For the layover in Chicago, I picked from the range of hotels near the airport for convenience. Most airport hotels in North America offers free shuttle service, something that offers easy accessibility and convenience for travellers. The fact that the Hyatt Regency O’Hare has just been recently refurbished and that I was able to get it on a cheap prepaid rate during a Hyatt Sale meant this was booked early on. The shuttle service was easy to get to from the airport and the driver was very helpful, as he also made sure I was bound for the right Hyatt since there are 2 Hyatts around O’Hare. The bell desk was helpful upon arrival into the hotel which is a short drive away from the airport.
I was ushered into the check-in desk on the second floor while the bellman took care of the luggage. The friendly check-in agent was great as it always is in most hotels. She noticed my new Diamond status and mentioned the benefits which included access to the Club Lounge on the same floor as the reception. I got a room on one of the higher floors but it was a bit of a trek from the reception desk. The room was nice and furnishings show it has been refurbished, though the bathroom is the usual like any other hotel elsewhere. And the hotel still had the awful White Ginger Portico amenities. Luckily I had brought my own shower amenities with me!
One thing that stood out in the room was the pack of antibacterial towelette that guests are provided with to wipe down the remote for the TV. This was a nice touch for guests that not many hotels do put the effort into anymore.
I checked out the evening snacks in the Lounge after checking in, and there was a couple of people in the lounge, though not crowded. It was a relatively small size for the large hotel. The quality of the food and beverages was not bad as far as lounges in America goes. The breakfast spread in the lounge was even better and definitely exceeds my expectations. The lounge attendant was one of the most enthusiastic I have seen and really geared towards hospitality like the check-in agent.
Since I had plans to head to town for dinner, I did not try out any of the lounge food. I did however use this time to get some beverage to refresh myself. On my return from the city, I had tried to enter the club lounge only to be rudely barked at by one of the bellman at the reception counter since he was close by the lounge. Fortunately the lounge agent was still inside and he allowed me to get another bottle of water. And even after all of that, there was no apology from that bellman. Was there even a need to be rude? Can’t you politely tell your guests that the club is closed?
The next day when I checked out, another bellman came over to pick up my luggage and I did mention I would be taking the shuttle to the airport. However instead of helping me to load the luggage to the van, he just stood by the entrance, and when he saw I had some tips in hand, he tried to claim them indicating it was he who brought the luggage down. Yes, I can see that, but you aren’t doing the whole act, and by being grumpy about it, I had half a mind of not giving any tips. I am a firm believer in being rewarded fairly for your contributions, and this was not it. However on the other hand, the bus driver was being very helpful and cheerful in helping guests with the luggage. All in all, this hotel is an excellent property only marred by the service quality of the people in the bell desk who should not even be in the hospitality line at all. It would be a hotel I would gladly stay again when I have no luggage with me so I have no encounters with the bell desk.
After reviewing the hotel, I should have to say I was also rewarded with excellent food at the Purple Pig in downtown Chicago along the Magnificent Mile. A friend had originally suggested an Italian restaurant close to where he used to stay but I think the restaurant had a change of management because it no longer goes by the same name. Thus I did a search on Yelp and picked upon the Purple Pig. It is a mediterranean bistro serving dishes made primarily from pork. One interesting note was the dishes were quite unique and they came in small portions allowing a solo diner to try up to 3 dishes.
It took me less than an hour to get to the restaurant from the Hyatt using the CTA blue line from Rosemont station. The day when I arrived, Chicago actually had much warmer weather than Vancouver and it was a pleasant 5 minute walk to the station. The restaurant itself was actually packed and it has an indoor seating area and an outdoor al-fresco seating that had lots of heaters. There was only a couple of empty table out front, so I took it and the servers quickly sprang into action laying out fresh cutleries and took my orders of water which came in a nice bottle. The service from the staff itself would be a good reason to eat here. She was also able to recommend some dishes and all the while being patient in understanding the diners’ requirements. In the end I ordered two dishes – fried pig’s ear and pork jowl. Out of these the one I found to be more amazing was the pig’s ear. I would classify the style of cooking here to be very fusion-like and they incorporate various new ingredients resulting in fresh flavours that I didn’t get elsewhere. They could also be comfort food as it was really cheers you up when you are travelling alone! The pig’s ear had a mix of flavours and the addition of kelp made the whole mix more palatable. Pickled peppers added the extra kick to the whole dish.
The second dish that arrived also had fried egg on the top and it was a dish that the server recommended. The pork jowl was really tender and very nicely done, and came in a small portion. It should be mentioned here that while the food came in small portion, the prices were reasonable, and as the server mentioned, the food was meant to be shared, and I would definitely be back here with a group of friends since I really would like to try some of the other dishes in their menu.
After the dinner, I took the opportunity to capture some night scenes along the Magnificent Mile which is still brightly lit with lights and the skyscrapers that Chicago is famous for along the riverfront.