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On a Budget? Stay at Chicago's Less Expensive Hotels and Hostels



Visitors to Chicago don’t need to limit themselves to traditional hotels for accommodations, although there are plenty of budget-friendly choices throughout the city with amenities like free WiFi and breakfasts to stretch your dollars.  

Finding a hotel room for less than $150 a night in a metropolitan city like Chicago used to be nearly impossible, but with auction sites and web-only specials - it's a snap. We've done the legwork and found several that meet your budget while still within walking distance or a quick CTA train or bus ride away from major attractions including the Museum Campus, Lincoln Park Zoo, Wrigley Field, theater district and the Magnificent Mile. In addition to the room rate, we counted complimentary amenities and access to attractions either by foot or public transportation.

Chicago's boutique hostel hotels, such as Freehand and Found, offer both shared and private accommodations in fabulous locations with event coordinators so traveling solo just got easier, too. If you prefer a traditional hotel room, good bets include the St. Clair Hotel steps from Michigan Ave.; Best Western River North with its indoor pool and discounted parking; Hotel Chicago West Loop near Restaurant Row, United Center and the Illinois Medical District; and Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown West Loop which has a ton more amenities than words in its name. 


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Hotel Chicago West Loop is a good choice for those who want to let loose on renowned Restaurant Row, the United Center at a bucket list concert or a Bulls/ Hawks game or if you have business in the Illinois Medical District. There is an array of room types as well as luxe pillow top mattresses, Keurig coffee makers, refrigerators, microwaves, LCD TVs with cable, work areas, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour fitness center, complimentary coffee, on-site washing machines and a private parking lot. Standard room rates can be as low as $90. The hotel champions the city's eclectic communities through its arts initiative serving as a functioning gallery, too. Dubbed The Annex, the art concept features a permanent collection throughout the hotel in addition to rotating exhibitions. Book with special code "ANNEX and " 10% of all regular room rates go to arts non-profit.




This recently opened 23-story hotel in the ever-growing West Loop neighborhood offers spacious suites convenient for business and leisure travelers. Even suburbanites undertaking a staycation will like the fact that the hotel is close to Metra and Union stations as well as CTA (Green and Pink) lines. Suites feature fully-equipped kitchens with full-size refrigerators so you can easily prepare meals and have ready snacks to save more money. Count on microwaves, stove cooktops and dishwashers. There are complementary grills on the garden terrace, free grocery shopping service or shop the nearby Chicago French Market for groceries, cheeses and more. Before you head out to the museums or shopping, enjoy a complimentary full, hot breakfast. Take a load off when the sun sets with the evening social Monday to Thursday with drinks and snacks or swim in the indoor pool.


Chicago Getaway Hostel


No doubt the Millennial generation leans toward hostel and dorm-like environments when they're on the road. And why not: they're affordable, convenient, often in historic buildings and solo travelers get built-in social advantages. The Chicago Getaway Hostel is located near the beach in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood (close to the Red and Brown train lines) and its spacious, modern common areas, gourmet communal kitchen and outdoor patio mean it's easy to get to know fellow travelers. There are dormitory beds and private rooms and many have in-suite baths. The list of freebies includes WiFi, daily breakfast, coffee, weekly social events, and others. Take advantage of bike rentals, on-site parking (space is limited), computer stations and free printing. Get an extra 5% off when you call to book your reservation directly.


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With its central location in the Loop, HI Chicago is within easy reach of most tourist attractions and business addresses in the city. A night in the 500-bed hostel includes free WiFi, sheets and towels, continental breakfast, pool and ping-pong tables. Guests can also use the shared kitchen, TV lounges, and washing machines. Guestrooms have all the conveniences expected in a hotel including air conditioning, separate shower and tub and a mini bar. The hostel is within walking distance to Lake Michigan (with 18 miles of running and biking paths), Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. Activities from the hostel include free walking tours and excursions. Choose among inexpensive men's and women's dorm rooms or private rooms and suites that cost more but when shared are still pretty cheap.


Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Hampton Inn


Hampton Inn has three hotels in downtown Chicago, all of which offer excellent value. They have clean rooms, free WiFi and an impressive free breakfast (eggs, bacon, waffles, oatmeal, and fresh juices are among the buffet items). Or grab a free Hampton's On the Run Breakfast Bag™, Monday to Friday. Unlike the carbon-copy Hampton Inns you may imagine along the interstates, this particular Hampton oozes character. Built in the old Chicago Automobile Association offices, this renovated property maintains the building's history, including its original art deco decor. Those visiting Chicago on a budget will love it for its friendly staff and excellent location, just steps from Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River Walk and Millennium Park is two blocks away.




FOUND is a network of hotels and co-living residences in popular locations that offer low prices and high value. The Chicago outpost, the first of several that continue to launch around the country, is in the original Olympia Building in River North. It's a 21st century communal and social traveling experience with events posted on the activities board, opportunities to meet with fellow guests to explore the city, rent a bike or hang out in the 24-hour guest lounge with 70" TV. Choose a private room or shared dorm-style room with two to three beds and a bathroom. You can prepare a meal with others in the communal kitchen or dine at the on-site Mason, a modern American restaurant. Drink at Blind Dragon, a Japanese cocktail lounge with private karaoke rooms in the hotel's basement with a speakeasy-style entrance, and grab a coffee and a snack at Mason&Mason in the lobby.




If you knew Bucktown before it was all that, you'd say Ray's is perfectly named for what was a tightly knit, working-class neighborhood. Now, that it's a hot, trendy community, you can still get a sense of Chicago friendliness, be in the center of Bucktown dining, nightlife and galleries and not spend too much on one of 11 rooms at Ray's. There are more than 80 restaurants and bars within walking distance. The charming property is known for a full cooked-to-order breakfast (Ray thinks he was a short-order cook in a previous incarnation), Chicago-style hospitality and a nice facility with community areas, sauna, steam room, quirky collections of ephemera, free parking and WiFi, full kitchen for guest use and free bottled water, coffee and tea.




Best Western River North Hotel is one of the most economical hotels with amenities of its kind downtown. Winter rates can be as low as $72 and even in peak season, other properties that offer less can be $30-$50 higher per night. Amenities include an indoor pool with adjacent sundeck and skyline views, modern exercise facility, free wireless internet, a full-service restaurant and lounge and on-site parking that is only $25 per day - a big savings when other hotels charge up to $65 a day. Best Western River North is in close proximity to Navy Pier, Michigan Avenue and the Merchandise Mart, making it a great place for those attending trade shows, too.




The newly-opened St. Clair Hotel -" Magnificent Mile is an upper midscale property offering comfortable rooms and modern amenities at budget prices. Located one block from Michigan Ave. and easy walks to renowned shopping, museums, restaurants and attractions, the hotel is part of Red Roof's newest soft brand, The Red Collection. The property has 208 modern amenity-filled rooms, with the only Elite Windy City King-Kings (two king-sized beds on the Mag Mile which works for families. The property offers what one would expect in a big city hotel in terms of amenities(fast and free WiFi, large flat screen TVs, work desks, nice bathrooms and linens) at very affordable rates. The St. Clair Hotel - Magnificent Mile is also pet-friendly.


Freehand Hotel Chicago
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Adrian Gaut


Located in a classic 1927 building in River North, Freehand Hotel Chicago is less than a mile from Millennium Park and steps from Michigan Ave. Your senses will be tickled by an innovative design, relaxed, community atmosphere and aromas of freshly brewed Nicaraguan coffee wafting from Café Integral. Grab a cocktail, appetizers or a burger at the Broken Shaker or use your access to the guest kitchen available 24/7 which has a stove, oven, fridge and microwave. Freehand is between a hotel and a hostel with King, Queen and Quad Rooms (two twin bunk beds to sleep four guests, which is great for teams, student groups or friends trying to keep costs down). The two-bedroom penthouse is perfect for families. There's complimentary Wi-Fi and $39 in/out self-parking (other hotels charge $62-70 for valet). There's also an event coordinator to help plan your time in Chicago and multilingual staff, too.


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Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky

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