I recently stayed at the HI Chicago Hostel as a way to save a little bit of cash during a one-night trip to Chicago. It was recommended to me by a friend, I read great reviews, and I could get a bed in an expensive city for under $40 a night. I was sold.
Before I arrived, I hadn’t thought much about the hostel, as I just needed a place to sleep for one night. One thing that drew me in was the location. HI Chicago is right in the heart of everything, so I could easily walk everywhere I needed. I loved that I didn’t have to hassle with cabs or trains. When I arrived at the hostel, I was immediately greeted with a “Hello!” and a friendly atmosphere. It looks like your typical building from the outside, but the lobby has a very open, modern feel.
The front desk staff was super friendly, and it showed they wanted my experience in Chicago to be a good one. They asked where I was from and what I was doing in town, then gave me some recommendations of bars, restaurants, and other things I should check out before I left. HI Chicago was even hosting some free events inside the hostel for guests. Since I lived in a dorm in college, I knew what to expect from the hostel and communal living in general. While they do have private rooms, I chose one of the cheaper options. I stayed in an eight person suite that resembled your typical college dorm, only it was a little bit nicer than any dorm I’ve ever lived in. Since I was in a suite, we had a large common living area attached to the bathroom area. There were two open sinks next to the bathroom, with the toilet and shower being together in the actual bathroom. The two bedrooms were attached to the main living suite, and both had doors. Inside were four beds a piece, in bunk style, and two closets. One closet had ample hanging room to hang garments, and the other closet had four lockers to keep your things. Clean linens and towels are complimentary, as well as free breakfast and WiFi.
I felt very safe staying at HI Chicago. During all hours, a room key is required to access not only your room, but any elevator. After dark, a room key is required to enter the actual hostel. I checked out the website before my trip and found out they had lockers, so I brought my own combination lock to be sure my things were safe.
HI Chicago has a self-service kitchen and dining area that guests can use, and there is also a small café attached to the lobby. There are several restaurants within walking distance. There is an option to become a member of Hostelling International. If you choose not to become a member, you are charged three dollars per night. However, for only $28 a year, you can become a member and have access to tons of member benefits. My favorite is the second night free when you book two or more nights!
Most travelers are eager to save a few bucks when traveling, and staying at a hostel is definitely a great way to do so. I’ve only stayed at the HI Chicago, but there are Hostelling International hostels all over the United States, and in other countries as well. Check them out on twitter at @HostelChicago, or at www.hichicago.org for more info.