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Ah, Chicago; the city of the Cubs, Al Capone, and the musical of the same name. Oh, and of course the home of deep-dish pizza! Those looking to visit the Windy City are in good company, with nearly 58 million people making a beeline there last year.
But with 77 distinct community areas, working out where to stay in this city can be tricky.
That’s why our travel pros have written this insider guide for where to stay in Chicago, so you know the best neighborhood to pick, based on what matters to you!
Planning your accommodation should be stress-free so you can get on with the important stuff, like working out which pizza you’ll be having.
So let’s get to it; by the end of this article, you’ll navigate the city like a pro, knowing exactly where to stay in Chicago!
Table of Contents
Where to stay in Chicago your first time – The Loop
Where to stay in Chicago on a budget – West Town
Best area to stay in Chicago for nightlife – River North
Coolest place to stay in Chicago – Bucktown
Best neighborhood in Chicago for families – Lincoln Park
Not worried about where you’ll be and just looking for a fit for you? Check out our top picks for Chicago in general!
The modern rooms at Carlton Inn Midway feature a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, and a refrigerator. They provide ironing facilities, a telephone, and tea and coffee making facilities.
A satisfying breakfast is served each morning, and there are numerous restaurants and eateries nearby.
Situated within walking distance of Diversey Railway Station, this comfortable bed and breakfast is an ideal base for those wanting to explore Chicago and its surrounds. It also offers a sun deck and a Jacuzzi.
Villa D’Citta provides elegant accommodation in addition to a library, a concierge, and luggage storage. It also features a garden and a lift.
Rooms at Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront are chic, air-conditioned, and provide wireless internet access.
This hotel features a restaurant and bar where guests can unwind of an evening with dinner and a drink. A choice of cafés and restaurants are also found in the surrounding area.
Located in the state of Illinois in the US Midwest, Chicago is the giant on the shores of Lake Michigan.
It’s a sprawling city of industry that has hauled itself up from the ashes (literally – a giant fire burned it down in the 19th century) to be what it is today.
Chicago is the third most populous city in the US and the second most visited. It’s not hard to see why when you look at the sheer range of tastes the city caters for.
It’s a foodie heaven, a sporting Mecca, a shopper’s dream, and it’s got more public art than a culture-lover could shake a stick at!
Chicago is almost as famous for its many neighborhoods, each with its own culture and vibe.
There’s Pilsen, where vibrant street art and Hispanic culture have a home, along with the best Mexican food in town. Gold Coast is always a favorite with the crowds, with its sparkling lake setting the scene for the homes – and playgrounds – of the rich and fabulous.
Then again, Ukrainian Village might be more your style, with trendy boutiques next to fancy historic churches. Roscoe Village is perfect for older parents wanting to hunt out some antiques while the younger adults party the night away in Boystown. Or how about Wrigleyville for the sports?
Whatever you’re into, Chicago has an entire area – or two – just for you!
Chicago’s official downtown area, The Loop is perfect for first-timers; you’ll find all you could want on your doorstep. This is the CBD of one of the US’s largest cities, and as such, it’s just as busy, noisy, and exciting as you’d imagine!
The Loop is named after the train line that encircles this area, so it’s easy to get yourself in, around, and out of the city.
West Loop will have your mouth watering, as it is home to many culinary delights – particularly those found in Greektown. It’s also known for its speakeasy bars and other forms of eclectic nightlife.
South Loop is the land of the high-rises and has come a long way from the days when it was known as Satan’s Mile. It’s also made a name as a tourist attraction hotspot, housing aquariums, planetariums, and museums.
While staying in The Loop, you absolutely have to get yourself to Millenium Park, with its iconic Cloud Gate metallic sculpture (hint: to fit in with the locals, just call it ‘The Bean’). It also lies near Lake Michigan, so how about taking a stroll down the riverwalk on your way home from a performance in Chicago’s only official theatre district?
The walk itself is a work of art, having been cleverly designed to allow for free walking, as well as boasting areas to rest and people-watch. The many bars and restaurants along the way help a bit too!
The Congress Plaza Hotel is conveniently located, offering easy access to many of the city’s hotspots. Its rooms provide sweeping views of the city.
Right on the lake, this hotel offers a valet service and fitness center, while the onsite restaurant and bar will help you settle in right away.
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The Best Western Grant Park Hotel offers spacious rooms with a range of cable/satellite channels, heating, and private bathrooms. Onsite facilities include a swimming pool and a fitness center.
The staff, who are available 24 hours, can help you book tickets or tours to anything in the city you might wish.
This 4-star hotel within walking distance of much that The Loop has to offer provides a 24-hour reception, valet parking, and babysitting/child services. Additional amenities include a ticket service, a concierge, and luggage storage.
All rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with a mini bar and cable/satellite channels.
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Slightly north-west of the central city, you’ll find West Town, more a cluster of sub-regions than one individual neighborhood. The prices are a touch more manageable for those on a budget, while you’re still in easy reach of everything the rest of the city has to offer.
Wicker Park (more on this later) is a cool area on the northern edge of West Town, and is sure to appeal to the hipster in you. That bohemian flair can also be found in Humboldt Park with its indie bookstores.
In fact, you won’t find any large chain stores on the 1.6 mile stretch of Chicago Avenue running through this region. So, for those not all too keen on globalization, this is the perfect street to take a stroll down and pop in for a look at what the independent traders have in stock.
Ukrainian Village is where you can find amazing ethnic foods and hip nightspots. Settled by Ukrainian and Polish immigrants in the 19th and early 20th century, it has retained the look and feel of its cultural heritage, though is now home to people from all over the world. Keep a look out for the eye-catching churches that dot the area.
Culture is alive and well and living in West Town. There are a number of smaller theatre companies vying with intimate music venues, and a bunch of hip coffee shops waiting to serve them all!
Holiday Jones has comfortable rooms that are ideal for travelers on a budget. After settling into their room, guests can explore the area by using the Division Subway Station, which is a brief stroll from the hostel.
On-site dining options include a restaurant, which is a convenient spot to have a meal. In the evening, guests can enjoy a drink in the comfortable lounge bar.
The area surrounding Holiday Jones is well-known for its nightlife, with plenty of places to go for a drink or dance.
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The bed & breakfast’s rooms are spacious and offer a kitchenette equipped with a refrigerator and microwave. All rooms have a private bathroom and wireless internet access.
Wicker Park Inn Chicago is close to Damen Railway Station, making it easy for guests to explore Chicago and its surrounding areas.
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Ace Hotel Chicago provides a laundry service and luggage storage.
The hotel, which is called ‘exceptional’ in recent guest reviews, has modern rooms that are accompanied by a range of essential amenities to ensure guests have a comfortable stay.
Those staying at Ace Hotel Chicago can unwind at the on-site bar, suitably based for a drink.
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River North puts you right in the center of things while giving you a taste of the high-life. You’ve got the world-class shopping of the aptly named ‘Magnificent Mile’ at your doorstep, and it is second only to Manhattan in the quality of the art galleries.
That’s your days sorted, then.
River North is the best-known nightlife area in all of Chicago, having long been a heavyweight in the after-hours entertainment stakes. There is something for everyone here, from comedy clubs to tapas bars; from craft cocktail lounges to country and western joints – and everything in between!
The fine-dining of River North is well known, as you can while away hours, or an entire night, with the many degustation menus about and their matching wines. There’s no better place to lose track of time with friends, family, or your significant other, than amongst the glitz and glam of this district.
Hubbard Street is an icon for visitors and locals alike. Beyond 8 pm, weekday or weekend, on Hubbard Street all bets are off. It’s the perfect place to catch up with friends or go bar-hopping.
People from all walks of life find their way here, so you can find business executives passing the newly minted college crowd on the way to their chosen venues (which usually aren’t the same). So rest assured, whoever you are, you’ll fit right in!
This 4-star hotel makes for an ideal base in Chicago. Guests have called it ‘a prime location in the heart of downtown’ Rooms are air-conditioned, and a Wi-Fi connection is included free of charge.
Hotel Felix features a 24/7 reception, an onsite fitness room, and a wellness center.
This retro designed hotel is surrounded by a variety of restaurants and cafés and is within a 10-minute walk of Merchandise Mart Railway Station.
It’s facilities, alongside its funky decor, include a wellness center, spa, and billiards.
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Rooms at The Langham Chicago are luxurious and air-conditioned, offering a mini bar, wireless internet access, and slippers. They all have a desk, an alarm clock, and heating. The hotel itself also features a sauna, an indoor pool, and a Jacuzzi.
The hotel treats guests to a variety of deluxe amenities, such as a limousine service and Chuan Spa.
Street art and long, leisurely brunches; this is, without a doubt, the coolest neighborhood in Chicago, if not the States. Inseparable from its sister village, Wicker Park (see above), the two are actually divided by North Avenue, though similar in the crowds they attract.
Bucktown reportedly got its name from the male goats, or ‘bucks,’ belonging to the Polish immigrants that largely founded the area in the 1800s. Repeated waves of immigration – Jewish in the first half of the 20th century, then Latino after 1960 – have kept this neighborhood alive and thriving.
Now home to artists and musicians who were seeking the lower rents while still in easy reach of downtown, Bucktown is one of the easiest neighborhoods to navigate within and out of to access the rest of the city.
It’s also known, along with Wicker Park, for its nightlife scene, housing eclectic combinations of bars, pubs, and clubs. Earlier in the day, however, you see scores of young people exiting brunch spots, merry from the midday drinks and ready to move to the next hip venue.
To explore this uber-cool neighborhood, you’ll want to stride the length of either Damen, Milwaukee, or North Street, each with their own calling cards and all just as engaging. The architecture, like most of Chicago, is also worth a look. One of our picks, The Robey, is known for its Art Deco design.
Only 15 minutes from downtown, Bucktown deserves its current 15 minutes of fame as the coolest spot to be in Chicago!
Ray’s Bucktown Bed and Breakfast (with a whopping 9.9 rating from hundreds of reviews online) has rooms that are equipped with everything you might need to ensure an enjoyable stay.
Those wishing to have a meal nearby needn’t look any further than Ray’s on-site restaurant, which is available every day for breakfast.
There are a range of facilities available for those staying at this hotel, including a limousine service and laundry service – not to mention the swimming pool exclusively for guest use.
The rooms are air-conditioned and include a refrigerator, a laptop safe, and tea and coffee making facilities. Bathrobes are also included for comfort.
Located in an iconic art-deco building that dominates the skyline for miles around, staying in The Robey is a cultural experience.
The Robey’s rooms are fitted with all the essentials to ensure a comfortable stay. There’s also an outdoor pool for guest use.
Those staying at this 4-star property can wake up to a satisfying breakfast served each morning before heading out from the hotel to explore the local region.
Not the band from the late nineties but the neighborhood in Chicago, Lincoln Park is the ideal blend of all a family could want when visiting a big city. Currently the most fashionable place to live in the city, it’s high end, but also very family-friendly.
It has become very popular with 20-something and 30-something crowds looking to start families. The area is known for its schools; this is great for the locals, and also offers visitors a sense of safety in a big and unknown city.
Lincoln Park is well-connected, meaning you are never far away from the major tourist spots in the CBD if you wish, but you also have the quieter, leafier areas to hang in.
Named for the largest park in Chicago that resides right there, it is also home to a large number of University students. These facts combined mean plentiful facilities for energetic youngsters. You can hike a bunch of trails, go cycling, or picnic in the vast green areas that populate Lincoln Park. On the eastern side is North Avenue beach, skirting the edge of Lake Michigan, for those warmer days.
Each of the residential areas has its own shopping hub, so there’s no single great thoroughfare. This is perfect for families who like to get to know their own corner of a city without having to rely on Google Maps just to find the nearest supermarket.
For the kids (and adults) there is Lincoln Park Zoo. This 35-acre attraction is home to over 1200 animals, and it’s free! It’s very walkable, so you can cover a lot of ground before young legs get tired.
Each room is set out like a French country manor house, with all the necessary bells and whistles to provide a comfortable stopover.
This hotel is also close to Wrigley Field, so ideally located for the sports fans!
The rooms here are decorated in a funky, pop-culture style with references to Chicago icons and sports. The hotel is close to the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Hotel Versey Days Inn Chicago has modern rooms that are fitted with all the necessities to ensure a pleasant stay. Hot drinks can be made with the provided tea and coffee supplies.
An apartment rather than a hotel, this accommodation is perfectly suited to a family trip. With two bedrooms and a large lounge room, there is space for everyone.
With TV, dining table, and kitchen, the family can eat in, or take a bit longer over breakfast when starting the day.
Chicago is a city with a bewildering array of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct flavor. Thanks to our guide, you’ll now be able to suss your stay like a local. Why not venture further afield once you’ve found your base through us? You might find a favorite new neighborhood to tell us about.
You’ll never get bored in this city by the lake. From sports and food to culture and music, there is truly something for everyone here!
Staying in our best overall hotel, The Robey, will see you stepping into history and taking a spot in Chicago’s skyline. Its iconic design and industrial beams capture the spirit of the city and the rugged entrepreneurs who built it.
That caps off our experienced travel team’s thoughts and recommendations on where to stay in Chicago. Oh, and make sure you get a selfie in front of The Bean!
“I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America.” – Sarah Bernhardt
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!