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Freehand Chicago (Tokyo Hotel)
Photograph: Andrew NawrockiFreehand Chicago (Tokyo Hotel)

Chicago’s best budget hotels

Traveling on tight resources? Keep room rates down and save your money for the fun stuff at these low-cost Chicago hotels.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Cate Huguelet
&
Morgan Olsen
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If you think budget travel means dodgy digs in out-of-the-way places, get excited: Here in Chicago, there’s no need to sacrifice style and location in the name of value. With nightly rates that start at $150 or less, these hotels will go easy on your wallet while delivering features like million-dollar views, awesome gyms and world-class cocktail bars. And hey, with all of the money that you save by booking these affordable rooms, check out one of Chicago's best fine dining restaurants.

The best budget hotels in Chicago

Freehand Chicago
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

With rates that start at $79 for a private queen and just $25 for a bed in a shared dorm, you’d excuse a centrally-located property for shrugging off design and service. But at the Freehand, you can have your affordably priced cake and eat it too; the youthful River North hotel just happens to have a serious eye for style and a menu of amenities like free Wi-Fi and shared kitchen facilities. Guest rooms are done up in fresh white accented with warm wood wainscoting and colorful graphic wall hangings. Downstairs, the Broken Shaker—an outpost of the award-winning Miami cocktail bar—is a buzzing social hub for guests and locals alike. For the traveler looking to mix and mingle, there’s a full calendar of events like DJ parties and walking tours.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

With just six guest rooms (from $95), this urban inn may be petite, but it has an outsized personality. No two rooms are alike here, beginning with their footprint (which ranges from a snug 138 square feet to a comparatively palatial 351), but each shares a design aesthetic that tempers minimalism (think clean white walls and exposed brick) with quirk (vintage cassette players and mixtapes in larger rooms, offbeat original artwork throughout). Perhaps the property’s biggest selling point, though, is its proximity to Logan Square’s many acclaimed restaurants—not least, the one just downstairs.

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Acme Hotel Company Chicago
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • River North

Hardwood floors, mod furnishings, and in many cases, excellent city views lend a dash of cool to the rooms here, which start at $99 during the low season. But it’s the fun extras that really distinguish this River North spot. No need to stumble downstairs for your morning coffee, for instance, when hotel staff will happily deliver a steaming thermos to your room, gratis. And if you need a little tech upgrade, you can check out an Apple Watch or a portable Wi-Fi hotspot from the front desk. Come happy hour, head down to the Berkshire Room, a vintage-look lounge with a penchant for barrel-aged cocktails.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • River North

Located in the old "Borden Company" building, this new hotel/hostel hybrid with an emphasis on Chicago craftsmanship, food and drinks, boasts 53 rooms, including suites and apartments, eclectically designed public spaces, a cafe, vintage slot car machines and local artists' work throughout. Designed for those who are tired of the conventional hospitality experience or just not interested in paying exorbitant prices to stay in the Loop, FieldHouse Jones offers a stylish and bespoke alternative. The best part? All rooms start at under $100, with off-season prices dipping to $50–$60.

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • River North

There’s lots to love about this spot, starting with rooms (from $94) appointed with porthole mirrors, cheerful teal throws and charming accent walls depicting an illustrated map of Chicago. With a complimentary continental breakfast served on each floor plus a nightly cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception, you’ll be well-fed during your stay (though the River North location affords plenty of excellent options should you fancy dining out). Dog-lovers will delight in the hotel’s pup-centric services, from a doggie room service menu to canine photo shoot options.

  • Things to do
  • River North
  • price 3 of 4

Environmentally-friendly design elements like low-energy lighting and motion-activated climate control systems earned this wallet-friendly River North property (low season rates from $89) Silver LEED certification. No need to choose between eco-cred and style, though. Going on ambiance, you’d hardly suspect the hotel’s crunchy granola bonafides; from the super-modern lobby fireplace to the sleek guest room furnishings, it’s a sophisticated operation. An on-site spa adds an extra touch of luxe.

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Silversmith Hotel Chicago Downtown
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

The bauble dealers of surrounding Jeweler’s Row provide the central design conceit at this, er, gem of a property; expect rich decorative touches, like lustrous silver tufted headboards and soft furnishings in brilliant jewel tones, that belie downright reasonable rates (which start at $143 for 2018). Complimentary Wi-Fi, a 24-hour fitness center, and a location that’s in shouting distance from popular attractions like Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago further sweeten the deal.

Find some free things to do

  • Things to do

There's no denying that Chicago is a city where you can spend a paycheck or two (especially if you're having a meal at a fine dining restaurant), but it's also a place where you can experience some amazing attractions and events without spending a cent. Save your money by taking advantage of a few of the priceless experiences throughout the city.

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