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Chicago is a maze of cultural landmarks, world-class museums, gorgeous green spaces, and incredible architectural wonders. It’s hard to know where to head first: Will you spend the day traipsing around sprawling Millennium Park? Marveling at the exotic vegetation at the Garfield Park Observatory? Drinking beer and watching baseball at Wrigley Field? However you decide to spend your time in the Windy City, it can be helpful to make a budget beforehand and consider saving on lodgings. Chicago isn’t the cheapest place to visit, but you can stay within a moderate range at any of the properties below.
Best Overall: Inn of Chicago
The Windy City has a wealth of budget-friendly hotels, but the Inn of Chicago easily comes out on top. The price is very, very right for this charming boutique, especially considering its winning location in the heart of downtown. The Inn of Chicago offers immediate access to most of the city’s main attractions, including the Magnificent Mile, Millenium Park, and Navy Pier, along with the buzzing nightlife of Rush Street. And yet, the historic hotel (construction began on the inn in 1928) feels simultaneously tucked away and very close to all the action. The Inn of Chicago offers spacious, well-maintained accommodations with plenty of amenities. Each room has a flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi access, superior bath amenities, a coffeemaker, and comfy pillow-top bedding, in addition to historic Chicago photography and classic furnishings. The on-site restaurant serves American cuisine in a family-friendly atmosphere, though there are also numerous eateries within walking distance. The staff is very friendly here, and 24-hour front desk and housekeeping services are available.
Best Boutique: The River Hotel
The River Hotel is a lovely, award-winning property that offers spacious accommodations at a reasonable price point. Conveniently located downtown, within a five-minute walk of the Chicago Theatre, Riverwalk, and Tribune Tower (and just a ten-minute walk from Millennium Park), as well as several popular bars and restaurants, the property is a comfy, one-of-a-kind gem considering its low rates and stellar location. The hotel has a variety of rooms, all of which are tastefully decorated and equipped with a smart TV (so you can view your own photos from the day or just relax and watch a movie), free Wi-Fi, mobile room locks, private bathroom, and complimentary tea and coffee. In addition to the hotel’s cozy accommodations, The River Hotel’s on-site restaurant, Bella Bacino’s Italian Bistro & Pizzeria, is a bit of a culinary hotspot. They serve truly delectable deep-dish pizza (a must-try on any trip to Chicago) and other yummy Italian specialties, and the sizeable outdoor patio is a lovely place to sit if the weather allows.
Best for Families: Holiday Inn Chicago Downtown
The Holiday Inn Chicago Downtown is one of the most popular hotels in town, and it’s a particularly great pick for families vacationing in the Windy City. Featuring an array of family-friendly amenities and cush accommodations, the Holiday Inn Downtown also boasts a prime location; it's surrounded by the Shedd Aquarium, Millennium Park, and Willis Tower, as well as the CTA Clinton Blue Line and Red Line if you want to catch a White Sox or Cubs game. On-site amenities include a stately 24-hour fitness center, free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, a seasonal rooftop pool, a game room with a coin-operated music box, and tons of in-room, kiddo-friendly movies. All rooms are non-smoking and come equipped with all the basic amenities you’ll need, like a Keurig coffeemaker, mini-fridge, iron and ironing board, and 32-inch HDTV. Or, guests can opt for a spacious suite if traveling with multiple kiddos in tow, since these have a kitchenette and microwave oven — perfect for preparing easy meals during your vacay.
Best for Romance: Ambassador Chicago
Lovebirds are bound to adore the Ambassador Chicago, whose storied history dates back to Chicago’s Jazz Age. The iconic property is also surprisingly affordable, so budget travelers looking for a romantic getaway should consider staying here. The hotel features sweeping views of Lake Michigan and houses two on-site restaurants, the Ambassador Chicago restaurant and The Library Bar, both of which make for the perfect date night spot. There are 285 spacious guestrooms to choose from, each outfitted with custom lighting, imported 300-thread count linens, a sizeable work area, gleaming marble mosaic floors, custom Corian sinks, in-room safe, and a flat screen 42-inch HD-TV with cable. In addition, guests at the Ambassador Chicago get access to a 24-hour fitness center, where you can opt to partake in a customized exercise program.
Best for Luxury: Warwick Allerton-Chicago
In nearly every way, the enchanting, lavish Warwick Allerton-Chicago stands out — even amongst the area's most upscale lodgings. And yes, it’s affordable, so for budget-minded travelers looking to bask in the lap of luxury, this hotel is a perfect fit. Centrally located in the middle of the city’s iconic Magnificent Mile, the sumptuous Warwick Allerton is within walking or driving distance of the Water Tower Place, a dizzying array of nightlife and dining options, several designer stores, and other popular attractions. The hotel’s historic bones date back to the 1920’s Jazz Era, and over the years, it has incorporated more top-notch amenities than you likely have time for. Guests love dining in the M Avenue Restaurant, sipping cocktails in the M Avenue Lounge, and generally enjoying the Warwick Allerton’s polished ambiance. As you might expect of a hotel of this caliber, service is personalized and efficient, and rooms are airy, modern, and outfitted with all the essentials, including a flat-screen TV, luxurious bedding with 325-thread-count sheets, Sobella terry towels, marble bathrooms, and more.
Best for Nightlife: Hotel Felix
Hip, nightlife-loving travelers on a budget who are also looking to explore Chicago’s after-hours scene should elect to stay at Hotel Felix, an eco-friendly boutique firmly situated downtown. Located in River North, a neighborhood known for its many bars, galleries, restaurants, and shops, this beloved hotel is a local steal. There are 228 beautifully appointed guestrooms (some of which boast killer views of the downtown skyline); all rooms are spotlessly clean and come equipped with all the essentials, including free Wi-Fi, LCD satellite TV, telephone, private bathroom, minibar, room service, and ultra-soft pillowtop beds. Plus, Hotel Felix offers a host of other on-site amenities, including a popular sushi bar and lounge area, fully equipped fitness center, complimentary morning coffee, free bottled water, access to the business center, and free local phone calls. All of this is to say: If it’s fun nightlife you’re after, Hotel Felix makes for the ideal home base.
Best for Business: Hotel Chicago Downtown, Autograph Collection
In-the-know business travelers prefer to stay at the Hotel Chicago, conveniently located downtown, in the heart of the city’s River North area. Situated within the Marina City complex, the hotel is next to all the sights and sounds of downtown, including the House of Blues, Soldier Field, the United Center Arena, and a beloved 10-pin bowling alley. All rooms at the Hotel Chicago are affordably priced, and come complete with modern, clean furnishings, comfy linens, and a pillowtop mattress (q good night’s sleep is essential when you’re traveling for work), mini-bar, coffeemaker and tea service, iron and ironing board, in-room safe, hairdryer, and plush robe. For corporate events, the hotel has 13 event rooms of varying sizes, including a 350-capacity space with a 36-foot video wall and high-speed Wi-Fi, as well as a 24-hour business center with on-site copy, fax, print, and messenger services. Add to the list a sleek fitness center and reliably friendly and helpful staff, and it’s clear that the Hotel Chicago is a top choice for budget-conscious business travelers staying in Chicago.
Best B&B: The Majestic Hotel
The historic Majestic Hotel offers all the thoughtful, personalized amenities and services of a great bed-and-breakfast — just at half the price of your average stay. More akin to an old English estate than a Chicago boutique hotel, the Majestic boasts warm, homey decor and tasteful, unique touches, like a cozy fireplace and afternoon fresh-baked cookies in the lobby. Located on a leafy, tree-lined street in East Lakeview, the Majestic is within walking distance of several attractions; it’s also easy to get to the Red Line and nearby buses from here if you want to head downtown. Rooms feature free Wi-Fi, deluxe linens, plush bathrobes, microwaves, mini-fridges, and fully stocked mini-bars, and guests have access to the Fitness Formula Club, a 24-hour facility with a four-lane lap pool, workout equipment, and cardio classes.
Best Hostel: Hostelling International Chicago
Offering both communal and private accommodations, the HI Chicago Hostel is America’s second largest hostel, and it’s also Chicago’s best hostel—the price, location, and accommodations are simply unbeatable. There are several room options (all simply furnished and sparkling clean) to choose from here that run the gamut from multiple bunk beds to female-only dorms to solo rooms with private en-suite bathrooms. The HI Hostel is situated in a historic downtown building that’s within walking distance of the Field Museum, Art Institute, Millennium Park, and dozens of other cultural attractions. Guests can take advantage of the fully equipped kitchen, free continental breakfast (a rarity), and the comfy, colorful living area where most hostel occupants gather in the evenings. There are weekly welcome receptions with cookies and ice cream and plenty of organized activities, including group pub crawls and walking tours. The HI Hostel is also near a cluster of popular bars, shops, and eateries, in addition to all forms of major transportation. For budget-savvy travelers in Chicago, it doesn’t get much cheaper or more convenient than the HI Hostel.