Should I stay at the Hotel Orrington?
August 21, 2007 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Does anybody know about the Hotel Orrington in Evanston, IL?

I am making last-minute plans to go to the APSA conference in Chicago next week (Thurs-Sun). All the conference hotels are booked, and it's Labor Day weekend so cheap rooms in the city are nowhere to be found.

I have found a room at an acceptable rate at the Hotel Orrington in Evanston. It certainly looks lovely on the web site. Am I being fooled?

The conference is headquartered at the Hyatt Regency (151 Wacker Drive). I will have to go down there in the mid-morning on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and very early morning on Sunday. I will return to the hotel on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the early evening, and on Sunday I will go right to the airport in the early afternoon.

I want to use public transit ... the CTA web site makes it look like this is possible (albeit time-consuming). Is there something I don't know that's going to make this plan miserable and/or not at all feasible? I hear that there is some massive construction going on with the El right now. Does any of that affect the lines that I would be riding on?

Basically I don't know much about Chicago, and I'd love any advice that anyone has about my plan to stay in Evanston and take the train to downtown to attend the conference.

To pre-empt some questions/comments: I don't care anything about "going out" at night in the city (no $, no interest), so I don't mind not being in the heart of things. I'm more a fan of college towns than of big cities anyway, so I think I'd actually like Evanston. I'm just worried about the logistics of this plan, since I don't know much about the city/area.

Thanks so much in advance!
posted by mccxxiii to Travel & Transportation around Evanston, IL (13 answers total)
I don't know about construction as I don't live in Chicago, but a couple Thanksgivings ago I stayed at the Orrington and rode the Purple Line into the city. The hotel is as nice as it looks, and the train ride, unencumbered by construction, is not bad at all. I'd recommend staying there.
posted by PhatLobley at 8:19 PM on August 21, 2007

Evanston is a great town and The Orrington is a fine hotel. You can take the El downtown. Easy and not a safety problem at all. You are in a college town that has whatever you need and offers some nice walking tours. The lake (Michigan) from the campus is beautiful especially this time of year. (Disclaimer: I moved from the north shore of Chicago 6 years ago.)

Based on your lack of desire to party in Chicago, this is a great plan.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:20 PM on August 21, 2007

Ya, the Orrington is lovely. The train trip will take a little while, but completely doable.

I just want to mention that Evanston isn't a college town in the same way that say Ann Arbor or Madison is. That's not a bad thing, it's just not what you may be expecting.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:22 PM on August 21, 2007

You'll be fine. Echoing the others: The Orrington is nice, and the purple line isn't bad at all.
posted by sugarfish at 8:24 PM on August 21, 2007

I stayed there twice. Very nice independent hotel. Decent restaurant and nice bar in the hotel. Comfortable room. Make sure to ask for a room away from the elevator as there is a loud "ding" whenever the door opens.

Evanston has some great restaurants within walking distance.

I was working at Northwestern and took a cab around. I can't speak for mass transit.

But I would stay at the Orrington if I ever came back to Evanston.
posted by MCTDavid at 8:26 PM on August 21, 2007

Another vote for the Orrington. The purple express should get you downtown relatively quickly if you are leaving early enough.

If it's after rush hour then you have to switch from the purple to the red line at Howard.

Enjoy Chicago!
posted by langeNU at 8:27 PM on August 21, 2007

It will be a little more expensive, but much faster if you took the Metra, Pacific North Line down to Olgivie Station, which is less than a mile from the Hyatt Regency. It would cut your commute in half (at least) and the ride would be MUCH more pleasant. Oh, and metra trains are rarely late or delayed. The Metra station is right next to the CTA station you'd be using in Evanston.
posted by AceRock at 8:44 PM on August 21, 2007

The Orrington was always a fairly nice hotel; they remodeled it a couple of years ago, and though I haven't been in it since I think it has got better not worse.

Evanston is a nice place to be with plenty of places to eat, so even if you get stuck there of an evening you won't starve, though it doesn't have the nightlife of Chicago itself.

You actually have a choice of two trains from Evanston (Davis Street in this case) to downtown Chicago: the "El" (CTA) and the Metra (what was once the Northwestern). The L will be a far better bet on the weekend, and it will drop you off closer to the Hyatt, but the Metra is faster with fewer stops, getting across the loop aside. The L has an express during rush hour that will take you to/from the loop in less than an hour; when the express is not running you make more stops and need to change at Howard -- easy but somewhat slower.

Please note that the Hyatt is on East Wacker. This is an issue as Wacker follows the river and turns a corner: there are addresses on North, South, East, and West Wacker. The Hyatt is just east of the Michigan Ave. bridge.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:46 PM on August 21, 2007

As alluded to above, the Purple Line runs to downtown only during rush hours (don't have a PDF viewer on this machine, so I can't find the precise schedule on the CTA's site). The rest of the time, the southbound Purple Line ends at Howard, and you've got to take the Red Line the rest of the way — which is fine, but it'll take longer, as it doesn't run express like the Purple. This may or may not be an issue, depending on the timing of your trips. I believe, though I'm not certain, that the Purple Line doesn't run downtown at all on the weekend.

I don't ride the Metra, but my understanding is that it is faster (and nicer), but runs much less frequently, than the El; you need to plan to catch a particular train, whereas with the El you can pretty much show up on the platform and be relatively sure of seeing a train within a few minutes, unless it's 3 AM.
posted by enn at 9:13 PM on August 21, 2007

the hotel itself is great, but that's going to be a long trip, especially if you need to be to e wacker early in the morning.
posted by atomly at 11:31 PM on August 21, 2007

but that's going to be a long trip

These things are of course relative, and it depends what you mean by "early," but the Evanston Express train from Davis to Washington/Wells takes 37 minutes. The Express only runs morning and evening (quite likely when you would be coming and going), serving all those people who live in Evanston and work downtown; commuting is not the same as visiting, but they don't think the trip is unreasonable. If you miss the Express the trip downtown is a bit more variable in time and will take a bit longer, but unless you are unlucky or are traveling at an odd time it shouldn't take more than about an hour.

The CTA has maps, schedules and a trip planner to help you decide.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:14 AM on August 22, 2007

If you do want something closer to the Hyatt, it can't hurt to try Priceline a day or two before your check-in date. Just reserve a room at the Orrington as backup, plug in what you're willing to pay at Priceline, and cancel the Orrington room if you get it (make sure there's no cancellation fee). We have stayed at 4 star hotels like the Palmer House and the Hyatt (same one) for $50, even when there were conferences going on. Even if you're not into the nightlife, I think it will benefit you to be closer to the conference center.
posted by desjardins at 1:10 PM on August 22, 2007

Nthing the comments about Evanston and the Orrington. But I'd also add that the CTA construction shouldn't be too problematic for you, although some of the stations are pretty torn up at the moment. I'd just check the service alerts before you leave, because they've been doing some weird things on the weekends.
posted by gueneverey at 5:22 PM on August 22, 2007

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