Hotel Review: Le Méridien Chicago Oakbrook Center Part I

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Starwood’s Le Méridien brand of hotels was initially started by Air France so their customers had a home away from home when traveling. With just 13 properties in the US, the brand isn’t as generally well know as others.  It is growing though, and there are four more properties slated for opening in the US in the next few years.

The Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center started out as a Stouffers hotel in the 60’s and later became a Renaissance hotel for several decades.

After a complete refurbishment, the property opened July 31, 2014. Located in a suburb of Chicago, it is close to many businesses and restaurants. A shopping mall is also just across the parking lot. This review is a first look at the property.

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A reasonable height, it doesn’t overshadow the nearby buildings either.

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Arriving at the hotel in the early evening, I could see that the parking lot was already getting busy since it shares common parking with the mall and restaurants too. The hotel has a row of spots set aside, but they were all taken. Valet would have been happy to park for me, but I found a spot not too far away.

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Walking over to reception I passed by “The Hub” which is Le Meridien’s space for meeting and mingling.

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An urban-inspired full floor to ceiling mural had been painted on one wall by a graffiti artist from the 70’s, Justus Roe. The newly refurbished property smelled clean and fresh, and the large windows made the space feel large.

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Oddly enough, their information screen seemed to have reset itself to a chilly January 1 date and time.

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Reception was friendly and warm, and when she saw I had SPG Platinum status she apologized that the suites were not yet open for stays. Even when they do open, there will only be 7 in the hotel so snagging one may be tough with a high number of Platinum status guests in the Chicago area. I was fine with a regular room, so I just asked if there was a corner one available preferably without a connecting door because I like as quiet a room as possible. I was assigned a “Deluxe Guest Room” (with about 330 square feet) on the 6th floor and headed up.

Once I got off the elevator, I expected my room to be the last one at the end of the hall and was surprised to see that my room was actually right there. By the elevators. I decided to stay for a bit to see if perhaps the elevator noise wasn’t noticeable from within.

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My first impression of the room, was that it was bright and clean.

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Modern and comfortable, there was a full wall of floor to ceiling windows.

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Artwork was placed behind the bed, and there were bedside reading lights.

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There was a 46″ flat screen TV LCD, and I can’t think of another hotel that has such a large TV in regular guest rooms.

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A bright lamp and chair completed the desk area.

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By the bed I found an iHome docking station, along with a free bottle of water. Since there were no outlets on the wall near the bed I ended up unplugging the iHome and using the outlet for device charging which was convenient (though not for housekeeping since my guess is that every guest will do the same).

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Just under the desk I was pleased to see an Illy coffee machine, with cups, capsules, and creamer.

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There was a minibar stocked full of alcohol and juices.

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There were also some assorted snack options, though my hunger for chocolate would have to be quite high to pay $9 for a container of snickers when the mall was just across the parking lot.

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A nice touch in the room was a recycle bin tucked under the desk. Convenient and forward-thinking.

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There was also a small couch near the windows.

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The view from the window was of the parking lot, but since there are no tall buildings on any side of this hotel there are no views of walls!

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The bathroom sink basin was large, but there was barely any room on the counter for my toiletries. No hand towel was hung on the wall either, though there were clean ones just underneath the counter.

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The mirror was backlit.

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There was a Le Meridien soap and lotion.

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The walk in shower had great water pressure and the temperature was able to be set just where I wanted. I get annoyed when the shower is just a bit too cold or just a bit too hot, and cannot be adjusted to that perfect temperature in between.

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The shower doors rolled open and closed. Since the hotel was new, whenever I shut my shower door it popped open again a few inches which meant water sprayed out. I told the hotel about it during check-out so someone could fix it for future guests.

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The closet was small and had no doors, but had a robe, suitcase rack and hangers.

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After unpacking, I went up to the 9th floor for a quick workout.

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Returning back to my room, I saw that there was a nod to Chicago on the floor, with a carpet pattern meant to represent train tracks.

I also realized that the hallways seemed really dark. There were lights positioned every so often to light the way, but the carpeting was dark, and the walls looked much darker than in this photo.

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Back in the room I realized that not only could I hear a loud “Ping!” noise from the elevator, I could also hear the elevator sliding up and down as well. I called down to reception, and they were quickly able to move to me a different room. This one was at the end of the hall towards the mall. The rooms were very similar with just an extra chair in this one, near the window.

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The view looked out over tops of the mall buildings. I was disappointed to hear a constant mechanical sound which I surmised came from the rooftop of the Cheesecake factory next door. For a single night stay it was ok, but if I was to stay at this hotel again I would ask for a room at the opposite end of the hotel.

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I went to go check out the Club Lounge on the 9th floor. When getting off the elevator, you actually have to go through the restaurant (El Tapeo) to get to the Club Lounge door.

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The original hotel pillars were preserved and are encased in glass.

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Notice anything missing from the picture below? They are still doing updates to the bar, which includes a wall of alcohol.

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Not a big deal when I was there, but during a busy dinner hour it might be a bit awkward to pass through the dining room in casual shorts and shirt just to get a water or snack to take back to the room.

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Entering the club lounge with my key I could see that it was bright and had lots of windows.

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There was plenty of seating, and since access can be purchased for $40 per night, the lounge attendant said it is a popular place for people to hang out.

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There was a good selection of drinks, and snacks. Alcohol is available for purchase.

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The hot lounge item while I was there was beef tortellini.

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There was a nice selection of hummus, olives, cheeses, jellies, and nuts.

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The lounge attendant Misael was personable and knowledgeable, two things that make a lounge more than just a place to grab a bite to eat.

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I slept well, and in the morning I went back to the Club Lounge for breakfast. There were bagels & breads.

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Cereals and fresh fruit were laid out.

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There were slices of fresh fruit too, and carafes of juice.

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The windows had shades that could be easily brought down to block out any unwanted light.

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I told the lounge attendant that I was in a hurry, and he offered to wrap up a breakfast sandwich to go. It was hot and tasty, with eggs and some vegetables.

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On my way out of the hotel, I passed by the restaurant on the first floor where breakfast was also available for a fee.

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Stay tuned for Part II of the review, which includes a first look at the conference rooms and suites.

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