Because of COVID, here's what to expect the next time you book a Chicago hotel

It is spring break time for many of us. Whether you have received the COVID vaccine or not, you are probably ready for either a vacation or stay-cation.

In a FOX 32 special report, we check in with some downtown hotels to see what you can expect the next time you book a room after a year in a pandemic.


Benjamin Davis is on his way back home after spending the last week in a Chicago hotel while on a business trip.

"It’s definitely a lot different now," he said.

When Davis checked in to the Embassy Suites on the Mag Mile, he did not do it the "old" way.

"I actually avoid the front desk," he said. "Go straight to my room with my cellphone."

Guests who have the Hilton app can skip the front desk and do a "mobile check in" using their cellphones.

We got a quick tutorial from the hotel's general manager, Kathy Heneghan.

"As I check in, I’m going to let them know what time I expect to arrive. I’m going to select 4PM, so I can get there as early as I can. What the hotel has selected for me is room 1706. Let’s say I don’t like that room. I can go ahead and pick another," Heneghan said. "I’ve selected 1501. I’m gonna pick this room, and I’ll select check in."

Once you finish checking in on your phone, the hotel sends you your room key on your phone, so you can head up whenever you are ready.

In addition, during your stay, you do not have to use your room phone to contact the front desk.

To ask for more towels or pillows, you can send them a text either through the hotel app or by scanning a QR code posted in the hotel lobby.

At Chicago’s Renaissance Hotel, we found out your cellphone can also be used as the remote control for the TV in your room.

"It’s able to be accessed through a QR code. The guest can just use the QR code reader on their phone and that automatically brings up the remote control options," said General Manager Kristin Duncan. "The beauty of this is there’s not an app. The QR code reader takes you to a website, but you don’t have to install or download anything."

Of course, both hotels have upped their cleaning game.

At the Renaissance, in addition to following CDC protocols, they are also combining an electro-static sprayer with hospital grade disinfectants.

"The electronic charge grabs on to the surfaces more tightly and allows for that area to be sanitized in a stronger and a longer way," Duncan said.

While at Embassy Suites, "the elevated process and procedures we have in place here at the hotel have been developed in conjunction with RB, which is the maker of Lysol, in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic," Heneghan said.

For guests, like Davis, this is all good news.

"Honestly, I like it. It’s a lot quicker of a process," he said.

Soon, your phone will take on one more task when you are staying at a hotel. You will be able to use it to order room service, through an app, of course.