It’s generally difficult for me to pick an airport hotel. The number of options, especially at large airports, leaves me comparing numerous cash and award rates. It’s always a game to find the best value stay. My least favorite airport for which to figure out lodging is SFO(due to cost), but luckily one strategy always seems to work out best. Luckily, we had to stay near ORD this trip. I settled on the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare for a one night stay. 

The primary complicating factor for this trip was my desire to complete an IHG promotion. I needed a single stay to do so. I dislike paying cash, but when you can earn a significant number of points, it can be worth it. The cash rate plus breakfast (just $6 more) wasn’t too unreasonable at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare: $151 after taxes. I would net over 20,000 IHG points. 

The other side of the coin was that I was forgoing some other easy options, including an award night at the Hyatt Regency (getting me closer to my Globalist goal), or the on-airport Hilton ORD. The latter was very reasonable for either cash or points. But the siren call of earning $120 of IHG points was irresistible.

Arriving at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare

We arrived on a late United flight into O’Hare from Los Angeles. This was the primary reason I wanted an airport hotel for our first night in Chicago. Taking the Blue Line to downtown at 11:00 PM wasn’t a fun idea.

We did have to catch a shuttle. To catch the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare airport shuttle (from all but T5), you’ll need to head to the centralized bus and shuttle stop. This is opposite the Hilton airport hotel. Wait at door number 2. The shuttle leaves the hotel on the hour and half hour bound for O’Hare. As always, I felt like every other shuttle came twice before ours arrived. 

We arrived to a quiet hotel lobby, which was expected, considering that it was nearly midnight. Check-in was easy and painless. I received 600 IHG points as the Platinum member welcome amenity, which is the typical number for a Crowne Plaza stay. 

Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare lobby

King Room

There are so many things I could say about being given room 1337. I guess this is the ultimate way of recognizing a guest’s elite status?

I’d booked a king room, as this was the cheapest, and the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare was unable to provide one with two queen beds. Given that there was a convention at the hotel, my guess was that there weren’t any available (although it wasn’t very clear what the reason was).

Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare bed

No matter, there was still a sofa bed. A housekeeping staff arrived shortly after we got to our room to convert it into a bed with sheets, blanket and extra pillows. My son protested (as he always does) about sleeping on the sofa bed. For my part, I like to sleep soundly, free of being kicked.

Standard king rooms also have a Keurig coffee maker, which it about the only time I prefer a Keurig. I’m not keen on them in general. So much plastic waste. But it’s nice for hotels, though, to keep things individually wrapped. Other coffee makers have similar packaging anyway.

The bathroom is small, but nice. A lot of narrow counter space. Our bathroom had a tub/shower combo.

It was in the shower that I found a nice repair job. Tape wasn’t exactly stopping the leaky shower head. The dripping wasn’t a big deal, though.

There wasn’t any airport noise late that night when we were falling asleep, but it began in earnest really early in the morning. The noise is quite noticeable from the Crowne Plaza, although the relative impact likely depends on the air traffic pattern. Jets were taking off and passing a reasonably close distance outside our window. I slept well from about midnight to five, after which I struggled due to the aircraft noise. The view itself is of a parking garage. 

Here’s the room in the morning, with the sofa bed set up. Overall, our room at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare was nice, and in line with what I’ve come to expect from the brand (this was my 4th Crowne Plaza stay).

Breakfast

The hotel Chicago Fire Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is open weekdays from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and then reopens at 5:00 PM for dinner. Since I’d booked a rate that included breakfast, we were given vouchers to use in the morning.

The buffet breakfast at the Chicago Fire Oven Restaurant costs $17.95 per person. There is no kids price from what I saw. Fortunately, breakfast cost was around $6 for both of us, rolled into the room rate. Excellent package deal. Sometimes the breakfast rate isn’t much better than paying for it outright, and I rarely find hotel breakfast pricing to be a good deal. 

You can also order from an a la carte menu, if desired. But our only option was the buffet, since that is what the hotel includes. Of note, the restaurant ceiling had a leak, which affected two of the tables a short distance from us.

The buffet options included: bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, French toast, fruit, yogurt, cereal and oatmeal. Not a bad buffet, but definitely not a breakfast worth $18 per person. For effectively $3 per person, it was great. 

Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare breakfast

There is also a grab-and-go shop offering coffee and pastries. 

Other Thoughts

We didn’t have a chance to jump in the pool or enjoy any of the other facilities. Like almost every airport stay, it was basically a bed to sleep in before we either a) left for the airport, or b) left via car/bus/train/metro for somewhere else. In this case, it was the latter. We walked the distance to the Rosemont “L” train stop and headed downtown. 

The Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare has a conference center as well. There is a gigantic convention center across the street, too. There was an anime conference in town during our stay, and many folks at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare were attending from what I noticed. 

The hotel also offers a Green Choice program where you earn 500 points per night for skipping housekeeping. But you must be staying more than one night to use it. 

Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare exterior

Conclusion

Overall, the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare is a bit dated and tired, like some Holiday Inns, but it isn’t a bad pick, especially if the rate is good. I’d happily stay here for $100 per night. The rooms are comfortable, and my only real complaint is the aircraft noise. Earplugs are a must, if airport traffic patterns send jets past the hotel all night. In any case, spending $150 to get $120+ worth of IHG points for the stay was totally worth it.