Posted: 5/23/2020 | May 23rd, 2020
Boasting a robust food scene (don’t miss Chicago-style pizza), fun nightlife, and plenty of green space, Chicago is not only one of my favorite cities in the US — it’s one of my favorite cities in the world! While the winters here are harsh, it’s a beautiful, green city in the summer that offers visitors a plethora of things to see and do.
I’ve been visiting Chicago for a decade and have stayed in a lot of hostels here. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The four most important criteria when picking the best hostel in Chicago are:
- Location – Chicago is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
- Price – In Chicago, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
- Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and most have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
- Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!
To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in Chicago that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:
Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: HI Chicago
Best Hostel for Families: HI Chicago
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: Freehand Chicago
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: Chicago Getaway Hostel
Best Hostel for Partying: Wrigley Hostel
Best Overall Hostel: HI Chicago
Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in Chicago:
Price Legend (per night)
- $ = Under $40 USD
- $$ = $40-50 USD
- $$$ = Over $50 USD
1. HI Chicago (The J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Hostel)
HI Hostels are some of my favorite hostels to stay at because they know exactly what we budget travelers want. Their accommodations are affordable and they have all the amenities we need to enjoy our stay. HI Chicago is no exception. They organize a free walking tour (and other weekly activities such as pub crawls and jazz bar tours), the common areas are spacious, they have a fully-equipped kitchen, the beds are comfy with thick mattresses, and they offer free breakfast. You can walk anywhere in the city within 30 minutes too! It’s an all-around great hostel and my favorite one in Chicago.
HI Chicago at a glance:
- Lots of ammenities
- Social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
- Organizes lots of activities
Beds from $32 USD a night, rooms from $85.
2. Wrigley Hostel
This is a lively hostel with a bar on-site, making it a good place to stay for any night owls looking to enjoy the city’s nightlife. They have an outdoor patio with a BBQ so you can grill up burgers when the weather is nice and they organize walking tours and day trips. The dorm beds aren’t great (the mattresses are thin and the beds are squeaky) but the staff are awesome and the free breakfast is delicious. While the shower pressure was weak, the bathrooms were clean which is a fair trade if you ask me! The hostel is also close to public transportation so you can easily get around the city too.
Wrigley Hostel at a glance:
- Bar on-site
- Organizes tours and activities
- Free breakfast
Beds from $36 USD a night, rooms from $141.
3. Freehand Chicago
Housed in a historic build from 1927, the hostel is immaculately designed and has tons of character. They have an award-winning cocktail bar on-site which is a fun place to hang out and relax. Freehand is definitely more of a boutique hostel, but it’s worth the price if you feel like treaing yourself. It’s not super social here but the beds are cozy, the water pressure is strong, and the common areas are laid back. It’s the coolest hostel in the city.
Freehand Chicago at a glance:
- Female-only dorms for added privacy and security
- Cocktail lounge
- Beautiful interior design
Beds from $45 USD a night, rooms from $173.
4. Parthenon Hostel
Located in Greektown, Parthenon has a large common room with a huge TV and lots of books, can help you organize tours, and offers free breakfast. In short, it has all the makings of your classic backpacker hostel. There’s a pub right off the lobby as well, which is a good place to hang out and meet other travelers. The dorms aren’t huge and the beds aren’t anything special, but the place is one of the more affordable in the city so you get what you pay for. They have a female-only dorm as well. It’s clean, comfortable, safe, and in a good location.
Parthenon Hostel at a glance:
- Female-only dorms for added privacy and security
- Super comfy beds
- Great location
Beds from $34 USD a night, rooms from $90.
5. Found Chicago
While they have lots of modern ammenities (including a karaoke lounge), the vintage decor and huge collection of 70’s boardgames gives the hostel a very retro feel. It’s clean, quiet, and the beds are really comfortable. There’s laundry facilities on-site and the bathrooms are modern and clean (which is rare for hostels!). It definitely has more of a hotel feel to it, making it a good choice for anyone looking for a quieter, more luxurious stay.
Found Chicago at a glance:
- Clean and quiet
- Beautiful vintage interior
- Really helpful staff
Beds from $63 USD a night, rooms from $294.
6. Chicago Getaway Hostel
While the rooms here are nothing special, the hostel has a big common area and is in a great location. Free breakfast is included and they have a board to let you know what’s happening in the city during your visit. It’s not super social so it’s good choice for travelers looking for something more quiet. Public transportation is closeby so you can easily get around too. Best of all, it’s the cheapest hostel in the city!
Chicago Getaway Hostel at a glance:
- Free breakfast
- Good location
- Lots of common space
Dorms from $21 USD, rooms from $79 USD per night.
No matter what kind of budget you have you’ll be able to find a hostel that works for you and your travel style.
Book Your Trip to Chicago: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!
Looking for more information on visiting Chicago?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Chicago with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!