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EXECUTIVE TRAVEL : Zagat Survey: Chicago Hotels

September 01, 1993

The following reviews are excerpts from Zagat Surveys, a series of regional dining and lodging guides based on extensive ratings and reviews contributed by restaurant-goers and frequent travelers. Ratings of rooms, service, dining and public facilities are based on the following scale: 0-9 poor to fair; 10-19 good to very good; 20-25 very good to excellent; 26-30 extraordinary to perfect. Cost figure reflects surveyor's estimate of the rate for a double room for one night.

Best Overall

FOUR SEASONS 120 E. Delaware Place; (800) 332-3442;

(312) 280-8800

Generally considered the best in town, this postmodern North Michigan Avenue tower is built over the multilevel shopping mall that houses Bloomingdale's, Bendel's and various other luxury specialty stores. Some find the hunting-lodge-in-the-sky lobby a bit overdone, but the great location, elegantly appointed rooms, well-trained staff and Seasons, its fine restaurant, make it a winner for all seasons and reasons.

Rooms: 27 Service: 27 Dining: 26 Public Facilities: 26 Cost: $205

*RITZ-CARLTON 160 E. Pearson St.; (800) 621-6906; (312) 266-1000

Name notwithstanding, this Ritz is part of the Four Seasons chain. To many it represents the epitome of luxury and is just what a hotel should be, thanks to a $17-million renovation in 1991. It's also a shopper's paradise, being connected to the Water Tower Place Mall. Most reviewers are more than content with its superior service, incomparable ambience and fabulous dining at the Cafe and the Dining Room.

Rooms: 26 Service: 26 Dining: 25 Public Facilities: 25 Cost: $205

*HOTEL NIKKO 320 N. Dearborn Ave.; (800) NIKKO-US;

(312) 744-1900

Ascetic is one of the words used to describe this contemporary downtown hotel. Guests may find the minimalist gray-and-black decor dazzling, peaceful and spectacular, or simply cold and sterile, but virtually everyone agrees that exceptional thought went into this place--thought topped off with excellent service and great river views that make it worth every bit of the price.

Rooms: 24 Service: 24 Dining: 23 Public Facilities: 23 Cost: $167

*PARK HYATT 800 N. Michigan Ave.; (800) 233-1234;

(312) 280-2222

Overlooking the historic old Water Tower just off Michigan Avenue, this small, European-style hotel is a civilized refuge known for superior service and a top-notch French restaurant, La Tour. Despite high ratings, many feel the rooms are claustrophobic; insiders suggest a suite.

Rooms: 24 Service: 25 Dining: 24 Public Facilities: 22 Cost: $187

*

Best Value

SHERATON CHICAGO & TOWERS 301 E. North Water St.; (800) 325-3535;

(312) 464-1000

The new kid on the block is turning heads as an exciting addition to the skyline along the Chicago River and emerging River Walk district. Beautiful public areas, a friendly staff and spectacular views of the city and lake give this large, freshly minted convention hotel an old, established feel and an easy elegance.

Rooms: 23 Service: 22 Dining: 21 Public Facilities: 22 Cost: $145

*TALBOTT HOTEL 20 E. Delaware Place; (800) 621-8506;

(312) 944-4970

Just off the Magnificent Mile, this charming little Gold Coast hotel offers a pleasant if basic experience at relatively low prices for being in the center of the shopping and entertainment action. The simple, genteel service makes guests feel like they are in Europe instead of the Windy City.

Rooms: 18 Service: 19 Dining: 15 Public Facilities: 16 Cost: $115

*FORUM HOTEL CHICAGO 525 N. Michigan Ave.; (800) 628-2112;

(312) 944-0055

Most agree that while this North Michigan Avenue spot may be bland, it offers great value at a great location. Service and food can be uneven but are generally solid.

Rooms: 18 Service: 19 Dining: 17 Public Facilities: 18 Cost: $124

For more information or to participate in future surveys, call Zagat at (800) 333-3421.

Copyright 1993, Eugene H. Zagat Jr. and Nina S. Zagat.

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