news was the Westin O'Hare was undergoing some lobby renovations that compromised the stay experience a bit. But then again, perhaps that's the reason it was pricing out the same as the Aloft.

Because of the construction, the main lobby was closed and you had to enter the building through the side entrance and check in at a makeshift front desk way down along one of the large hallways.


While this doesn't sound so bad, being a 2 year old traveling with your parents made it a bigger deal. First, there was no one in the lobby to help us with luggage. Having missed my nap, I was less than perfectly behaved, instead opting to run around from being overtired as opposed to sitting patiently in my car seat. As one parent chased me around, the other had to carry the rest of our luggage including an under utilized car seat.

Eventually, we made it to the "front desk" and waited behind 4 other groups checking in. Normally, there would be a separate line for Starwood Gold & Platinum members, but not with this makeshift configuration. OK, the wait wasn't that long (about 10 minutes) but my father sure didn't appreciate having to chase me around for a single minute longer than he had to.

We were given keycards to our room and sent on our way. My father had to ask about all the usual things that a good front desk person should volunteer, such as directions to the elevator, wifi options, check out times, airport shuttle times, restaurants on the property, etc. She seemed more focused on getting us processed and onto the next person, which I can respect, but to a degree.

Next we made our way further down the hallway, past all the construction, to the escalators heading down to the Lower Lobby since the Lobby elevators were closed. As you can see, there were plenty of signs everywhere to compensate for the fact the Front Desk agents were too busy to guide us.


Eventually, we made it to our Room 540. It was a suite in the sense that we had an extra living room area for Jack and Connor to come over for dinner later, but a door to close off the bedroom would have been nice.



The bathroom was quite large, but kind of a waste of space. The sink area was as long as the bedroom itself, with the toilet and the bathtub placed in a separate smaller room. Not sure who needs all that empty space by the single sink, but who am I to judge?

Some people on Flyertalk had mentioned that the Westin O'Hare doesn't offer you any complimentary bottles of water. And they were right.

While we did have a small wetbar area, it was devoid of any bottled water. In fact, the mini-fridge under the TV was also completely empty. Now, most of the time, we like to have an empty fridge to keep my juices and food during our hotel stays, but I suppose many other people want easy access to overpriced soft drinks and liquor.

The room itself was pretty comfortable and the thermostat worked perfectly. While being close to the airport, we didn't notice any noise at all from the planes taking off. In fact, I had a great night of sleep in the Westin Heavenly king bed. Baby Songer loves her plush pillowtop mattresses.

The next morning, we woke up and leisurely took our time getting ready. Instead of breakfast at the hotel restaurant (which was relocated to a conference room due to the construction), we opted for a quick bite at the Starbucks in the lobby to take back to our room.


Since our flight was scheduled to depart at 2:00PM, we went down to check out at 11:45AM to catch the 12:00PM shuttle (complimentary). Fortunately, we didn't park a car, because they were charging $20 for parking over 30 minutes. But back to the shuttle.

It arrived a few minutes before noon and let out the passengers who were coming to check in. We were the only ones taking the shuttle back to the airport, so we departed at 12:01PM and were at Terminal 1 getting dropped off by 12:10PM.

Overall, we had an OK stay at the Westin O'Hare. Given our $115 (+ tax) rate was comparable to a limited-service hotel, we thought we were getting a great deal, but it looked like it was priced appropriately given the inconvenience of the ongoing lobby construction and the lackluster service levels of the front desk staff. Yes, the possible upgrade to a suite was one of the reasons why we picked Westin over Aloft, but it definitely wasn't a full service experience. 

Honestly, if we weren't loyal to Starwood, I'd probably suggest my father book us at the higher end Intercontinental down the road for the same price as the Westin O'Hare.

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