Chicago has a bunch of great neighborhoods and they’re well connected with the L train. Each one offers something slightly different and there are plenty of hotels to choose from, which can seem a daunting task. I know it felt like one for me. Thankfully some lovely ladies came through and pointed me in the right direction. I thought it only fair to share their tips with you.
Freehand – This hotel/hostel is located in River North, one of Chicago’s neighborhoods in the heart of the action. The hotel offers a mix of private rooms and dorm-style beds, so I expected it to have the typical hostel feel. Not at all. It is a trendy, bohemian boutique hotel with a front desk service that feels more like a concierge. The staff are super helpful, especially if you pop up with no real plans like I did.
I booked a private queen bedroom for $92 a night. No stellar view but the Magnificent Mile was just blocks away and Millenium Park was a 10 minute walk south. Grab breakfast at Café Integral downstairs, try a pumpkin doughssant at the Westtown Bakery to the right, eat your heart out with a glass of wine in hand at Eataly to the left and kick your feet up at the Berkshire Room two doors down for a custom-crafted cocktail. Really, it’s going to be hard to go anywhere with a set up like this. Thank Debbie B. for the rec!
Hotel Indigo – This boutique hotel recommended by Brittany T. is located in the pretty Gold Coast neighborhood, slightly north of the city center action. I’ve stayed at a Hotel Indigo in Baton Rouge and really enjoyed it. The location is a bit farther removed from the sites but easily accessible (ubers and lyfts to River North are under $10), and it offers a great middle ground if you plan to spend some time exploring the Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Wrigleyville areas in addition to the city center sites. Rates were starting at $94 a night when I visited.
Airbnb – Renting a room, or house, is always a great way to see the city from a local’s perspective. Especially if you are sharing a home with them during your stay. Amy C. was nice enough to offer her gorgeous room in Pilsen for my stay, but somebody beat me to booking! It’s a great deal for around $60 a night.
Chicago local Ilana O. kindly recommended the following neighborhoods as well.
Lakeview – As its name suggests, this neighborhood offers stunning view of the lakefront. It’s home to many of Chicago’s young professionals so I spent a good amount of my time exploring this area with local friends. It’s an easy train ride from River North or a quick cab ride (mine was about $15). Explore nearby Wrigleyville and Boyston while you’re in the area.
Old Town – Located between Lincoln Park and Gold Coast, this neighborhood is also a good middle ground for those wishing to be close to but not in the city center.
Streeterville – Like River North, this neighborhood is located in the middle of the action, making it a major tourist destination.
The Loop – I feel like I should also mention the Loop because if you are heading to Chicago you are going to hear the name a lot. It is where all the lines on the L train come together in a loop and it houses the central business district of the city, including The Sears Tower. It’s where you’ll find The Bean, Millenium Park and a number of recognizable hotels.