Chicago at a Price That's Right
We've picked reliable, affordable places to stay in a wide variety of Chicago neighborhoods. Here are ten properties worth considering, from retro inns to apartment-style hotels.
The average rate for hotel room in downtown Chicago is about $190 a night. But with some persistence, it's possible to book a more affordable place that's central, comfy, and—sometimes—even stylish. Given that this lakeside metropolis is a hub for conventions and special events, we recommend you plan ahead. Generally speaking, you'll find the best rates if you book at least one month in advance.
Some booking strategies
The newest option for affordable lodging is Roomorama, a Web marketplace for short-term rentals in Chicago and a few other cities. Any resident can list a share, an apartment, or a house for rent, and a rating system reveals what past guests thought of each rental. Guests secure their reservation by sending a credit card or PayPal payment to Roomorama. When a guest arrives on the scheduled date, he or she evaluates the lodging and gives the host a code supplied by Roomorama. The host plugs this code into Roomorama's website, and the company transfers the guest's payment to the host's account.
If you would rather book a standard hotel, the blind-booking websites Hotwire and Priceline have proven themselves to be promising sources for discounted rooms in Chicago (and elsewhere). These two sites won't name the hotel (or airline or car-rental company) you're working with until your credit card has been charged. For Priceline, try a lowball bid, using BiddingForTravel.com as a guide. For Hotwire, be aware that the deepest discounts are generally for hotels that it rates "four stars." You'll find the most eye-catching deals by clicking on the "Deals" tab on the site's homepage.
Of course, you face some uncertainty about where you're going to stay if you opt for either short-term rentals or blind-booking sites. You may want to instead go for a sure thing. Consider Budget Travel's picks for affordable, independently owned lodging with some personality, with doubles starting at $99 a night.
OHIO HOUSE MOTEL
'Hood River North, a high-foot-traffic neighborhood between Chicago Avenue and the Chicago River. Walkers enjoy an eclectic mix of upscale art galleries, trendy restaurants, and perennial crowd-pleasers such as the Hard Rock Cafe.
First Impression A suburban roadside motel transplanted to the city. Many of the rooms at the two-story complex face the parking lot next to a kitschy "Ohio House Motel" sign.
The Rooms While they're hardly luxury suites, the rooms offer all of the basics at a more-than-fair price. Expect clean, serviceable quarters that are surprisingly quiet, given the neighborhood's bustle.
Plus Sophistication is a short walk away. You'll find art galleries, antiques stores, four-star restaurants, and stylish late-night bars.
Minus If you're looking for cozy, boutique touches in your accommodations, this motel isn't for you.
Free Wi-Fi? No. Wi-Fi is available for $10 per day.
Credit Cards Accepted Visa, MC, AmEx, Discover, Diners Club.
Details 600 N. LaSalle St., 312/943-6000, ohiohousemotel.com, doubles from $100.
Hotel Type Motel.
Relevant Lifestyle Family-friendly.
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'Hood River North near downtown Chicago, north of the Loop and home to Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile, an upscale corridor featuring the showcase stores of national chains, including the world's largest Polo store.
First Impression This is a Holiday Inn Express and a boutique hotel? Well, yes, that is the familiar corporate logo on the hotel's edifice, but in the lobby you'll find an attentive doorman, a working fireplace, and ultramodern furnishings—and the guest rooms feel similarly upgraded.
Plus The hotel is a few city blocks from iconic Chicago buildings such as the John Hancock Center and the long-standing Water Tower, a notable survivor of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Minus Standard rooms are extremely small. Two reasonably sized adults toting luggage may find it a tight squeeze.