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 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 experience. (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 and cramped and doesn’t offer great service.
- Amenities – Every hostel in town 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 who 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 that you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly, since 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 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 favorites, because they know exactly what we budget travelers want: affordable accommodations and 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, and there’s a fully equipped kitchen. The beds are comfy, with thick mattresses, and they offer free breakfast. It’s an all-around great hostel and my favorite in Chicago.
HI Chicago at a glance:
- Lots of amenities
- 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. There’s an outdoor patio with a BBQ, so you can grill 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 are super clean.
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 building from 1927, this hostel is immaculately designed and has tons of character. Freehand is definitely more of a boutique hostel, but it’s worth the price if you feel like treating yourself. The beds are cozy, the water pressure is strong, and the common areas are laid back. There’s also an award-winning cocktail bar on-site. 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, the staff can help you organize tours, and there’s free breakfast. In short, it has all the makings of your classic backpacker hostel. There’s a pub right off the lobby as well. The dorms aren’t huge, and the beds aren’t anything special, but it’s one of the more affordable places in town. Overall, 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 amenities (including a karaoke lounge), the vintage décor and huge collection of ’70s board games gives the hostel a very retro feel. It’s clean and quiet, and the beds are really comfortable. There are 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. Breakfast is included. There’s also 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 close by, so you can easily get around too.
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
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. 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. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. 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. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
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’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Chicago?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Chicago for even more planning tips!