Looking for where to stay in Chicago we certainly weren’t short of options. Despite usually swaying towards an Airbnb, it seemed that to find a good, central spot in the city it would be best to go with a hotel.
This is where the Freehand Chicago came in, which by a pure plight of luck appeared on Secret Escapes a few weeks before our trip, despite the fact I’d already reserved a spot there on Booking.com. I swiftly swapped the bookings round to take advantage of the deal, which was pretty nifty at £200 for a 4 night stay (half the price of what I had already reserved initially). City and tourism tax was also pre-paid which meant we didn’t have any extra costs to worry about on check out.
So, here are the basics:
The Freehand hotel chain has several spots around the USA, and they appear to cater for several accommodation options. When booking there is the option for a ‘bunk’ in a dorm room, which from their pictures appears like a very high-end hostel setup, all the way up to a penthouse floor which despite all my searching I actually can’t find the prices for…
For our Queen Room we paid £200 via Secret Escapes which was half the original price. The room was nicely decorated, especially the bathroom which was tiled in a deep green. I have to admit by American hotel standards it was quite small for a bedroom, but at least we still had a huge bed within it.
The hotel’s vibe is relaxed and easy going – with a strong sense that they’re really trying to be cool. We stopped by the bar, The Broken Shaker, on the first night to enjoy some cocktails. They also had a coffee shop in the foyer which was always bustling in the morning, despite the fact we couldn’t buy a cup of tea there…
In the elevators there were advertisements for the DJ sets in the bar in the upcoming week, in addition to an advert for ‘yoga and tequila’ which to be honest if we’d have been there I would’ve been up for it…
Not only was there the Broken Shaker and the coffee shop at the front of the building, but also a Photobooth (which we obviously had to use) in the middle, and a large communal area at the back complete with piano and board games. They also had a communal kitchen in the basement which had a kettle and filter coffee, toasters with complimentary bread in addition to fruit and cereal. If you’re in Chicago on a budget then I’d definitely direct you towards the Freehand, as this free breakfast would be hard to come by elsewhere!
The location of the hotel is also a big advantage – right next to the ‘Magnificent Mile’ it’s a great spot – even if you’re not there to do any shopping. We felt like it was a great starting point to start a day of exploring, being able to walk back from the Navy Pier or down to the riverside walk all from our hotel. If you follow South down the Magnificent Mile you can find yourself at Millennium Park with the infamous Cloud Gate structure (The Bean).
It was also right next to Pizzeria Uno which I would heartily recommend if you’re after some Chicago deep dish pizza (and why wouldn’t you be?). It’s also accompanied by Pizzeria Due on the other side of the road if the original place gets too full. The majority of stops we chose to eat at in Chicago were quite central and still close to the hotel, so it was easier to hot-foot it home once the jetlag hit and you wanted to get back.
Overall, if you’re heading to Chicago for a visit I’d recommend the Freehand Chicago if you need a good, budget option hotel with a nice vibe inside. I think it would be hard to find a cheaper deal for the amount of complimentary features in a hotel. Also, if you’re a solo traveller then the dorm rooms and communal areas would be a benefit to making new friends in the city.
Thanks for reading x