After considering a wide variety of factors, I decided to spend this visit to Chicago in the Comfort Suites O'Hare.
(One of the factors is that the hotel I stayed in last time has apparently been kicked out of the Holiday Inn family or something. I tried to get a reservation there via the Holiday Inn phone number, and was told that the hotel formerly at that address was no longer a Holiday Inn. They didn't say whether it was still a hotel or not.)
Unfortunately, the Comfort Suites is not really what I was hoping for.
The following description is primarily for my own benefit, so that next time I'm looking for a Chicago-area hotel, I'll remember what I did and didn't like about this one.
On the plus side, it's got a small refrigerator and a microwave in the room, which makes dealing with food much much easier. I would gladly pay a little extra, in most contexts, for a hotel room with those amenities.
Also mostly on the plus side, it has free wired and wireless Internet. Until tonight, I've been very happy with both. Sadly, just as I sat down to write this entry, I lost all Internet access, at just about exactly midnight between April 30 and May 1. After several attempts at troubleshooting, and waiting a while to see if it would come back, I called tech support; the smart and friendly woman I spoke with did some troubleshooting at her end and determined that the ISP's server was down. So I can't give 10 out of 10 for the Internet service. But still pretty good, all in all, and service was restored within an hour.
Unfortunately, the wired Internet connection is via a short Ethernet cable on a desk that's too high. So if I want to use the wired connection, I have to sit at the desk in either of the two chairs provided, which is a very non-ergonomic setup. Perhaps tomorrow I'll swap out their Ethernet cable for the longer one I brought, and work with the computer on my lap.
One of the two chairs, btw, is semi-broken; the back isn't firmly attached. If I needed it, I would ask the hotel to replace it, but I really only need one chair so I haven't bothered.
The desk is also poorly lit. If I turn on both lamps in the room, and the much brighter fluorescent light around the corner, it's more or less enough light, but still not really as bright as I would like. The incandescent bulbs in the room with the desk claim to be 100W bulbs, but the amount of light they put out looks to me more like what I expect from a 60W bulb.
As suggested by the name "Suites," I do have two rooms, but they're also not really what I was expecting; both rooms are smallish and kind of cramped-feeling, much smaller than the suites (or even the "junior suites") where parties at sf conventions are often held. It seems silly to complain about this, as even a non-suite room would be plenty big enough for me; but it adds to my general sense that the hotel isn't really as classy as I had been hoping based on the online description.
It does provide free breakfast downstairs every morning, so that's nice. (The breakfast is okay: mediocre bagels, white-bread toast, okay muffins, various cereals, eggs and sausage, juice, yogurt, that kind of thing. Much the same breakfast, actually, as at the otherwise far superior Larkspur Landing.) I haven't ordered from room service, but it appears that room service is supplied by the sports bar that's just off the lobby; efficient, but it again feels a little cheap somehow.
The water in the room tastes terrible, but that's standard for hotels--heavily chlorinated, I think. Near the elevator, there's a little alcove containing a single beverage vending machine; I bought a bottle of Dasani water there the other night, only to discover that for $1.25, you get a tiny little 10-oz bottle (half the volume of a normal water bottle). I've taken to refilling my water bottles in the drinking fountain off the hotel lobby.
It seems to me that more and more hotels these days are offering the option of not changing the linens and towels every day, to save water. I always try to use that option when it's available, though sometimes housekeeping ignores my request. Here, the option isn't explicitly provided, and it's hard to indicate to housekeeping that (for example) I don't want them to give me a new bar of soap every day. This morning I finally called to inquire into options, and was told that I could have them just not come to my room at all while I'm staying here; after some thought, I agreed to that. It's not like I'm going to make a huge mess, and I really don't need my linens and towels changed, nor my bed made.
Finally, the hotel's location isn't really ideal. It's pretty close to O'Hare, and not all that far from Mary Anne's, but there are a bunch of hotels that are about five minutes closer to both. An extra five minutes each way isn't much, but it would be nice. Especially because I'm rediscovering that I-190 and I-90 have reasonably heavy traffic at all times of day and night, so reducing the distance I need to travel along them would be a good idea.
Oh, and speaking of airport and traffic, it does get a little noisy in the early mornings, even with earplugs.
Anyway. As "three-star" hotels go, this one is fine, and it's not much more expensive than the WisCon hotel rate at the Madison Concourse. And the fridge and microwave and free wired Internet are really major advantages. But I suspect I can do better next time I visit.
I think, unfortunately, that the Larkspur Landing has spoiled me for what a hotel should be like. Comfortable, pleasant, attractive, quiet, friendly, even kind of elegant. I imagine I could get those things in this area at a higher-priced hotel, but I think subconsciously I'd been hoping that this one would be like that.
(Wrote this late Tuesday night, decided to wait to post it.)