America’s third largest city is a once in a lifetime experience in itself. Epic skyscrapers, amazing food, a proud culture, and some of the nicest people in the US – Chicago rocks!

But for being one of the most visited cities in America, Chicago only has a handful of hostels, and they can fill up rather quickly.

Which is exactly why we put together this insider guide to the 12 best hostels in Chicago.

With the help of this guide, you’ll know exactly which hostels are the best in Chicago.

Read on to find out how we determine the ‘best’ hostels in Chicago, and see which of the best hostels in Chicago made the list, so you can book up and save some money in the windy city!

We put these hostel-guides together to make them the best on the web.

Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Chicago

Best Hostels in Chicago
The Windy City is epic, and with the help of our guide to the best hostels in Chicago, you’ll be able to save money in what is typically an expensive city

How we picked the top hostels in Chicago

There are a lot of neighbourhoods in Chicago and choosing the ‘best’ anything can be tricky, so our process is aimed at helping travelers as best we can.

We did this in two ways…

  1. We only included the BEST hostels – There are some poorly reviewed hostels in Chicago. We made sure our list included only the highest reviewed, so you know that all of our recommendations are truly amazing properties that will enhance your time in Chicago.
  2. We then organized the hostels by YOUR needs – The Broke Backpacker is made by travelers, for travelers. This means we understand how travelers work – and truth be told, a lot of travelers are different! Some people travel alone, others in packs. Some travelers like to party up, and others just want to wind down. Whatever your travel style, we separated these hostels to make it even easier to identify which one is best for you!

And easy is good, because these hostels book up quickly. So read up, find the hostel you like and get booking so you can save some hard earned money while traveling to Chicago!

Be sure to read our awesome travel guide on Backpacking Chicago, which covers a 3-day itinerary, budget and travel tips, more information on where to stay, and how to get around!

Things DO go missing sometimes…

lock iconPsst! Heading to a hostel? Don’t forget to pack a padlock! It’s well worth having one so you can secure your locker and protect your stuff!


The 9 Best Hostels in Chicago

We’ve gone through the best hostels in Chicago and split them into handy hostel types, making your choice that bit easier. It’s now easy to spot the best Chicago hostel for solo travellers, Chicago’s best hostel for digital nomads, the best party hostel in Chicago, and more.

And remember, while we might label a hostel as ‘the best for couples’ doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome for solo travelers as well!  🙂

Overall Best Hostel in Chicago – Freehand Chicago

Freehand Chicago best hostels in Chicago
Freehand Chicago is our selection of one of the best hostels in Chicago
  • $$
  • Free Breakfast
  • Café & Bar
  • Bike Hire

The award-winning Freehand Chicago is one of the USA’s best hostels. our choice for the overall best hostel in Chicago in 2020. The dorms are small, sleeping just four people, and there are both mixed and female-only sleeping arrangements. There are private rooms too. With an onsite café, bar, and shared kitchen, there’s certainly no reason for you to go hungry here. Feeling active?

Hit the fitness centre. Looking to mingle and make new friends? Chill in the common room. Freebies include breakfast, Wi-Fi, and maps, and other plus points include laundry facilities, luggage storage, and bike hire. Key card access keeps this top hostel in Chicago secure and reception is staffed around the clock.

Best Hostel for Solo Travelers in Chicago – HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel

HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel
Loaded with activities and great for all types of budget travelers, HI Chicago is our highest hostel-recommendation for solo travelers in Chicago
  • $$
  • Free Breakfast
  • Café-Restaurant
  • Laundry Facilities

HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel is a top Chicago backpackers hostel for couples, solo travellers, and groups of friends. But It’s our choice for the best hostel for solo travellers in Chicago. There are single-sex dorms and rooms for two (with shared bathrooms) and it’s loaded with awesome facilities. Work, rest, or play, this hostel is ideal.

There’s a large kitchen and a cool common area where you can get to know others, and there are free walking tours and a program of activities for even more fun to add to your Chicago itinerary. Breakfast, luggage storage, toiletries, activities, and Wi-Fi are free. Do note that people who aren’t already members of Hostelling International will have to pay a slightly higher fee.

Best Cheap Hostel in Chicago #1 – Urban Holiday Lofts

Urban Holiday Lofts best hostels in Chicago
Low price but high value, Urban Holiday Lofts is one of the best hostels in Chicago on the cheap
  • $
  • Free Breakfast
  • Café
  • Laundry Facilities

Urban Holiday Lofts is the cheapest hostel in Chicago. The sociable backpackers’ pad is within an old renovated warehouse, giving it a certain industrial charm. There’s a large lounge where you can chill and chat with others, a well-equipped kitchen for whipping up some home comforts, free-to-use computers, and laundry facilities.

Breakfast is included in the prices and Wi-Fi is free too. There are dorms for males and females as well as private rooms (with shared bathrooms) for different group sizes. Definitely the best budget hotel in Chicago.

Best Cheap Hostel in Chicago #2 – Parthenon Hostel

Parthenon Hostel best hostels in Chicago
Another great option and second on our list of best cheap hostels in Chicago is Parthenon Hostel.
  • $
  • Free Breakfast
  • Restaurant-Bar
  • Lockers

As well as eight-bed single-gender dorms, those who prefer a bit more privacy at lights out can check into a single private room. Private rooms are also available for between two and six, all with shared bathrooms. Admission to Parthenon Hostel is by key card and the hostel is within walking distance of several Chicago sights.

The common area and onsite restaurant are ideal places to hang out and strike up a chat with fellow travellers. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are free and you can get discounts to local attractions, great for days out with new buds.

Best Cheap Hostel in Chicago #3 – Holiday Jones

Holiday Jones best hostels in Chicago
Holiday Jones is one of the best cheap hostels in Chicago because of the fantastic food on offer here!
  • $
  • Free Breakfast
  • Café-Restaurant
  • Laundry Facilities

Holiday Jones is a recommended hostel in Chicago that can be found in Wicker Park, a trendy area that’s within easy reach of the city centre. Start each day with a free breakfast before heading out to explore Chicago or recharging your batteries in the sociable common area. Veg in front of the TV or have a game of foosball to break the ice with other travellers.

There’s a kitchen if you want to keep costs down and cook your own grub and the lobby area is a great place to sit and check emails and keep in touch with people back at home.

Best Hostel for Couples in Chicago – FieldHouse Jones

FieldHouse Jones best hostels in Chicago
Set in an old dairy warehouse with cool art and decoration, we think FieldHouse Jones is a great hostel in Chicago for all travelers (especially couples!)
  • $$
  • Bar-Cafe
  • Games Room
  • Laundry Facilities

FieldHouse Jones is a unique youth hostel in Chicago in an old dairy warehouse. All rooms, including the four-bed dorms, are en-suite and have eye-catching artwork. The best hostel for couples in Chicago, the atmosphere and quirks make it quite romantic.

With self-catering facilities and a common room, you can save money with some DIY cooking and meet new people with ease. Other benefits include laundry facilities, luggage storage, free Wi-Fi, an onsite café-bar, and round-the-clock reception.

Best Party Hostel in Chicago – Wrigley Hostel

Wrigley Hostel best hostels in Chicago
The coolest hostel in Chicago is also the best party hostel in Chicago
  • $$$
  • Free Breakfast
  • Bar
  • Tour Desk

The hip and happening Wrigley Hostel is the best party hostel in Chicago. It’s the coolest hostel in Chicago too! A short swagger from the best of Chicago’s clubs, restaurants, and bars, the funky hostel also has its own lively bar in the common area.

Plus, you can enjoy a game of pool, ping pong or darts with your new pals. There are free BBQs each week as well as energetic pub crawls. Want to see more of the city by day? Join the free walking tour. Breakfast is included to help you feel better after the night before.

Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Chicago – Chicago Getaway Hostel

Chicago Getaway Hostel best hostels in Chicago
Located in hip Lincoln Park, the award-winning Chicago Gateway Hostel is a high value stay for all travelers (especially Digital Nomads!)
  • $$$
  • Free Breakfast
  • Bike Hire
  • Pool Table

The award-winning Chicago Gateway Hostel is a large hostel in the Lincoln Park area. There are mixed dorms for 12 and the hostel can accommodate more than 450 guests—there are certainly plenty of opportunities to meet lots of new friends in Chicago! Each bed has a reading light and power socket and all guests have a locker (BYO padlock if you don’t want to pay for one when here).

The huge kitchen has plenty of space for anyone wanting to cook their own meals and you can chill with popcorn at the nightly movie nights. The free Wi-Fi, range of seating areas, and computer stations make this the best hostel in Chicago for digital nomads. Breakfast is filling and free and other handy features include bike rentals, laundry facilities, key card access, and an elevator.

Best Hostel in Chicago with a Private Room – Found Hotel Chicago River North

Found Hotel Chicago River North best hostels in Chicago
Another one of the best hostels with a private room in Chicago is Found Hotel Chicago River.
  • $$
  • Restaurant and Bar
  • Luggage Storage
  • Key Card Access

Found Hotel Chicago River North is a stylish boutique hostel/hotel close to both downtown Chicago and the Magnificent Mile. There are en-suite four-bed dorms, with mixed and female-only options available, as well as private en-suite rooms for two. Access is by keycard, keeping this Chicago backpackers hostel safe, and there are housekeeping services to make sure everywhere is gleaming.

You’ll not only find a top-notch restaurant and a bar here, but there’s also a karaoke lounge where you can belt out all your favourite hits. The free airport transfers mean you don’t need to go through the hassle of finding a Chicago hostel near the airport—Bonus!

Best Budget Hotels in Chicago

Like we said, Chicago doesn’t have many hostels.

So if you’re still not completely convinced (or they are booked up), how about a Chicago hotel instead? There are hotels to suit all budgets in the Windy City. Here are three of our favourites.

The Best Budget Hotel in Chicago – Hollywood Sensation Home

Hollywood Sensation Home best hostels in Chicago
  • $
  • Paid Private Parking
  • Iron
  • Free Wi-Fi

Hollywood Sensation Home is a budget hotel in Chicago that offers everything you need for a good night’s sleep. Rooms share bathrooms and there’s also a shared kitchen. Wi-Fi is free. Each cosy room has storage space and plenty of homey touches. Entry to the house is by a keypad.

The Best Mid-Range Hotel in Chicago – Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace

Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace best hostels in Chicago
  • $$
  • Free Breakfast
  • Fitness Centre
  • Garden

Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace is a comfortable Chicago hotel with a wide choice of en-suite rooms and suites and great guest facilities. All rooms have a microwave, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, and a hairdryer. Some rooms have a hot tub!

Breakfast is free each morning. There’s a fitness centre onsite as well as a sauna and Jacuzzi. The garden is a cool place to relax.

The Best Splurge Hotel in Chicago – Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection

Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection best hostels in Chicago
  • $$$
  • Restaurant
  • Fitness Centre
  • Laundry & Dry Cleaning Services

Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection is a stylish and awesome hotel in Chicago, great for treating yourself to a little decadence and feeling fancy. All rooms are en-suite with comfy beds, a desk, a large TV, a coffee machine, and a safe. Wi-Fi is free.

The onsite restaurant serves plenty of seasonal dishes and cocktails. There’s a modern fitness centre and you should definitely check out the room service robots!

The Best Travel Backpack?!
Nomatic 30L Travel Bag

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

Read our full review!

What to Pack for your Chicago Hostel

We don’t often travel without these essentials.

Universal Adapter

1. Universal Travel Adapter: This universal travel adapter charges your devices in (pretty much) every country – definitely a lifesaver when travelling around the world. The plug also regulates the power output depending on which device you’re charging. No more fried hair dryers or electric razors!

Active Roots Water Bottle

2. Active Roots Water Bottle: Sturdy and durable, the Active Roots water bottle survives the roughest adventures while keeping your drink cold or hot for at least 24 hours. Vacuum-sealed and made from stainless steel, the bottle can fit 25oz, which is plenty to keep you hydrated. Super cool bonus: the bottle isn’t just super useful, it helps to reduce the single-use plastic waste – save the planet by filling up your bottle.

Travel Pillow

3. TRTL Travel Pillow: Nothing is worse than a sleep-deprived and grumpy backpacker. Do yourself a favour and get some decent rest with this comfortable TRTL travel pillow. The ergonomic design (fancy!) makes it possible to sleep upright, which can be a real struggle with normal neck pillows. Having this cool pillow makes long bus rides or flights way more enjoyable – and who knows, maybe you’ll even be looking forward to it next time. If so, leave those guys a good review.

AR Towel

4. Active Roots Microfiber Towel: Having your own towel on your travels is a game changer. The Active Roots Microfiber Towel is perfect for travellers who are looking for a lightweight, quick-drying and extremely soft option. The antibacterial material is super water-absorbent and resists odor buildup because of its antimicrobial material. Ain’t technology cool?

Travel Pocket Soaps

5. Sea to Summit Travel Soap: Soap can be very useful on long travels, but it’s hard to carry around. It might get taken off you at the airport or leak in your backpack. This Sea to Summit Travel Soap is the perfect solution for every backpacker with a thought for hygiene. The dry soap is super handy, and it definitely won’t leak (there’s nothing to leak). One box contains 50 leaves of soap, making sure that you’ll be clean, even on longer adventures.

Playing Cards

6. Playing Cards: These waterproof cards are essential kit for every backpacker. Play by the pool, beach or at your hostel after a long day with travel buds, without your cards breaking or getting soaked. And once you pull out those cards, the chance that you’ll be the hero of the night is pretty high (no promises though).

Why you should travel to Chicago

Chicago is epic. Your only danger (after gorging on amazing pizza) is missing out on a hostel!

Booking a hostel in Chicago is the most assured way to save money in an otherwise expensive city. Doing so will enable you to really enjoy Chicago, without worrying about spending too much cash.

So, which hostel are you going to book? Are you gunna go with the best hostel for solo travelers? Or how about the best party hostel in Chicago?

Still can’t pick? We understand. Our overall pick for best hostel in Chicago is Freehand Chicago. Just go with it – you won’t regret it.

Freehand Chicago best hostels in Chicago

Travel Safety Tips for Chicago

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance before heading to Chicago! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

world nomads insurance banner

More Epic Hostels in USA and North America

Hopefully, by now you’ve found the perfect hostel for your upcoming trip to Chicago.

Planning an epic trip all across USA or even North America itself?

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

For more cool hostel guides around North America, check out:

Over to you

By now I hope our epic guide to the best hostels in Chicago has helped you choose the perfect hostel for your adventure!

If you think we’ve missed anything or have any further thoughts, hit us up in the comments!

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps keep the site going.