Quirky Loop boutique bargain
Written: Oct 30, 2001
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Good value, funky decor, Loop location, surprisingly quiet at night
Cons:Energy usage and phone charges, small rooms, some might find it too "decorated"
The Bottom Line: Uniquely decorated, reasonably priced boutique hotel in central Loop location
Because I have family I could be staying with when I visit Chicago, I feel weird about spending a lot of money for lodging there -- quite irrationally, since I'd much rather stay in a hotel than someone's guestroom, but somehow it seems like a not totally necessary expense. Until recently I salved my pennypinching conscience by patronizing the well-located but generic Best Western River North, which is consistently one of the cheapest decent city hotels at about $140 a night -- but after a sojourn at the Hotel Allegro, I have a new favorite perch in Chicago which is about the same price and way more stylish.
The Hotel Allegro is located in the western part of the Loop, next to the Wells street El tracks. I'm not sure I would recommend that someone who doesn't know Chicago stay at this location, because there isn't a lot of social action in the immediate area at night. Truth be told, this part of the Loop is almost deserted after 7 or so, and might seem intimidating to those who aren't comfortable in the inner city -- it's not very dangerous, but it's dark and lonely and somewhat disorienting. But for those who already know exactly how to get where they want to go in Chicago, the Allegro is within a few blocks of all the El lines, the opera and symphony and Art Institute, the downtown theaters, Marshall Field's, and the hip River West bars and restaurants -- and of course you can always get a cab in the Loop to anywhere. The hotel's immediate area also turns out to be surprisingly quiet at night -- great for sleeping without disturbance.
If you come from O'Hare on the Blue Line El, the Allegro is a block south of the Lake Street stop; if you drive in, there's a parking garage on Wells around the corner with a $20/day rate for hotel guests (it has a big blue sign; if in doubt about the location, pull up and ask the hotel doorman) or valet parking. The hotel is not at all stylish from the outside or on the ground level -- but don't be discouraged. Persist to the lobby, where you will be greeted by wood panelling, Chinese red chaises and royal blue ottomans, and flowers. Check-in is brisk, although the staff members didn't volunteer any information that we didn't specifically ask about. I've read that the hotel hosts a wine hour every evening, but we checked in too late to partake.
We had an ordinary double room on the Randolph side of the building. These rooms have coral-colored wallpaper, gold and nile-green bedding, and cream and chocolate window treatments. But in your astonishment at the decor, don't neglect to note the functional touches: the windows behind the "I Dream of Jeannie" curtains are double-paned and soundproof, the bed features a down duvet rather than the average nasty bedspread, and various amenities (coffeemaker, fax machine, minibar) are tucked neatly into a cupboard. The pink-tiled bathroom offers Aveda products and good water pressure. The room is only big enough for a bed, a small desk, a large cupboard, and a couple of chairs -- you won't be throwing parties or doing aerobics in there -- but we didn't hang around our room long enough to care. The size and decor of the rooms make me think this would not be a good business-traveller's hotel -- although the suites might be OK for road warriors looking for something different.
Although this practice is not at all limited to the Allegro, I dislike the various small but mandatory charges imposed by boutique hotels in particular. There's a $3.50 "energy usage" charge tacked onto your bill; and I've read that this hotel also adds a 75-cent unlimited local phone charge, although I don't think I was hit up for that (possibly because we didn't use the phone). Personally, it's easier and usually cheaper for me to use my cellphone everywhere I go. I didn't make use of any hotel amenities or services during this stay at the Allegro -- the bar and restaurant (very popular, from the sound of them), the fitness center, the concierge, etc. -- but I'll check them out next time and try to update this Epinion.
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