Tag: Hotel

Eating & Drinking At The Mall of America: The Hotel Bars Edition

If you don’t eat a piece of cheese from the sample table at Rybicki, you aren’t are a real Minnesotan.

Just kidding you still are.

Neither of us particularly enjoys shopping, but we love wandering the Mall of America. Each lap is supposedly a little over 1/2 a mile. We love walking with the mall walkers.

Six years ago (!!) I wrote a blog post called “My Short Guide To Cheap Mall Of America Food Dates.” This was back when we lived next to the Mall of America. Occasionally we’d pop over for weeknight snack and walk dates.

Many things have changed since we moved back home to the Twin Cites and while others are the same.

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Northern California Redwood Country: The Benbow Historic Inn

“Do you feel like you’re in a Bob Ross painting?” I asked Jake as he steered our vehicle up and down steep mountains thick with towering trees. “I feel like I’m trapped in a Bob Ross painting on drugs,” he replied, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles. “I bet the woods are full of bears, too,” he added as we passed a Rock Slide Area sign followed by another featuring a truck tumbling off the side of a mountain.

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Northern California Adventures: Two Days In Tahoe

The waters of Lake Tahoe are crystal clear and the sun beats over the mountains like a flaming, angry saucer.

Early in the morning, the sun rises over Lake Tahoe; it seems to rise much earlier than it does in the Midwest. Before seven a.m., the lake radiated so fiercely with white light that I had to look away.

For two Midwestern kids, the drive to Lake Tahoe felt nerve-wracking. We’re used to driving long, flat distances through corn fields on auto-drive, only pausing it to pass semis. You can’t do that here. The highway winds up through the mountains and around sharp curves hugging drop-offs that make your palms sweat.

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Notes Upon Staying At The Hotel Lincoln In Chicago

This post is not sponsored. We paid for our own accommodations at full-price. 

This beer with a view is the only photo I took during our two-night stay at Hotel Lincoln because I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post.

Now that I’m home, I’ll share my thoughts in case it helps someone with their trip planning. We’ve visited Chicago a few times together and Lincoln Park is an area we like to stay. It has an energetic neighborhood feel. DePaul University is also located in Lincoln Park which means there are plenty of boutiques, bars, and dining options in every price range. When we visited Chicago on our honeymoon, we stayed at a bed and breakfast called Villa D’Citta. This time Jake chose the lodging. He’s less of a bed and breakfast type of person and prefers hotels. Plus, a hotel was more conducive for our gathering with friends.

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I Wanna Eat Croissants In This Club: Sheraton Chicago Review

I was provided with a hotel stay at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.

We stayed at the Sheraton Chicago and spent a lot of time in their Club. Our clubbing experience mostly involved quietly drinking sodas and eating granola bars.

Sheraton provided our group with two rooms connected by a door, each with two queen beds and a bathroom and access to the Club Lounge, hence all of the club references.

We flew into the O’Hare airport and took the train to the hotel’s closest stop. From the train stop, we walked for about 10-15 minutes through downtown Chicago. Parking in Chicago can be difficult, especially in downtown Chicago. If you are driving to Chicago and want to stay in a downtown hotel, expect to budget anywhere from $40-$60 a day for parking. Really, it’s easiest not to have a car if you want to stay downtown. Our train tickets cost $5 from the airport to the hotel and about $2.50 vice versa. O’Hare and the train stop closest to the Sheridan are on opposite ends of the line, but it’s an easy 30-minute ride. There are lots of stops, but the ride goes by quickly. We noticed a lot of people carrying luggage through the downtown area, so don’t feel sheepish about doing so.

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The hotel is massive and the lobby is attractive. You’ll find many sitting areas, big glass containers of fruit-infused water, and flowers. At least two conferences occurred in the hotel during our stay.

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I’m one of those people who is OK with my own filth, but totally freaked out by other people’s. But in all honesty, I found the hotel to be very clean. Obviously, the hotel staff was aware they were hosting bloggers, but I didn’t notice anything untidy from the lobby bathroom to the elevators.

Here’s the view from our room:

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And glimpses of our bedrooms and bathrooms:

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Who doesn’t love artwork above the toilet?

As a word of caution, your hotel room may contain a motion-activated tray of tempting la cart snacks. This little jar of cookies was so cute that I grabbed it after noticing the sign that said guests are charged for snacks lifted from the tray. If you or your child accidentally picked up one of the snacks, you could try talking to the staff like we did. I’m sure this happens all of the time.

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We stayed at the Sheraton for one night. One of our trip coordinators has a connection with the hotel who surprised us with some evening snacks. I don’t turn down free champagne.

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We spent a lot of time in the Club Lounge located at the 33rd Floor.

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The Club Lounge is a beautiful space equipped with comfortable furniture, granola bars and fruit, chilled sodas and bottled water, wifi, pool tables, televisions, coffee and espresso. According to the website, the lounge also provides business travelers with meeting space and some office supplies. The view’s nice too.

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Guests with Club Lounge access are invited to enjoy a continental breakfast and evening appetizers. We caught the last half of the appetizer hour on Thursday evening and found chips and salsa, mini egg rolls, beef skewers, and cheese platters. I think guests can order beer, wine, and cocktails from the server for an additional charge. If you want to catch the food at its freshest from the kitchen, arrive near the beginning.

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The lounge breakfast included pastries, fruit, granola & greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, bagels (toaster provided), and a steaming kettle of hot oatmeal. I especially liked the coffee, yogurt and granola & mini croissants.

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I loved how these croissants tasted like real butter and had some lacquer on the outside. I’m experiencing croissant withdrawal and ate my fair share.

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Overall, I found breakfast thoughtful and adequate. If you have Club Lounge access, you’d be wise to grab breakfast here. The evening appetizers are pretty substantial and could provide a light meal.

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So how does one get Club Lounge access? It appears the Sheraton Chicago provides a lounge access upgrade with room reservations. I searched for reservations on a random June weeknight for a similar room with Club Lounge access and found it cost about $395 prepaid & $418/night with a flexible reservation. The Club Lounge access upgrade might cost about $44 more per day. This upgrade could be worth it for those sharing a room with at least one additional person who plan to take advantage of all of the food options, and business travelers. Starwood Preferred Guests also get free club access if they are platinum members (meaning they booked 25 stays in a calendar year).

Keep in mind that if you are not a Starwood Hotels & Resorts preferred guest, internet is not included in your room rate and will cost an extra $15-19 per day. As far as I can tell, you can receive the free internet as a preferred guest by registering online and booking your room through their website or app.

In conclusion, I enjoyed my stay at the Sheraton Chicago and can’t describe anything I didn’t like. Obviously, the hotel was expecting bloggers. The space was beautiful, staff greeted us warmly, and treated us to perks we weren’t expecting like Club Lounge Access and champagne.

The only drawbacks I can think to mention are that the trays of snacks in your room are motion-activated and that the hotel could be cost prohibitive to travelers who can’t or don’t wish to spend $300+ per night. Jake and I have found that hotels accessible to touristy areas of downtown Chicago (or any large city) provide smaller rooms, cost more per night, and don’t include as many amenities in their basic nightly rate. If you want to stay within walking distance of Navy Pier, Millennium Park and Michigan Ave, the reality is that you’re going to pay more for this convenience. Plus, there’s the whole cost to park your own car downtown. Expect to pay $60 a day for valet parking or at least $40 to self park in a downtown ramp. It’s really easier not to have a car if you are staying here. The public transportation to and from the airport is affordable and easy to navigate.

If the Sheraton Chicago is within your budget and you want to stay downtown, I feel confident telling you to go for it! If it’s not, there are lots of hotels and bed and breakfast in cool neighborhoods near the downtown area that provide good values and amenities, too.

Thank you to the staff at the Sheraton Chicago for hosting our group and giving us full access to the hotel’s amenities. 

© 2017 Jeni Eats

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