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. With its central location in the Loop, HI Chicago Hostel is within easy reach of most tourist attractions and business addresses in the city. Ray's Bucktown B & B is a sweet choice if you'd like to explore and snooze in a great Chicago neighborhood. Hotel Versey, just a mile from Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park, is a good budget option especially if you want to steer clear of the River North crowds. 

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; Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown - a block from the largest Starbucks on the planet; and Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown West Loop which has a ton more amenities than words in its name. 


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 or 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. 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. Steps from the subway, the property also offers $25 self-park.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: With a dearth of options in the West Loop, It's a budget-friendly hotel that works for visitors and families of patients at the nearby hospitals.

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This 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 at the self-pour bar, Fulton Tap, where guests self pour by the ounce.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Spacious suites at this West Loop hotel feature full kitchens and lots of extras, ideal for business travelers or families.

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The St. Clair Hotel - Magnificent Mile is a midscale property offering comfortable rooms and modern amenities at budget prices. Book a package or 30 days in advance and save even more. 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 affordable rates. The St. Clair Hotel - Magnificent Mile is also pet-friendly.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: The St. Clair Hotel's 208 modern rooms have been revitalized, renovated and upgraded and it offers affordable rates in a prime location.

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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 a little more but when shared are still pretty cheap.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: In addition to inexpensive accommodations and a central Loop location, HI Chicago offers free walking tours and excursions throughout the city.

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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, Greek yogurt smoothies, pressed juices, and egg white frittatas are among the buffet items). Or grab a free Hampton's On-the-Run breakfast bag with fruit, a breakfast bar and a bottle of water, Monday to Friday. Have a cold one in the contemporary lobby bar, "Jack's Place." 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.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: The original art-deco decor adds history and finesse to this downtown hotel, which includes free breakfast, free Wifi and great rates.

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FOUND is a network of hotels and co-living residences in popular locations that offer low prices and high value. The Chicago outpost 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 store food and prepare a meal in the communal kitchen or dine at any number of restaurants nearby (visitors might want to stroll over to Al's #1 Italian Beef or Portillo's for iconic Chicago eats) and Target is just a block away to stock up on necessities.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: FOUND Chicago offers affordable private and shared rooms, accommodating everyone from backpackers to business travelers.

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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.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Ray's offers a friendly, affordable place to hole up and get out to explore the popular community.

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Lincoln Park

Hotel Versey is a welcome alternative to ordinary downtown hotels. Previously known as the "Rock and Roll Days Inn," music fans will be excited to know that the likes of Foo Fighters, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow (who rollerbladed through the lobby, although not permitted), Wilco and the Black Keys stayed in this cool stack of bricks. Rooms are simple and spacious; common areas are colorful. Roughly a 15-minute walk from Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park, the hotel offers packages like the Cubs Rate: book a room and receive 25% off and various vacation packages. There are plenty of sweet indie eateries and shops nearby.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Hotel Versey is in a vibrant neighborhood with independently owned eateries and shops, just a mile from Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park.

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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. 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 $49 in/out self-parking (other hotels charge $70 for valet). There's also an event coordinator to help plan your time in Chicago and multilingual staff, too.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: This is one of the country's premier hostels, and a great value for visitors staying downtown.

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Best Western River North Hotel is one of the most economical hotels with amenities of its kind downtown. Rates can be very reasonable depending upon your travel dates and even in peak season, other properties that offer less can be $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 $49 per day with in and out privileges - a big savings when other hotels charge up to $70 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.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: The amenities and affordable price point makes Best Western River North Hotel an unprecedented value in Chicago.

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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