i’ve been avoiding flying international through O’Hare for a while now due to the lack of shower facilities (yes, that is an actual part of my decision-making process — would you expect anything less?), but finally the gates to cleanliness heaven have opened thanks to the renovated lounge near gate C17. from what i understand, they expanded the existing lounge by taking over the space of the old First Class Lounge but kept the latter’s showers.
i’m really glad to have ORD back as an international gateway but as you’ll see, the facilities leave a bit to be desired.
ease of access and location: the lady at reception (who was trying to send me to the showerless Concourse B lounge because i’m flying Lufthansa next) said to ask at the Customer Service desk for shower access, but there were two United people observing and they were muttering to themselves in the future it’d be best to just cut out the middleman and send them back directly. one of these observers walked me back, but i suppose there’s no reason you can’t just go directly anyways. once you enter the lounge, turn right and the showers are straight ahead in the corner.
hand the attendant your boarding pass and have a mint while you get checked in.
the room is decently-sized, with a shelf for your carry-on, two hooks with hangars, and a heated towel rack.
the goods: a foot towel is already laid out for you (and there’s a separate rug in front of the sink so you’re not shuffling around trying to keep the towel underfoot!) and a large towel is hanging on the heated rack. a smaller towel and facecloth are folded on the sink.
much like in the plane lavatories, the shampoo/body wash, conditioner, and lotion are Philosophy Pure Grace. i’m not particularly a fan of the scent (smells like…well, i don’t want to offend anyone who uses it) but props to them for going name-brand.
there’s also a hairdryer and a bottle each of United-branded soap and lotion.
the attendant told me that if i needed anything, just pick up the phone in there and ask him — whether it be for a toothbrush, to get some clothes pressed (i’m assuming that’s a holdover from when it was a First Class Lounge), or whatever. definitely the most personal service i’ve had from a United Club.
shower: here’s where things started to go downhill.
the big handle controls on/off and temperature, the small lever above it controls water pressure. so far so good.
until you turn it on and then notice all the other wall protrusions.
there’s a secondary shower head that doesn’t do anything (as far as i could figure out) other than constantly dribble water (right in front of the soap/shampoo cubbyhole). there was also what appeared to be a knob receptacle on the wall without a knob that just dripped water. temperature-wise, everything was great (nice and hot), but pressure-wise, ugh. there is supposedly a 20-minute courtesy time limit but at the rate the water was flowing, you’d better not dilly-dally.
cleanliness and state of facilities: welp, it was definitely clean, but ugh the shower could use a renovation, badly. the missing fixture and dripping random shower head was not as bad as the missing faucet in Beijing, but still. speaking of the sink, there was a big crack (repaired) running through the basin. let’s hope this is not the end of the renovations, but i have a feeling it is.
overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. like i said, i’m really glad there are finally shower facilities for the rest of us (well, the rest of the elite of us?) at O’Hare, but they are in desperate need of updating. judging from the style of the Kohler toilet and color of the granite, i’m thinking it’s at least 20 years old? the eyebrow-raising state of the shower itself is what’s holding it back from being four-star, which IMHO O’Hare ultimately deserves. i think i have time on my way home in a week to shower again; hopefully i will get a different room and see if the plumbing is in a better state there.
update 2013-08-18: eight days later i got recognized by the shower attendant. YES.