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REVIEW: Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare

Considering the name of this website, it might be a little surprising to see a hotel review being posted that's located less than a twenty minute drive from my front door. But guess what folks? It's happening!

You might be asking yourself why I found myself in this situation. And the truthful answer is that sometimes you get a little crazy from being up too late a month before a trip and think to yourself, "Ya know, waking up early to catch a flight seems tedious, why don't I pay cash for a hotel at the airport to save myself 20 minutes." And since you're doing this all in your head and not out loud not a soul in the world can hear you being an idiot and cry out, "Don't do that dumb ass."

$110, a 5 minute spin on Hotwire, and a lack of any semblance of reason was all it took for me to lock into my plan. Intercontinental, here I come! I of course came to my sense the next day but the deed had been done and I was locked into my stay. Might as well make the most of it and enjoy the stay I thought to myself, and that's also what I said to my partner as he drove me out to the hotel the night before my trip while serving up a healthy helping of side eye the entire way.

Luckily, after seven years together I'm impervious to his annoyance!

Exiting our trusty Honda Fit by essentially tucking and rolling as my partner did a drive-by through the hotel's front entrance, I walked into a very open, airy lobby. It was already pretty late at night (10PM) and despite having quite a few chairs and seats set up the lobby was completely deserted. Warm, light colored wood was set against beige and white walls to create a welcoming, almost Scandinavian feel. Dangling lantern-style lights lined the windows in front of the hotel while eclectic photography and art were added for flair.

I walked up to the check-in desk which featured Mac products in a neat little line. The majority of the wall space behind the counter was taken up by a large painting depicting a massive blue sky with a few puffy white clouds and a small bi-plane. I'm not sure why I loved it but it's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this hotel. I really love when hotels incorporate artwork that speaks to it's identity and this little mural was a cute touch that fit right into the spirit of an airport hotel.

There was no one at the front desk when I walked up but within a few minutes someone appeared from behind a door and gave a bit of a double take upon seeing me there. As an airport hotel most guests are coming in on the shuttle so I'm guessing the agent wasn't expecting anyone to be there waiting to check-in outside of the shuttle's schedule. Despite being surprised she was very friendly and made sure to get me checked in with a room key quickly. She asked me if I wanted an explanation of the hotel's services and amenities and I told her that I would just be sleeping and hopping on the shuttle the next morning, so no need to give me the spiel. I appreciate when agents ask if you want to hear more about the hotel, as too often they just go into a lengthy discussion about the hotel and in many cases I'd rather just be on my way to my room because I have zero interest in dry cleaning or happy hour at the bar since I don't drink.

I was given a room on the eleventh floor so quickly hopped into the elevator and then headed down the well lit hallway.

(Sidebar: Who's designing all these hotel hallway carpets? Someone who loves math because every hotel seems to have some weird geometric patterns snaking across its narrow hallways.)

I stepped into the room to find it was carpeted from wall to wall in a plusher option than one typically finds in a hotel. To my left was an enclosed closet along with a dresser. An open space above the closet featured a bag with additional blankets and pillows. On top of the dresser was a wooden basket filled with amenities one might find themselves needing when on a fancy business trip, such shoe shine materials or fuzzy bath slippers. Nice touches, but outside of my wheelhouse.

Next to the dresser was a full length mirror and a leather upholstered bench upon which I set my luggage. Above the bench was a cute, metallic bar with three birds statues sitting on it. Directly above those birds was another bird statue gazing down upon them from a high wooden shelf.

These birds, along with the whimsical art behind the desk at check-in, really highlight how the hotel is playfully nodding toward the concept of "flying" as a theme.

To the right of the entrance was a rail car door with frosted glass indicating the entrance to the bathroom. This tickled me quite nicely because if you've read a few of my other hotel reviews you would know that rail car doors in general get me about as excited as a one on one free pizza party at Jake Gyllenhaal's all-nude beach house.

Inside the bathroom to the right of the door was a toilet and towel rack.

Next to the toilet was a large, spacious shower stall with a rain shower head. The two things I look for in a hotel shower are strong pressure and high temperature, and the Intercontinental O'Hare had both of those in spades.

Of course the bathroom also had a vanity area with a rather stylish yet awkward sink basin. The hairdryer was hung from the wall in a cloth bag and the mirror was sent into a tiled wall. All of this was illuminated with a single light that was rather impractical unless you used it in conjunction with other lights elsewhere in the area to increase the illumination. It was definitely very pretty, though not really all that practical.

Bath products were Agraria brand, lemon verbena scented.

The only other thing of note inside the bathroom was a wooden bench you could use when toweling yourself off. Or maybe just lay out and air drying?

In the main area of the room the bed was immediately to the right. A platform bed with a rather bulky headboard built around it featured prominently, beige and white being the overwhelming color scheme. The bed itself was a bit firmer than most American hotel beds, but not so firm that it felt uncomfortable like some beds in Asian hotel. The headboard had two nightstands built into it, upon which the standard phone/alarm clock/pad of paper were found. Each nightstand had a panel which you could lift and find two outlets for charging electronics.

While the platform bed looked nice and was pretty comfortable, be careful when you're wandering through the room at night because the edges of the platform are pretty sharp. I ended up gashing my toe open when I rounded the corner of the bed that night before sleeping. Yes, I was clumsy but the edge was indeed surprisingly sharp for something at foot level.

Across from the bed was the television and desk. A grey leather office chair was combined with more light-colored wood. A flat screen television took up about 50% of the tabletop space of the desk. Complimentary water bottles and another panel with recessed chargers were available. A minibar, of the ridiculously-overpriced-beyond-belief variety, was in a cabinet below the television.

A full sized couch lined the area under the window at the far end of the room. This was an super comfortable, plush piece of furniture that I kind of wish I had more time to enjoy. I lounged around on it for a bit that evening but of course I was there pretty much to sleep, shower, and head to the airport so sadly it was only lightly used. The three small tables in front of the couch were a nice stylistic touch but were, like the odd bathroom vanity area, not particularly useful.

Randomly slipped into a corner between the bed's headboard and the couch was a rather awkward, unnecessary chair. A little bit of quirky art dotted the wall by the couch, a cartoon piece with red birds and cats in a tree.

The next morning I showered and dressed in less than 30 minutes and hopped down to the lobby onto a waiting shuttle to the airport. Unlike many other airport shuttles I've seen at airport hotels, this one had nice seats and was a bit more spacious. Intercontinental is a higher end brand, generally speaking, and that really came through throughout the stay and even on the shuttle.

Despite a few instances where I felt the room as a bit "style over substance", I was really impressed with the Intercontinental O'Hare. The room was quite comfortable and overall was much nicer than almost any airport hotel I've ever stayed at, and many non-airport properties to be honest. It came across as cozy, if that's believable? I had limited interactions with staff but the ones I did have were always professional and friendly. The hotel itself is located in the same general area as quite a few other airport properties so the distance to and from O'Hare is reasonable.

I generally end my reviews by saying whether I would, all things considered, stay at a property again in the future. That's rather silly in this instance because unless I relocate the chances of me staying at this hotel again are zilch. But let's stay in the realm of hypothetical and allow me to say, yes ma'am, I would definitely consider the Intercontinental O'Hare again in the future. An excellent choice when stopping over in the Windy City.


Country Count: 70/193

Hello! I'm David - world traveler, food aficionado, gay dude, and storyteller.  This is where I share amazing sights, delicious dishes, LGBT travel advice, & my favorite stories!


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