Introduction: Post Valentine’s Day getaway
Amtrak Hiawatha Milwaukee Intermodal Station to Chicago Union Station
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Our cab dropped us off at the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria Chicago and we were greeted promptly by their doorman. I was asked if we needed any assistance with our bags however we were only traveling with one carryon thus no assistance was required. The door was opened for us and we were directed to the front desk. Once inside you are greeted by the absolutley stunning lobby. An amazingly high ceiling with beautiful chandelier and two of the most unique statues staring at guests as they enter. They appear to be greek-like, wax heads and are most interesting!
There were two guests checking out when we arrived so we had a short wait to check-in. We were greeted and handled by a great check-in agent named Martin. He confirmed our details and I asked politely if there is a possibility of a an upgraded room. He mentioned that I was confirmed for a handicap accessible room but mentioned I am a Hilton gold member and he would see what he could do for us. I also added our first stay here a few years ago was lovely as we had a suite we adored. He was able to confirm us up to a Waldorf Suite which was most appreciated! Martin did mention our suite wasn’t quite ready but should be within 1-2 hours. He confirmed my phone number and said he could call us back when the room was ready for us. I mentioned my wife and I would be having lunch at the property at Balsan so we should be close by. Martin said he would be happy to deliver the room key to us at Balsan (which is located on the 2nd floor) and our bags would be waiting in our room as well. An impeccable check-in experience provided by Martin.
Waldorf Astoria Chicago lobby
We took the elevators up to Balsan and were seated promptly. When we initially arrived the venue was about 50% full. We were quite excited to eat here as when we initially had lunch at Balsan in 2010 (the hotel was then named the Elysian) it was one of the most memorable lunch experiences we ever had. Balsan is a charming and inviting atmosphere for diners and is a bit intimate as well. Our server was polite and prompt and was happy to make recommendations.
For drinks my wife started with a virgin Bloody Mary and I tried Hemingway punch. Later I moved to the Thienot Rose’ which was quite good. And I finally switched up my selection to the quite crisp Thienot Brut which I also found good. The bar has quite the selection of cocktails which were quite tempting as well.
We chose to split the taste flambé which was an excellent selection! Very good dish and we would both recommend it.
I had the breakfast sandwich for my primary meal served with potatoes. I found the dish quite satisfying but not as memorable as my lunch a few years ago. My wife went with the french dip which she enjoyed and shared a bit with me and I agreed it was a very tasty choice. I wish I had chosen the french dip instead.
Midway through our lunch Martin dropped by our table to hand deliver our room key and let us know that our suite was indeed ready for us at our leisure. He wished us a good afternoon, and hoped we were enjoying our lunch before bidding us farewell and leaving the keys with me.
In summary Balsan is quite a enjoyable destination amongst many, many food and cocktail choices in the Chicagoland area. If you are in the area I would recommend it and be confident you will have an enjoyable dining experience.
Waldorf Astoria Chicago also has Bernard’s Bar which was closed during our visit on Sunday and we never made it around to Bernard’s the following day but hear it is a quite happening place afterwork during the week.
After lunch we made our way up to our suite on the 16th floor. I even liked the chandelier type lighting that runs through the hallway, very elegant and classy in my eyes.
Waldorf Astoria Chicago 16th floor hallway
Waldorf King Suite
Our suite (room 1601) was top notch as we were expecting! The room is situated all the way wrapped around at the end of the hallway. Perhaps the aesthetics of the property sit so well with us because it is exactly my wife and I’s type of style-white moulding with neutral grey tones and very luxurious marble touches with dark wood compliments.
As you enter the room you are greeted with some wall art and then over through the hallway is the wet bar area. A very large and well equipped wet bar area is the perfect place to mix a cocktail.
Mirroring the wet bar is a large closet stocked with additional pillow options and an umbrella.
The private bar (minbar) had a good, solid selection of snacks and beverages. Most everyone would enjoy the selection.
As you enter the room you are first to run into the living room or parlor as they call it. What a nice space! Flat screen set into the wall which is right above the gas fireplace. Yes! A gas fireplace in your room that can be flicked on with a switch and immediately feel the heat and warmth surround us. There is also a couch with coffee table and and two additional chairs flanking the fireplace. Another wonderful feature of our suite was the outdoor terrace with views of downtown Chicago. Sadly it was quite cold and snowy during our visit so we didn’t venture outside to use the terrace.
Through the parlor is the entrance to the bedroom area. The room has almost floor to ceiling windows letting lots of natural light into the room. The room is quite classy and sleek. It also comes with top notch audio equipment as the room was equipped with a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin iPod/iPhone dock which has superb sound quality and can fill up a bedroom with audiophile quality.
Our bed was extremely comfortable and the pillows were perfect. A very relaxing and plush bed. The room also has a nice chaise lounge placed in front of the windows in case you wanted to chill out and look at the views of downtown Chicago.
The bedroom and the parlor are a generous size and that trend continues with the bathrooms at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago.
Leading from the bedroom to the bathroom is a hallway with full length mirror and a large built in wardrobe and drawers. Very sleek with dark wood and marble. You would be hard pressed to run out of storage space in the Waldorf Suite as the closet is large and the bedroom also has a dresser with many drawers. Even the longest of stays will fit all of your belongings at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago.
Perhaps the highlight of the room is the super luxe bathroom! Dual vanities and separate shower and tub are mandatory at a luxury hotel and the Waldorf checks those boxes obviously. Along with heaping slabs of beautifully detailed marble tile.
One of the mirrors also houses a built in TV which came in handy while soaking in the large tub. I had plenty of room in the tub at 6ft+ and it was very comfortable.
A nice detail is the water closet is separated a frosted glass door thus not having to see the actual toilet unless needed. The shower follows the same treatment directly next to the water closet. The bathroom floor has a neat marble tile mosaic in the center and those are the decor details that propel this property from good to great.
Water pressure is good and the Waldorf Astoria Chicago provides high end bath amenities by Salvatore Ferragamo. One negative would be that the shower doesn’t offer a rainfall water showerhead. The shower is dripping in long marble subway tile which suites my style personally. The bathroom is super spacious and two people getting ready at the same time should be fluid and unbothered by the other. The room in total appears to be roughly 800+ square feet which is spacious!
As usual in my luxury hotel reviews, below you will find a full walkthrough of our Waldorf King Suite at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago:
We spent a good amount of time in our suite reading, eating, relaxing and enjoying each others company while the cold and snowy Chicago day passed us by.
Spa, Fitness Center and Pool
The Waldorf Astoria is also quite famous for its spa, The Elysian spa. This is a favorite of many Chicagoans and visitors alike. The spa has won numerous award and accolades. In fact it was named the number 1 spa in the US by Conde Nast Traveler readers in 2014. The decor again here is a winner in our book. As you can’t help to notice the floor to ceiling mosaic on one of the walls. We didn’t have a treatment on this visit (as my wife wanted to allocate more money to shopping) but the spa was quite well visited during my stop in. The spa is open from 8am-9pm Monday through Saturday and 8am-8pm on Sundays.
There is a connecting hallway leading to the fitness center which is decent sized and had every bit of equipment one would need for a vigorous workout. The hotel also offers a unique gyrotonic and Pilates studio with equipment looking like it could be used for torture techniques! I have yet to try the studio but it is a nice feature for the health conscious.
The gym came stocked with plenty of gym towels and complimentary water. Even mini lockers right in the gym to store your stuff.
The hotel also has an attractive pool on offer which is open 6am-10pm Monday through Saturday and 6am-9pm on Sunday. During my visit a family was having playtime with a child. There were plenty of chairs for how big the space is. The pool is not very wide but long enough to swim laps if there are no other pool patrons.
We did order dinner via room service on Sunday night. I went with a pizza and a smoothie and my wife just wanted some chicken noodle soup and olives (I admit, odd combination). I must admit the room service selections could offer more of a variety. We felt somewhat limited by the options. However the food quality was very good and we enjoyed our selections.
Service was good and they food was delivered in a timely fashion as promised when ordering. The hotel personnel that delivered the food was courteous and set up the food as we wished.
In the morning I also ordered a bowl of oatmeal which was great. I do wish the Waldorf Astoria brand would provide complimentary breakfast for its gold and diamond members the same way the Conrad brand does but alas we paid for breakfast.
After checking out of the hotel on Monday afternoon we had reservations at Seinna Tavern which is about 1 mile away from the hotel. The bellman asked our destination and if we needed a taxi. He said that the hotel car is available currently and they would be happy to take us to our lunch reservation! Up pulled around a new Mercedes 550 if I recall correctly. The driver plugged in our destination and we were there in about 6-7 minutes at the most. A very nice comfortable ride that saved us a $7 cab fare.
We had an outstanding stay and enjoyed our time immensely at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. We have a wedding to attend this summer in Chicago and if the date is available on points we will certainly be looking at visiting the property again! Our first stay back in 2010 was a cash stay at over $400/night and it was well worth it. This remains our all-time favorite city hotel of all the luxury city properties that we have visited. And the property has in fact won that same award via Conde Nast Travelers readers choice award on a few occasions in the past so I know we are not alone in our love for the Waldorf Astoria Chicago.
We put our Hilton points to good use here to make our room rate much more affordable. I jumped at the chance to be able to book Hilton’s “points and money” reward option in which I used some cash and some points in a combination to reserve our room. See the full details below!
Bottom line here is we paid $174.60 out of pocket for a Waldorf King Suite at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago where the best available rate was $424.86 with taxes through Hilton’s website. Our 32,000 Hilton Honors points saved $250.26 which is a good value redemption for Hilton points! I obtain my Hilton points through my Citi Hilton Honors Reserve credit card and I also have the Hilton Surpass American Express card (which is barely used). Let me know if you have any comments or questions about the property!