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Affinia Hotel, Chicago, Illinois 

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166 E. Superior Street
Chicago , Illinois
Tel: 312 787 6000
view web site ›'s insider take:

Assuming its recession-ready prices hold steady (we've seen rates as low as $150), this outpost of the five-hotel Affinia chain located a block off North Michigan Avenue is one of the best values in town. True, the spartan reception area feels understaffed, and the Marcus Samuelsson C-House restaurant demonstrates that celebrity chefs can oversee too many kitchens. But the $25-million renovation completed in June 2008 clearly shows in the guest rooms, which are done up in a vaguely Deco style with a silver and gold palette and padded leather headboards. While standard rooms are a respectable 390 square feet, it's worth "splurging" for one of the 715-square-foot junior suites ($199). The bathrooms are small, but the hotel aims to compensate with flat-screen TVs and an inventive range of free amenities, including a stay-fit Experience Kit (complete with yoga mat and workout bands) and a pillow menu (try the "sound pillow," threaded with thin white-noise speakers). There's also a fitness room, which comes in handy after indulging in the "Sweet Treats" dessert and candy room-service menu. Bargain-hunters may find the Affinia's dogged attempt to show guests a playful time to be a bit much, but you have to credit the hotel's creative ambition. —Raphael Kadushin

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