“ 24 East Congress Parkway / Chicago / Illinois 60605 / Mail Address: P.O. Box 0452 Chicago / Illinois 60690 / Fon: 1-312-360-0300 / Fax: 1-312-360-0313. „
It can be a struggle to find affordable hotel rooms in big cities especially if you are travelling alone and when I went in April 2009 the exchange rate was around $1.40 to £1 making it even more expensive. Hostelling isn't everybody's cup of tea but is definetly worth considering as an option.
The J. Ira and Nikki Harris Family Hostel is part of the HI (hostelling international) network. It is located in "The Loop" - the main downtown area of Chicago - in a building dating from 1886. There are 500 beds in single sex rooms ranging between 6 and 10 beds, most have bathrooms and showers ensuite others have shared facilities. Each bed has a locker allocated to it for your valuables - they aren't big enough to take your entire bag though (unless you pack very light) and you need to take your own lock with you. The rooms were clean and comfortable, there were plenty of power points for charging mobile phones, laptops ect.
There are small communal areas on each floor with a larger seating area, dining room and kitchen on the second floor. Breakfast is free and very good - typical american fare such as bagels and muffins with coffee and juice. The kitchen has plenty of storage and space to cook your own meals. There is free wifi throughout the hostel and internet kiosks for those without a laptop. ($6/hour)
The staff were very friendly and helpful - I arrived an hour and a half before check in time and was very greatful to be able to check in early as I had been travelling for over 12 hours. There were organised events most nights - comedy evenings, poetry slam, a pizza and ice cream evening and a pub crawl. These provided oppertunity to meet other travellers and get an insiders perspective on Chicago's night life. The hostel also offered walking tours and other excursions daily.
The hostel is a short walk from the subway station where you can get the train directly to and from O'Hare airport. It is also handy for the El (elevated train), Amtrak and Greyhound bus terminal. The area always felt safe to walk around and is convenient for many of the main sights such as the Sears Tower, Art Institute and Millenium Park. There are plenty of restaraunts, bars and coffee shops locally including one in the lobby of the hostel.
There is no curfew and reception is manned 24 hours. Under 18's must be accompanied by an adult and if you aren't a HI member you will need to pay an extra $3/night. Rates range between $29 - $35 plus taxes, there are sometimes offers available. You can book online or over the phone but groups over 10 need to contact the hostel directly.
A good budget option.