A Postcard from Princess Prunella
0 comment Saturday, June 21, 2014 |
Last week I enjoyed an all-expenses-paid stay at the Chicago Trump Tower and Hotel. And this is my review. Before I get started, though, a few things you should know: I can feel a pea under an hotel mattress, even if it's smashed. I'm a complete and total hotel bitch witch. It's genetic, my mother's legacy.
Background: When I was growing up, we traveled a lot, taking mostly spur-of-the-moment road trips. Like the time my mom called me when I was in fifth grade: "Hi. Granny and I are driving to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. See you in a few days. Bye." Crushed, I begged, "Wait! Let me come with you! Wait!"
Minutes later, there stood my mom, smiling at my classroom door. I can still feel the thrill, and my classmates' jealous stares. On the road, I was the "smokey" look-out, in charge of all CB communiques. Remember the 10-4, copy-that era?
The truckers mistook me for a grown-up. I was so pleased with my sophisticated self. Until I saw a trooper parked by an overpass. Grabbing the mike, I urgently announced, "Breaker 1-9! Smokey northbound, I-75!" "But where is the bear?" the truckers asked repeatedly.
My 11 year-old answer? "Umm, Clearance 16 0!" I stuttered excitedly. Cackles and chortles came back over the channel. Instantly, my "seat" cover was blown. "Honey, they need a mile-marker," my mom explained. The embarrassment, to this day; to this day, oh, the shame.
But back to hotels. Better to starve than stay in a bad room, my mom always said. We'd pull up to a prospect, pile out of the wagon, and collectively inspect the rooms -- before a single suitcase left the Buick.
In New York City, we stayed at the Waldorf. Many a dinner was cheese and crackers. During the day, we'd put the cheese crock outside on the windowsill, together with Mom's wine, to keep them chilled.
So last week, I spent two nights at the Chicago Trump. Although this trip was not on my nickel, I'll pretend like it was. I'll be that exacting. The white gloves are on.
Doorman: A+. He knew my name. How? I asked. "I, uh, saw the name tag?" (the signage in nice Limo-man John's front seat -- he met me in baggage). Excellent observational skills, handsome French doorman. You're subtle, too.
Check-in: Whoops. My reservation is not "in the system." They can't "find" me. I am persona non gratis. Try checking into a swanky hotel when they have no record of your existence. Even if you do pull up in a ridiculously long limousine and your suitcase isn't held together with duct tape. They treat you like you're a homeless person. And . . . well, you are.
While I stood there uncomfortably, hoping to be found, a bedraggled mom (with her older mother, a baby in a stroller, and a toddler in tow) stopped by. Her key had been mysteriously de-activated and she couldn't get into her room. After two attempts, the front desk finally fixed it.
The 95-pound bimbo blonde at the double-D desk who "facilitated" my check-in was fake, and cold. Like the leasing agents you find at aspiring-to-be-chic apartment complexes, she could not have been less sincere or engaged. Very bad first impression. Sorry, Barbie, but check-in was a C-, at best.
The bellman: A+. Andy was super. He showed me every amenity, of which there are too many to list. This picture I took shows my city-side view (after I opened the draperies with the push of a button).
Room: A-. When the bellman ushers you into the room, the Bose stereo is playing fairly loudly. When you return after turn-down service, the same music is playing yet again. You might find it a little intrusive -- unless you like dentist-drill-jazz.
The room's fully-ish equipped kitchen comes with a microwave, dishes, cool Chiliwich placemats, Cuisinart pots, and a Miele two-burner stove, dishwasher, and mini-fridge with icemaker. There's also a great big espresso machine, more complicated than the cockpit of a 747.
No question, the kitchen was impressive. But I just couldn't picture it ever being used. If you're a frugal businessman, reduced to cooking Spaghetti O's in a saucepan your room, then umm, . . . Trump is probably not the place for you. Unless, of course, you're my mom. Or me.
Naturally the TV has "Trump" channels. No surprise there. The name Trump is emblazoned everywhere. The mini-bar features expensive Trump "ICE" water, an unclever play on words (can you make out the red background? It's a picture of a fire). Who wants to remember the Great Chicago Fire when you're staying in a highrise on the 20th floor?
Housekeeping: Virtually all of the lampshades were crooked (but aren't they always? After all, a housekeeper needs proof she's cleaned the room). All of the lamps were plugged in, though. And while there were nicks in the wall behind one of the nightstands, this -- unless you count the stained mini-bar price list -- was the only clue anyone but I had ever set foot in the room. Overall grade for housekeeping: A+.
Amenities: the TV in the bathroom mirror was an extravagant touch. But if you're short, like me, you can't see to put on makeup or dry your hair. The only thing in front of you is a big brown square. (Unless you want to use the magnifying mirror, and I would strongly rather not.)
But the main room had a mammoth flat-screen TV. And from the bed, I could see it perfectly -- even after I'd taken out my contacts and all I had were my bed-time glasses.
Other amenities were A++. However, Trump would be well-advised to include them on his website. The DVD player, for instance, was a frustrating surprise. Frustrating because I'd left my Weeds DVDs at home, along with a few packages of microwave popcorn I'd have brought along. There was also an ipod dock with speakers, which would have come in handy.
The soaking tub looks inviting. Sleek, and hip and wet-room cool. It is, however, enclosed in a glass shower structure, which gives it a green house effect. For some, a long bath in there might feel a little claustrophobic.
Chief complaint: There was no chance of oversleeping on this trip, no sir. Trump is doing massive construction on the city-side of the hotel, chipping away to build his new restaurant. The jackhammers fired up just after dawn, and continued for half the day, rousing me from my luxury slumber and making any more sleep a mission impossible.
This was particularly irksome because when I checked in, I asked robot-Barbie to put me on the river side without extra charge. "No," was her unbudging response. Since she knew full-well that ear-splitting noise would wake me in the morning (and at the time, I did not), this lapse was unforgivable, making my stay unforgettable.
Minor complaint: there was absolutely no cell-phone signal. The wireless computer signal for my laptop was terrific. But you have to go to the lobby to receive or return any calls.

Conclusion: This was one of those rare occasions where the room actually resembles the room pictured on the hotel website. All in all, it was quite nice. So nice, in fact, you won't want to leave it and patronize local restaurants. Instead, you'll want to read in the soaking tub, make a cup of Espresso (assuming you can take command of the Starship Enterprise), and wrap yourself up in a plush Trump terry robe.
And speaking of soaking, let's not forget the gush factor. Falling into the bed was the ultimate Nestea plunge, a total and complete thousand-thread count rapture.
Overall Rating: Well done, Mr. Trump. I give you every Triple-A diamond, the full five Mobil stars. And I am awfully picky.Yours truly, Prunella Pluperfect

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