My husband and I were invited to visit the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore Hotel in Skokie, IL. Because it’s in close proximity to our Chicago home, we always took the hotel for granted. Now, after our visit, we’re sorry that we missed out on experiencing the beautifully appointed interior of the Holiday Inn along with its many offerings before, as well as enjoying many tasty meals at its restaurant, Bar Louie, the heart of the hotel.
Our overnight mini-vacation started at the reception desk, where the staff was alert and attentive to fulfilling our reservations. Smiles and greetings galore. This was also the first time we’ve taken our wire-fox terrier, Dexter, to a hotel – and we were hoping he would be on his best doggy behavior. He got the warmest greeting of all, responding with a wagging tail.
Our room, one of 80 Executive Rooms, was tastefully appointed and immaculate. It had a king size bed – my preferred size- plus 4 plump pillows and a comfortable couch where the dog and I cuddled. That night, we watched our favorite shows on the large flat-screen, high definition television. The room also had a refrigerator and microwave plus complimentary high-speed Internet. There are a total of 244 newly renovated guest rooms and suites.
To get to our room, we passed the indoor heated swimming pool , whirlpool and indoor fitness center. Since it was such a cold night outside, I remembered that I had forgotten my bathing suit, which would have added to our good time. “Oh, well,” I remarked to my husband, “next time at the Holiday Inn.”
Bar Louie Skokie, one of several in an excellent chain of restaurants, was mobbed that Tuesday night. I discovered that on Tuesdays there are $1 hamburgers when accompanied with a drink. I loved the calamari, served in a metal basket usually reserved for French fries. The classic Caesar’s salad was crispy and had that extra zingy zest that is missing in many other Caesar’s salads. A salad for one was easily shared between my husband and me.
Voodoo Chicken was my husband’s choice for main entre. It was blackened chicken with a specially made voodoo sauce, rice, Andouille sausage and bell peppers. He simply smiled when I asked him how the chicken was.
I chose the choice Angus Ribeye, although the menu clearly stated it was only available Thursday through Sunday. The waitress said she would ask the kitchen, and came back with a positive reply. Although Bar Louie isn’t a steak house, the meat was tender and delicious.
There is nothing but exclamation points (all positive) for the oversized chocolate cake and the signature Martinis.
During breakfast with Sheila Lakhani Gilani, the Corporate Director of Operations as well as the daughter of the Lakhani family that owns this hotel, one Holiday Inn at O’Hare Airport and another in Oak Brook, I was impressed with Sheila’s passion for fine-tuning every aspect of the hotel. Sheila is extremely proud of the Holiday Inn’s reputation for vacationers, business travelers and business and convention attendees. And her pride shows on this mother of four children, all under the age of five.
I had already seen the spacious ballroom of over 11,000 square feet during a Skokie Chamber of Commerce meeting. It is the largest ballroom on the North Shore. Besides business meetings and conventions, there are many banquets, weddings and special occasions in the Ballroom, which can also be divided into eight meeting rooms. The hotel ballroom serves a multi-cultural audience, especially for the Southeast Asia community widely represented in Cook County. They accommodate all types of food including Kosher for Bar Mitzvahs and weddings.
One thing left a lasting impression. That was that on every name badge the various staff wore, the number of years they worked at the Holiday Inn North Shore Hotel was listed. The catering director had been there 38 years, one of the waitstaff had been there over eight years, and so on. Their staff stays, which says something quite impressive about the way the management and staff get along. Several of them commented they wouldn’t work any other place. That says it all – in a nutshell!
Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore Hotel
5300 West Touhy Avenue
For Reservations or Information: 847-679-8900 or go to
Photos: Courtesy of Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore Hotel