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HI - Chicago Hostel

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Hostelz.com's Review
HI - Chicago Hostel is one of the largest hostels in one of the largest cities in America. This safe and friendly hostel welcomes travelers around the world from all walks of life. It includes all the standards of Hostelling International, but for just a few dollars more will also provide a great place to stay for non-members.

The Location

HI - Chicago is the most centrally located hostel downtown; most attractions are within walking distance. Although parking isn't offered, the receptionists are happy to call a taxi for you or give you walking or transit directions to anywhere you want to go. Because Chicago is difficult to drive, it has excellent pedestrian, bus, and train service, all of which are in close proximity to HI - Chicago. A train going by one side of the hostel around the clock can constantly awaken a light sleeper, but beside that, this area of town is fairly quiet for being such a major city.

Rooms and Bathrooms

Dorm rooms are kept fairly quiet; even in the largest ten-person dorm, most travelers could get some sleep at any time of day! Dorm rooms consist of bunk beds with assigned beds and coordinating lockers, which are large enough to hold most suitcases. Rooms are spacious, well lit, and, like the rest of the HI - Chicago Hostel, can access free Wi-Fi.

Gender-specific public restrooms are located on each floor. They are cleaned several times a day, although with the amount of traffic each restroom gets, they can get dirty fairly fast. While waiting for a shower may be necessary during peak times, they provide changing space, shelves and hooks, adjustable water temperatures, and free soap/shampoo.

One of the best features of HI - Chicago is the security. Each guest is given a key card to get to the upper levels of the hostel. Dorm floors can only be accessed by people staying on that specific floor, and rooms are also card-specific.

Common Spaces

The first floor is the reception area. Anyone can access this floor, including those who have already checked out. Locker rental, seating area, and information are available here. The second floor is accessible by any guests currently checked in and includes more information and seating areas, a library, a computer room, the kitchen, and conference rooms. Buffet-style breakfast is served every morning, and guests can use this large kitchen during the rest of the day. Smaller kitchens and eating spaces are also located on dorm floors. The entire hostel is smoke- and alcohol-free. Bulletin boards on each floor provide information for hostel activities and other helpful information.

Summary

If there is anything you need to know about Chicago, ask the staff on the first or second floor. Need a cab? They'll call one for you. Need a recommendation for a pizza joint? They'll give you a map and point out their favorites. Need to explore Chicago on the cheap? They sell discount tickets to many of the popular attractions, including the famous Willis Tower Skydeck. Although HI - Chicago has hundreds of beds, this is a popular destination and can be completely booked at times. Be sure to book early to ensure you get a bed!

by Jes
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
September 2014
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Location/Contact
How is HI - Chicago Hostel rated on other websites?
 OverallCleanlinessStaffLocationAtmosphereSecurity
Hostelworld  
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Hostels.com  
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HostelBookers  
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HostelsClub  
84%
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HI Hostels  
92%
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97%
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Average  
89%
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93%
HI - Chicago Hostel Reviews from the Web
Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
5   Tried and true great hostel This hostel is an ex hotel in a previous life. It is getting a bit older now but it has won many awards including being voted one year as the best hostel in the world. Because it is an ex hotel the rooms are large which is a nice change. All the facilities you would expect are here and your stay includes a free breakfast which is good. The location in the loop is pretty good with an easy and close subway connection to O'hare. My reception check in person was average but they also have a travel / Chicago experience guy on the 2nd floor to help you find your way around. Excellent overall, no complaints.  , age 50, New Zealand ()
5   Amazing place I've traveled and stayed in hostels all over, and this hostel blew my mind. It's absolutely massive, efficient, clean, amazingly well-organized, friendly, informative and the location is ridiculously perfect. Because of the size, you are granted a degree of anonymity and can just do your own thing without coming across as unfriendly; it's not really a cozy little place where you'll necessarily automatically get to know the people around you naturally, though I'm sure there are plenty of opportunities to do so easily if that's what you want to do as there seemed to be a fair amount of activities planned, and there is definitely ample social community room to gather and strike up a conversation. The mention of bedbugs put me off a bit, but for what it's worth, I had no problems whatsoever. While it can still happen because it can happen anywhere (even luxury hotels), the place definitely isn't infested or anything. I also find it hard to imagine the people being rude (they were incredibly friendly and helpful on my arrival and departure, to me and others) and the bathrooms being dirty -- they were impeccable when I was there. Good spot, I'd definitely stay there again and would recommend it highly to friends and family.  , USA ()
5   Great Hostel This hostel has everything one needs, and access to much more. Between the in-house resources, professionalism of the staff, and the surrounding neighborhood, a stay at HI Chicago makes it unlikely to have "technical difficulties" with your travels. The rooms are more spacious, and the beds are quite a bit bigger and sturdier than most American hostels I've come across. There are plenty of in-room electrical outlets, which was a major plus for me. Everything felt comfortable; they even had some unattractive remodeling going on while I was there, and I still loved it. An interesting but neutral fact -- this hostel probably attracts the most diverse age range of guests among the others in Chicago, skewing older. If asked to nitpick, this would be my criticism of choice (and it has more to do with guest responsibility than the administration) -- I understand that free breakfast is a privilege and not a right. However, people should be discouraged from spending more than 10-12 minutes, or encouraged to eat as quickly as possible, in the dining room during breakfast hours. There are many other places in the building to chat and/or review itineraries, and the dining room just isn't that big compared to the hundreds of guests on premises at any given time. This is an issue, despite the fact that breakfast is available for a generous 4 hours. But other than that (and if you don't mind a no-alcohol policy) this is a great place to stay! Just be sure to venture outside the Loop when you go sightseeing. If you want to. 4.9 stars.  ()
4   Great place! I stayed here because I attended a conference in Chicago. I shared a double room with a colleague, and we had a good time. The hostel was perfect -- very friendly staff, great location, clean rooms. There was some noise because of the nearby train (the loop), so you could consider to bring earplugs. No noise from other hostelers though. I'd definitely stay here again when visiting Chicago.  , Netherlands ()
1   One (big) problem -- BEDBUGS!! It is such a shame to give this hostel such a poor rating because it is top notch in so many ways -- good location, nice rooms (we stayed in a private room), free breakfast, free wifi -- I really would normally go out of my way to recommend it. But (and it's a big one!) bedbugs are really terribly hard to get past. Luckily we were only there for 2 nights but it just really ruins your experience. Added to that was the staff reaction -- even after admitting that what we had were bedbug bites, they were reluctant to apologize or offer any recompense for discomfort of their guest (we were too polite to ask/demand any!) they instead asked "have you been somewhere before?" ... um yes sure we have but THIS is the place we've got bites from!! Dreadful training of their staff to insinuate it's the fault of the guest. Guys, it's YOU not us!! Kinda soured the experience for us.  , Australia ()
4   Good everything is good except the internet is not really stable.  , taiwan ()
5   Convenient, safe, clean, and friendly. A wonderful place to stay and very convenient to downtown attractions. Though huge, it was a lot of fun meeting so many students from other countries. The facilities were very good: a recreation room, a computer room ($2 per 20 minutes), a large dining room, clean rooms with lockers available. I got the option with the bathroom in the suite and that was a great choice. I felt very safe the whole time I was there and plan to go back when I have more time to stay. The volunteers and staff were very helpful and gave out great advice.  ()
3   Good location and nice price BUT rude attitude also a little noisy Good location and nice price. However, the lady in the front desk was unfriendly during my check in. I feel like being laughed at because of my account. The interesting thing is the lady herself has an account. Also, it is easy to hear people talking and the noise in the street. I wondered about where negative voice go.  ()

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