Luxury boutique hotels really have the power to charm and enchant, as they’re intended to provide a more intimate and personalized experience than luxury chains. But the problem is that it’s usually a hit or miss. Some have literally gone above and beyond what you could possibly expect out of a luxury chain hotel, while others have, well, left a lot to be desired. On a recent trip to Chicago, from February 22-27, 2013, I was all booked for one of my favorite Chicago hotels, the Waldorf Astoria, when the opportunity to stay at a new luxury boutique hotel, the Talbott arose. Looking extensively at the reviews and photos online, I found nothing but 5-star reviews and numerous awards that it had received (including Best Stay in Chicago 2012 Awards by Orbitz), only increasing the sense of intrigue for me. Needless to say, I’m delighted I took the plunge.
Location: The location couldn’t be any better. It’s in the heart of the city in the upscale Gold Coast neighborhood on Delaware Street. It’s moments away from the shopping and food districts on Michigan Ave., Rush Street, and many of the other major boulevards of Chicago. Address: 20 East Delaware Place, Chicago, IL 60611 (talbotthotel.com)
-I really appreciated the attentive service I received from the front desk. Every time, I called room service for an extra blanket, water, or anything, I not only received my requests within minutes, but I also received follow up calls from the front desk to ensure my requests had been met and that I was satisfied with the service. Bravo.
-The concierge members were excellent. They were extremely helpful, fun-loving, and knowledgable. I spent a good 20 minutes just shooting the breeze with Gene, the concierge on the day I arrived and picking his brain about the best Chicago has to offer. My experience with the other concierge member, Tim was just as pleasant. I needed to book a car to head into the suburbs for work, and he took care of that for me with no problem and made sure the car arrived on time.
-There’s an adjoining bar/cafe with an entrance from the lobby of the hotel. The bar/cafe has a great ambiance and it’s perfect to meet up with friends or grab a quick bite.
-Check-in/check-out was a breeze and couldn’t have been any more painless.
-A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.
-My test for toiletries is whether I would buy the products on my own or not. The Talbott uses the luxe Molton Brown products, which definitely receives two thumbs up.
-The one-bedroom suite was very spacious and well-designed at 825 square feet. There were three big rooms: the bedroom, the living room/hallway, and the bathroom.
-I loved the vintage details with the quaintly elegant European decor, starting with the charming lobby.
-Fast, reliable complimentary WiFi. A must for me!
-The king-size bed was as comfortable as can be. Didn’t feel like peeling myself away from the luxurious goose-down comforter.
-Absolutely appreciated a separate bathtub and standing shower.
-They have a contract with the nearby Equinox facility, which is literally fitness heaven.
-State-of-the-art electronics with the Mac mini, iPhone dock, etc.
-I loved the wide variety of newspapers and magazines that were on offer. When I wanted the Economist or any other magazine, the Concierge didn’t even think twice about getting it and sending it up to my room.
-Communication via email before the stay and after the stay was slow and it took the manager a few days in between each email to get back to me.
-No active activity on social media.
-There were no water bottles in the room, though they were listed on the bar menu at $4. When I called up room service for water, they ended up bringing a complimentary pitcher of cold water with lemons, which worked out better for me anyway.
-As an avid tea drinker, I usually end my nights with a cup of chamomile tea. But I rarely pack it with me when I’m staying at hotels, as a case of tea bags is usually a standard amenity. While there was a coffeemaker in the room, there were no tea bags.
-Even from the 11th floor, there’s no real view.
-When you think of hotels having excellent service, it’s often the small details of feeling special and well-cared for that lend that feeling. A personalized welcome note upon arrival goes a long way, and would have been very much appreciated.
-The hair dryers were your old standard wall dryers that do nothing for your hair except make noise. Thankfully, I thought to bring my own hair dryer, but that is one amenity I expect not to have to pack.
-Breakfast was not included.