America’s third largest city is a once in a lifetime experience in itself. Epic skyscrapers, AMAZING food, (don’t miss out on deep dish pizza!) 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 5 best hostels in Chicago!

Read on to see which of the best Chicago hostels made the list, so you can book up and save some money in the windy city!

Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Chicago

Harold Washington Library Chicago

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What to Expect from Hostels in Chicago

Booking a hostel is one of the smartest choices you can make when deciding where to stay in Chicago. Why? Because aside from saving you more than $100 PER DAY, the vibe of a hostel is simply unmatched. Their fun, social vibes allow you to get to know travelers from all over the world in dorm rooms and comfy common spaces. This is a great way to find a travel buddy, or a group to enjoy the Windy City’s vibrant nightlife with.

When backpacking Chicago, you won’t find as many hostels as in cities on other continents, but the city still has a solid network of hip options to choose from. From party hostels to modern sleek designs ideal for digital nomads, Chicago hostels may not be as heavily themed as other cities, but instead can (mostly) cater to all types of travelers.

aerial shot offowntown chicago at sunset hostels in chicago
Staying in a Chicago hostel means you get to spend more $ exploring the city itself!

Traveling in the USA is expensive, so staying in hostels is essential to stick to a low budget. Luckily, the ones in Chicago are some of the highest-ranked hostels in the entire country. Which means you’ll get the most affordable lodging in Chicago AND a fun, clean, and comfortable atmosphere to go with it.

Most hostels in Chicago feature dorms, which can sleep anywhere from 4-12 people. The general rule is: the bigger the dorm, the cheaper the nightly rate. If you choose a private room in a Chicago hostel, expect to pay close to $100, which is a bit pricy but cheaper than any hotel of the same quality.

Here’s the average price you can expect to pay for a hostel in Chicago:

  • Private Rooms: $80-$115
  • Dorms (mixed or female only): $28-$50

As you’re searching for your perfect hostel, you’ll find most Chicago hostels on HOSTELWORLD. If you’re not familiar with the platform, it’s the best place to find out what a hostel is. Each listing is filled with photos, and includes detailed reviews from prior guests. To find the best hostels in Chicago, check out these three neighborhoods:

  • The Loop – Also known as Downtown, this is the perfect base for first-timers
  • Streeterville – for the budget backpackers
  • River North – offers the best nightlife action

You’ll quickly find that staying close to the places to visit in Chicago makes for the best trip, so doing some research beforehand goes a long way. And because the Windy City doesn’t have as many options as say, Amsterdam, I’ve included some top hotel choices too!

The 5 Best Hostels in Chicago

I’ve gone through the best hostels in Chicago and split them into handy hostel types, making your choice a bit easier whilst backpacking the USA. You’ll see the best Chicago hostel for solo travelers, Chicago’s best hostel for digital nomads, the best party hostel in Chicago, and so on.

Let’s get into them!

Freehand Chicago – Overall Best Hostel in Chicago

Freehand Chicago best hostels in Chicago
Freehand Chicago is one of the best hostels in the USA.

The award-winning Freehand Chicago is one of the USA’s best hostels. our choice for the overall best hostel in Chicago in 2024, as it really does have it all! Freehand has been operating since 2015, and its team KNOWS what backpackers really want and need.

Housed in a 1927 building, Freehand is filled with modern decor along with a nice dose of old-school charm. The hostel has plenty of amenities that will satisfy virtually all travelers and even boasts a cocktail bar. Plus, its central location makes it the perfect place to kick off virtually any Chicago itinerary.

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Located near Michigan Avenue
  • Insta-worthy design
  • Cocktail bar

Freehand caters to all travelers, and most likely has at least something that appeals to you. Free breakfast, high-speed Wi-Fi, and other facilities like a laundry room, luggage storage, and bicycle rentals are just some of the things that you’ll find during your stay. Key card access keeps this top hostel in Chicago secure and reception is staffed around the clock. With an onsite café, a bar, and a shared kitchen, there’s certainly no reason for you to go hungry (or thirsty) here. Feeling active? Just hit up the on-site fitness center! See it really wasn’t a joke when I said that Freehand does in fact have it all.

Digital nomads will also appreciate the trendy common area which also features a TV and plenty of couches for your quintessential hostel jam-seshes.

You can choose between two options: dorms or private rooms. Keep in mind that the 4-person dorms are small, with both mixed and female-only sleeping arrangements. There are also private rooms, which are spacious and comfortable but will absolutely take the “budget backpacker friendly” part out of the deal.

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

HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel
Loaded with activities and great for all types of budget travelers, HI Chicago is the best hostel for solo travelers in Chicago

HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel is the best Chicago hostel for solo travelers in 2024! Its stunning design complete with many pleasing common rooms makes it easy to meet other travelers from all over the world.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to co-work, or want to just shoot the shit with some fellow adventurers, there’s no better hostel in Chicago to do so than HI Chicago. Pool and ping pong tables along with other activities add to the social atmosphere here, as this is a company that truly knows what solo backpackers want and need in their hostels! (A rarity in the US, tbh.)

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Incredible common spaces
  • Centrally located
  • Plenty of activities to choose from!

HI also has a pretty sweet cafe and restaurant on-site, along with daily free breakfast. There are single-sex dorms with space for anywhere from 4-10 people as well as private rooms for two (with shared bathrooms). Work, rest, or play: this Chicago hostel has it all.

It’s also a fantastic choice for solo female travelers as dorms are split by gender, which always adds a layer of security when bunking it with strangers.

Besides its stunning modern design, HI also has super-fast free Wifi and a safe Chicago location near several universities. Do note that people who aren’t already members of Hostelling International will have to pay a slightly higher fee.

Wrigley Hostel – Best Party Hostel in Chicago

Wrigley Hostel best hostels in Chicago
The coolest hostel in Chicago is also the best party hostel in Chicago

The hip and happening Wrigley Hostel is the best party hostel in Chicago, and it’s easy to see why. Located in Wrigleyville, the party center of the Windy City, Wrigley Hostel is but a short swagger from the best of Chicago’s bars, clubs, and restaurants.

It’s also right across the street from Wrigley Stadium, making it the perfect choice for anyone looking to hit up a ball game. What’s more, is that the red line metro is only a 2-minute walk away, so you can easily explore other parts of the city too.

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Super social vibes
  • Incredible location
  • Funky design

Whether you’re looking to grab some happy hour beers with new mates or party the night away at a fancy club, you can get started right in the hostel as it has its own on-site bar!

Plus, you can enjoy a game of pool, ping pong, or darts in the common areas. Wrigley also offers social events like BBQs on their epic outdoor deck as well as energetic pub crawls.

Want to see more of the city by day? Rent a bicycle! Another sweet amenity is the free Sunday breakfast to help you feel better after a lit Saturday night.

Chicago Getaway Hostel – Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Chicago

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!)

The award-winning Chicago Getaway Hostel is a large hostel in the Lincoln Park area that’s the absolute best choice for digital nomads. The massive hostel can accommodate more than 450 guests—so needless to say, there are certainly plenty of opportunities here to meet new friends in Chicago! While it might not be the cheapest Windy City hostel to choose from, the amazing amenities and spacious chill areas make it ideal for almost anyone–but especially for those living the digital nomad life.

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • It’s HUGE!
  • Free Wi-Fi and computer stations
  • Movie nights

Chicago Getaway Hostel is the best choice for digital nomads thanks to its highly social atmosphere amazing workspaces. You for sure won’t find a better place to be productive than here, AND you’ll likely get to meet other nomads doing the same.

This extra-large hostel features a modern and airy design in one of Chicago’s coolest neighborhoods: Lincoln Park. Its huge kitchen has plenty of space to cook your own meals in, and makes it easy to be able to chill with popcorn at daily movie nights. Breakfast is filling and free, and you can also utilize laundry services and bicycles for an additional fee. Do note that while lockers are provided in the dorms, locks aren’t so bring your own travel lock to avoid an upcharge for the ones they sell.

Chicago Parthenon Hostel – Best Cheap Hostel in Chicago

modern living room set up in a historic old house backpacking chicago
The Parthenon is one of the cheapest hostels in Chicago.

Chicago Parthenon Hostel is the best cheap hostel in the Windy City because it has absolutely everything backpackers could want. Cheap prices, a chill common room with plenty of books, a central location, and even a pub in the lobby can all be found here! Dorm beds roll in at wallet-friendly prices, as Parthenon is one of the cheapest hostels in Chicago.

While it might not be as fancy as some of the city’s other top hostels, it’s affordable, cozy, and easy to venture out from as it’s located in the quiet and safe Greektown West Loop area.

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Backpacker friendly prices
  • On-site pub
  • Peaceful neighborhood

As well as eight-bed single-gender dorms, those who prefer a bit more privacy at lights out can check into a private room. Private rooms are also available with space for 2-6, all with shared bathrooms. For extra security, admission to Parthenon Hostel is by key card and the hostel is within walking distance of several of Chicago’s most iconic things to do.

The common area and onsite restaurant are ideal places to hang out and strike up a chat with fellow travelers. Wi-Fi is also free, and you can get discounts on drinks at the onsite pub as well as maps and touring info from the front desk.

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Aether Backpack

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Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

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Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

Hide Yo’ Money!

More Epic Hostels in Chicago

Not happy with the top picks? Don’t worry–a few more Chicago hostels are comin’ at ya! You should definitely find one that fits your needs after combing through them.

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

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.

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 favorite hits. The free airport transfers mean you don’t need to go through the hassle of finding a Chicago hostel near the airport—Bonus!

Hollywood Sensation Home – The Best Budget Hotel in Chicago

Hollywood Sensation Home best hostels in Chicago

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 cozy room has storage space and plenty of homey touches. Entry to the house is by a keypad.

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

Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection best hostels in Chicago
This stunning Chicago hotel choice is definitely worth the money.

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

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

Holiday Jones – Yet Another Cheap Hostel in Chicago

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!

Holiday Jones is a recommended hostel in Chicago that can be found in Wicker Park, a trendy area that’s within easy reach of public transit. Grab an empanada from the small cafe located inside the hostel or recharge your batteries in the sociable common area. After a long day of exploring Chicago, veg in front of the TV or have a game of foosball to break the ice with other travelers.

There’s a small 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 Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace – The Best Mid-Range Hotel in Chicago

Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace best hostels in Chicago

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 center onsite as well as a sauna and Jacuzzi. The garden is a cool place to relax.

What to Pack for your Chicago Hostel

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out our definitive Hostel Packing list for even more top hostel packing tips!

FAQ about Hostels in Chicago

Here are some of the most common questions (and their answers!) that backpackers ask about hostels in Chicago:

How much does a hostel cost in Chicago?

A dorm bed (mixed or female only) can cost anything between $28-$50. A private room will set you back a bit more, costing between $80-$115.

What are the best hostels in Chicago for couples?

Check out these ideal couple hostels in Chicago:
HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel
Chicago Parthenon Hostel

What is the best hostel in Chicago near the airport?

While there aren’t any hostels in Chicago that are particularly close to the airport, some offer airport shuttles or will help you arrange transport. Check the HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel, it’s close to major train and bus lines.

Travel Safety Tips for Chicago

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

More Epic Hostels in USA and North America

Hopefully, by now you’ve found the perfect hostel for your upcoming trip to Chicago. If not then perhaps consider a dope Chicago Airbnb or Chicago Motel?!

Planning an epic trip all across the USA or even North America itself? Don’t worry – The Broke Backpacker’s got you covered!

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

Final Thoughts on the Best Hostels in Chicago

Chicago is epic. Your only danger (aside from going too hard on a Chicago food tour) is missing out on a killer hostel!

You’ve got 5 (and many more) of the highest reviewed and best hostels in Amsterdam – so which are you going to choose?

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.

Hopefully, with the help of this list, you now have a better idea of what it is you are looking for in your Chicago hostel, and have a pretty good idea of which one is close to perfect for you!

Still can’t pick? I get it! The overall best hostel in Chicago is Freehand Hostel. Just go with it – it’s a fantastic choice for your Chicago trip!

Looking for more info on travelling to Chicago and USA?

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