Whitehall and Inn of Chicago are on the north side of the Chicago River in the area of Michigan Avenue called the Magnificent Mile which is where the high end shopping district of Chicago is.
The Congress Hotel is on the south side of the Chicago River closer to Grant Park, Millennium Park, the Art Institute and what is considered downtown Chicago.
I would stay at the Whitehall or Inn of Chicago over the Congress Hotel. The Congress Hotel cleaning staff has been striking for 9 or 10 years (really!) and the location kind of dries up at night. You will be closer to restaurants and bars if you stay at one of the other two. I always prefer to be closer to what I'm doing at night than during the day, walking later at night might make you uncomfortable in the Congress Hotel area but there will be lots of people out and about near the other two.
I agree to avoid the Congress Hotel. I've stayed at the Whitehall on several occasions and have really enjoyed it. I believe it was recently renovated (in the past year) so the rooms should all be very nice- even though they were nice before. The only downfalls of the Whitehall that I can think if are that since it is old, the elevator is quite small so if you are there at a crowded time, you might have to wait a bit for the elevator. The other negative is that if you are looking for a hotel room with a view, this hotel is not for you- it is old and surrounded by much taller buildings. Positives I'd highlight are the location and proximity to great shopping and dining, also the nice lounge on the main floor. The staff is also quite helpful.
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