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Where to Stay in Chicago in 2024 | Best Areas & Hotels

Where to Stay in Chicago in 2024 | Best Areas & Hotels

It’s safe to say that Chicago is one of the most legendary cities in the USA, providing the background for both Superman’s Metropolis and Batman’s Gotham.

It’s also one of the richest, most cultured, and most visited cities in the states and a constant magnet for tourists from all around the world. And trust us — there are some great places to stay. Let us be your guide!

The 5 Best Places to Stay in Chicago

Where to Stay in Chicago map in vector format featuring the best areas of town

Our selection mostly covers the central and northern areas of the city. The southern parts are not bad or unsafe — Hyde Park, for example, is beautiful, and it’s the seat of Chicago University — but they’re not usually considered as attractive as the northern parts.

Our favorite areas include:

  1. The Loop (Downtown): The absolute center of the city, famous for the skyscrapers, the Riverwalk, the Millennium Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago, is perfect for first-time visitors.
  2. River North: Located just to the north of the Loop and bordering Streeterville via the Magnificent Mile, it’s Chicago’s premier nightlife district.  
  3. Streeterville: Right next to River North, covering the larger chunk of the Magnificent Mile, it offers the best shopping options, an attractive coastline, and a bunch of theaters.
  4. Gold Coast: Further up north and also connected to the Magnificent Mile, it’s the most luxurious area in Chicago, with the best and most expensive hotels and restaurants.
  5. Lincoln Park: Even further up north from Downtown, it’s the most relaxed, budget-friendly, and family-friendly district in Chicago and the homeplace of the Zoo.

Where to Stay in Chicago: Best Areas & Hotels

Chicago is one of the largest and most developed cities in the USA, going hand in hand with the likes of New York and Los Angeles. The city, especially its central area, is stacked with hotels of all kinds and sizes, particularly offering some of the most famous hotel names in the world.

If you’re looking for luxury, you’ll find it everywhere, even in the budget and family-friendly Lincoln Park, five miles from the Loop.

But the highest concentration of upscale five-star hotels is located on the Magnificent Mile. Mid-range options also abound in every area.

There’s nothing particularly special to be said about any district. But, if you’re looking for something cheaper, search either in Lincoln Park or in the Loop. That’s where the budget options are mostly to be found.

1. Best Area for First-Time Visitors: The Loop (Downtown)

The famous Loop (downtown) pictured from under the bridge between skyscrapers as a featured area to stay in Chicago

CHICAGO – SEPTEMBER 30: Chicago street seen on September 30, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Shown with famous Loop bridge/Turtix/Shutterstock

Your trip between the skyscrapers in Chicago will definitely start in the Downtown, also known as the Loop. Here you’ll find the Chicago from the movies, the “windy city,” the tall skyscrapers, the sublime museums and theaters, and the huge parks.

Plainly speaking, the most signature landmarks of the city are located here. Strolling is your biggest friend here since the best way to get to know the center of Chicago is the pedestrian road.

Stroll down the Chicago Riverwalk, walk along the Chicago Skyline, look at the river and the immense skyscrapers, do some window shopping, grab a bite or a coffee at some nice restaurant or coffee place — that’s the right way of familiarizing yourself with the unforgettable aura of the city.

Don’t you dare forget to visit Millennium Park.

Aside from the iconic Cloud Gate (created by Anish Kapoor) and the Beaux-Arts-style Buckingham Fountain, it’s one of the largest and most beautiful green spaces in all of America.

It offers an interesting chance to see something that’s simultaneously a striking piece of nature and a work of art. Everybody knows that Chicago is a well-known and respected science, art, and culture center.

That’s why the number one attraction in the city is neither the skyscrapers nor the Millennium Park but The Art Institute of Chicago. It’s basically like visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Louvre in Paris, or the National Gallery in London.

Just remember that Chicago has a lot of other museums, galleries, and theaters you just have to visit. In terms of accommodation and food, the Loop definitely gets a ten.

There are numerous accommodations, from budget to unreasonably expensive, with a lot of mid-range options in between. That’s why we recommend this part of Chicago for first-time visitors. The same holds for restaurants too.

The Loop (Downtown) Budget Hotels

  • Travelodge by Wyndham Downtown Chicago is a two-star Downtown accommodation located very close to Millennium park. It offers free Wi-Fi and parking, facilities for disabled guests, and a 24-hour working desk. There’s breakfast too.  
  • La Quinta by Wyndham Chicago Downtown is a relatively cheap, pet-friendly, three-star hotel. Aside from the free Wi-Fi and parking, there’s also a fitness center, room services, a 24-hour desk, facilities for disabled people, and a nice breakfast every morning.

The Loop (Downtown) Mid-Range Hotels

  • Congress Plaza Hotel Chicago is a great three-star hotel, located just across Millennium Park, on the iconic Michigan Avenue. A historic place, it also has a restaurant on its premises and a bar, a fitness center, and professional room service.
  • Best Western Grant Park Hotel is a decent and not very expensive three-star hotel, part of the famous Best Western chain of hotels. Located across the Grand Park, it also offers free Wi-Fi and parking, an on-site restaurant, a 24-hour desk, and laundry facilities.

The Loop (Downtown) Luxury Hotels

  • JW Marriott Chicago is a very expensive and luxurious five-star hotel located in the Loop, part of the famous Marriott chain of hotels. It has an indoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, an on-site restaurant and a bar, luxuriously furnished rooms, and facilities for disabled people.
  • Four Seasons Chicago is one of the best, most expensive, and most luxurious hotels in Chicago. An upscale five-star hotel, it offers an indoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, and a restaurant and bar on the premises.

See All Hotels in Chicago

2. Best Area for Nightlife: River North

Floodlit Centennial Fountain pictured along the riverwalk in Chicago, one of the best areas to stay when visiting the city

Steve Heap/Shutterstock

As soon as you cross one of the numerous bridges that divide The Loop from the northern parts of Chicago, you’ll immediately reach two of the city’s most popular districts — River North and Streeterville.

They’re divided by the poshest place in Chicago, the so-called Magnificent Mile, where the most luxurious shops, restaurants, and hotels are located.

People usually chose River North as their base when visiting Chicago for three things: the numerous nightclubs, the large number of galleries, and the proximity to the Magnificent Mile.

We are going to cover the Mile more specifically in the next segment since it’s generally considered part of Streeterville. For now, we’ve rounded up the best nightclubs in River North but also the whole of Chicago.

Our favorites include:

All of them offer something different: some are more relaxed and offer plenty of room for dancing; others are more upscale; then, there are those about live music.

We can guarantee that whatever your choice, you’ll probably have one or more really unforgettable nights. For some mysterious reason, places with vibrant nightlife are usually packed with galleries, and River North is no exception to that rule.

Some of the best galleries and specialty shops — even excluding the Magnificent Mile — are located in this fun district. The accommodation options are a bit less versatile than in the Loop but are still varied enough.

Their lack of two-star hotels is covered by relatively cheap three-star hotels. Concerning the luxurious options, the situation is basically the same: the wider center of Chicago is overflowing with Hiltons, Hyatts, Marriotts, and Astorias.

River North Budget Hotels

  • Ohio House Motel is a very cheap but quite decent two-star motel that doesn’t offer much aside from the great location. It offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, and air-conditioning through the premises, furnished rooms with flat-screen TVs, and a tasty breakfast every morning.
  • Best Western Chicago Downtown-River North is a great three-star hotel, part of the famous and reliable Best Western chain of hotels. It offers an indoor pool and a fitness center on the premises, as well as a bar and a restaurant. The hotel is particularly suitable for couples.

River North Mid-Range Hotels

  • Moxy Chicago Downtown is a pet-friendly three-star hotel that has a fitness center, a bar, and a restaurant on its premises. Particularly suitable for couples, and boasting a great location — 700 m of the Magnificent Mile — it also has facilities for disabled people and a 24-hour desk.  
  • Aloft Chicago Downtown River North is another great three-star hotel, located around three blocks away from the Magnificent Mile. It also has an on-site restaurant and a bar, and a fitness center on the premises at your disposal. The hotel is pet-friendly, has room service, and laundry facilities.

River North Luxury Hotels

  • The Peninsula Chicago is a super luxurious five-star hotel that offers top-notch things in every way imaginable. It has an indoor pool, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises. There’s also a spa and wellness center and airport shuttle services. Finally, the breakfast in the hotel is superb.
  • Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago is a perfect choice if you enjoy — most of all — having a clear view from above the city. A super luxurious five-star hotel, it offers an indoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises — among other interesting things and facilities.

See All Hotels in Chicago

3. Best Area for Shopping: Streeterville

Aerial view of the Streeterville area, one of the best parts of Chicago in which to stay, pictured with the Centennial Wheel and the Navy Pier below

CHICAGO, IL – OCT 1: Navy Pier and skyline on October 1, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. It was built in 1916 as 3300 foot pier for tour and excursion boats and is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction/f11photo/Shutterstock

To the east of both River North and the majestic Magnificent Mile lies the neighborhood called Streeterville. The usual stereotype about this area is that it’s the prime location for shopping in Chicago, and in this case, the preconception is completely correct.

But this charming district has much more to offer, mainly thanks to its being located on the coast of Lake Michigan. The Magnificent Mile is a premier restaurant, hospitality, and shopping area in Chicago.

Part of the huge Michigan Avenue, it boasts the best hotels and restaurants in the city. If you are looking for upscale accommodation, this is where you’ll find it.

Also, it boasts nearly 500 shops, from high-end brands, such as Gucci and Louis-Vuitton, to some extremely cheap department stores. On the other side of Streeterville (east) lies Lake Michigan and the waterfront and the second most attractive tourist place in the district.

Navy Pier has been a magnet for tourists since 1995, offering a bunch of shops and restaurants with a fantastic scenic view, some interesting museums, the Lakefront Trail, and the 200-foot tall Centennial Wheel.

You can’t say that you’ve visited Chicago without spending some time around the Navy Pier. Streeterville, in general, is a great place for lovers of art, culture, and knowledge.

Aside from the Northwestern University buildings in the area, there’s something for theater-goers and museum visitors.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, for example, is a prestigious Tony award recipient; the Chicago Children’s Museum is one of the best children’s museums in the country; Museum of Contemporary Art is a perfect choice for lovers of both the modern and the postmodern.

Lastly, we don’t recommend Streeterville to budget travelers since there’s no hotel with less than three stars. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something quite expensive and luxurious, this area is the right choice for you.

Streeterville Budget Hotels

  • Fairfield Inn and Suites Chicago Downtown/ Magnificent Mile is a nice three-star hotel and the cheapest accommodation you’ll find in Streeterville. Located around 10 minutes from the coast of the lake, it also has free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, facilities for disabled guests, and breakfast.
  • Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile is another three-star hotel and the second cheapest option in the district. More in the class of the mid-range options, it also has an indoor swimming pool, pet-friendly premises, a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and private parking.

Streeterville Mid-Range Hotels

  • Aloft Chicago Mag Mile is a very nice three-star hotel with an indoor swimming pool, an on-site restaurant and a bar, and a very tasty breakfast every morning. It’s also completely pet-friendly and has facilities for disabled people, room service, and a 24-hour front desk.
  • Sonesta ES Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile is another three-star and pet-friendly hotel that’s located very close to the shore of the lake. It offers free Wi-Fi and private parking, facilities for disabled guests, a fitness center, and tasty breakfast.

Streeterville Luxury Hotels

  • Viceroy Chicago is a gorgeous and very luxurious five-star hotel located on the Magnificent Mile. It has a fabulous outdoor pool, a restaurant, a bar, and a fitness center. The rooms are luxurious, with flat-screen TVs and minibars, and the hotel has very fast room service.
  • Park Hyatt Chicago is definitely one of the best hotels in Chicago, offering anything and everything, from an indoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and a spa and wellness center on the premises to multilingual newspapers and designer bathrooms. It’s a perfect choice for affluent international travelers.

See All Hotels in Chicago

4. Most Luxurious Area: Gold Coast

Neat biking path in the Gold Coast, home to some of the coolest skyscrapers and neat beaches, pictured for a featured area on the best parts of Chicago to stay

Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock

Speaking of affluence, just to the north of Streeterville and River North lies one of the most luxurious neighborhoods in the whole of America called — quite conveniently — Gold Coast.

Its luxury is only compared with Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but it probably has even more history to it. Starting in the late 19th century, when a millionaire called Potter Palmer moved here and started to build what is today.

It’s really a combination of historical buildings, mansions, high-rise apartments, and row houses, the Gold Coast area is easily comparable to Nissantisi, the richest district in Istanbul, or to Salamanca in Madrid.

In comparison to the previous areas that we’ve covered in our guide, Gold Coast doesn’t offer as many activities, museums, or galleries.

Most of its historical significance lies in the Astor Street District, the main monument from the past, built in that crucial period about a hundred years ago.

It does have a number of 19th-century buildings constructed in various styles, like the Queen Anne, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Georgian Revival. If you’re partial to those architectural styles, three houses stand above the others:

  • James Charnley House (also known as Charnley-Persky House) is one of the first modern residential houses in America.
  • George Swift Isham Home was famously owned by Hugh Hefner and was, for a time, the dormitory of the School of the Art Institute.
  • Three Arts Club was a club for women learning music, painting, and drama; it had a fine Byzantine entrance.

That said, Gold Coast does have its variety. History buffs can enjoy the unusual International Museum of Surgical Science, which is quite popular among tourists.

Art aficionados can visit Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts located in another beautiful and old building too. The Gold Coast area of Chicago is by far the most expensive and most luxurious district in the city, as we said.

When it comes to accommodation options, that’ll mean that there are literally no budget options and practically no mid-range hotels — only very expensive and upscale five and four-star hotels. We recommend Gold Coast only to visitors who are planning to spend a lot of money.

Gold Coast Mid-Range Hotels

  • Claridge House is a four-star hotel with a great location and a mid-range option only in the relative sense of the term. The hotel boasts a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, a bar, and a restaurant on its premises.
  • Ambassador Chicago, part of JdV by Hyatt is another four-star hotel way out of the league of the regular mid-range option. It offers completely pet-friendly premises, a bar, a restaurant, and a fitness center. In addition, as you’d expect, there’s superb breakfast in the morning, luxuriously furnished family rooms, and professional room service.

Gold Coast Luxury Hotels

  • Waldorf Astoria Chicago is definitely one of the top five hotels in Chicago, part of the extremely upscale Waldorf Astoria chain of hotels. It has an indoor swimming pool, rooms furnished in a contemporary way with all the amenities, a spa and wellness center, and both an on-site bar and a restaurant.
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago is, again, one of the top five most luxurious and expensive hotels in Chicago, not surprisingly located in the Gold Coast area. Offering a striking view of the lake, it also has a spa and wellness center, an indoor pool, a bar, and a restaurant on the premises. The breakfast in the hotel is simply amazing.

See All Hotels in Chicago

5. Best Area for Families: Lincoln Park

Tall buildings in downtown Chicago pictured from Lincoln Park, one of the best areas to stay in Chicago

Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock

Last but not least is the huge area called Lincoln Park, located around five miles to the north of the Loop.

A more relaxed and down-to-earth district, we recommend Lincoln Park to budget travelers — because of its cheap accommodations — and families due to the number of parks and interesting family-friendly places.

The prime location of interest is the park of the same name, located near the shores of the lake. Almost everything worth visiting in Lincoln Park is located here.

The park itself is one of the most famous and popular in the whole of Chicago and definitely the largest in the city (stretching for around seven miles along the coast). It’s perfect for relaxed strolling, biking, and picnicking with your family or your date.

Nearby, you’ll spot North Avenue Beach too. But the park itself is just the beginning. Most people come here for the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is the fourth oldest in the country (founded in early 1868) and one of the last free-admission zoos in America.

Quite large, it has around 1100 animals and over 200 species to look at.

Further to the north are two other places: Lincoln Park Conservatory, which is also more than a century old and a favorite for flora lovers; then, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has more than 1000 butterflies, sea turtles, exotic birds, and other interesting animals.

And that’s only the story about Lincoln Park itself — the Lincoln Park district has much more to offer to the enthusiastic tourist.

There’s the versatile Chicago History Museum, which eloquently narrates the story of the city; the smaller but also beautiful Oz Park; and Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, one of the most attractive nature areas in the city.

Finally, in the spirit of Chicago, there are numerous theaters that will give joy to even the most demanding theater-goers. If you want to save some money and still have a nice time visiting Chicago, Lincoln Park is the right choice for you.

There are a bunch of three-star hotels that offer more than decent accommodation at a relatively low price. If you are looking for luxury, on the other hand, take a look down south at some of the other, centrally located districts.

Lincoln Park Budget Hotels

  • Chicago Getaway Hostel is a very cheap but quite nice three-star hotel that offers much more than your regular budget options. It offers private parking and free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, a perfect location in Lincoln Park, a terrace and BBQ facilities, and a warm breakfast every morning.
  • Hotel Versey Days Inn by Wyndham Chicago is another relatively cheap three-star hotel that offers more than you bargained for. Again, located very close the beautiful area around Lincoln Park, it offers free Wi-Fi, available parking, daily housekeeping and room service.

Lincoln Park Mid-Range Hotels

  • Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace Hotel is a three-star hotel located in a historical building, part of the famous Best Western chain of hotels. It offers a nice glass-enclosed hot tub, a fitness center, a terrace, a 24-hour desk, and a very tasty breakfast in the morning.
  • The Willows Hotel is another elegant and beautiful three-star hotel located on a fine tree-lined street. It offers free Wi-Fi and parking, and it has tea and coffee machines in every room. Other amenities include a fitness center, laundry service, room service, and a 24-hour desk.

Lincoln Park Luxury Hotels

  • The Hotel & Athletic Club at Midtown is a four-star hotel located in the western part of Lincoln Park. It has a lot to offer, and in comparison to the hotels in the central area, it’s significantly cheaper. It has two swimming pools, a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, and a bar on the premises.
  • Hotel Lincoln is another great four-star hotel that comes at a great price, located right across the beautiful Lincoln Park. It has completely pet-friendly premises, an on-site restaurant and a bar, private parking, free Wi-Fi, 24-hour desk, and very professional room service.

See All Hotels in Chicago

Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!

It was not an easy task to summarize Chicago in such a short format, but we managed to do it. Granted, we might’ve omitted a spot or two, as there’s much, much more to see and to visit. But this is the blueprint of the most famous landmarks in Chicago.

Now let’s do a quick recap:

🏆Best for First-Time VisitorsThe Loop (Downtown)
🍷 Best for NightlifeRiver North
🎁 Best Area for ShoppingStreeterville
🥂 Most Luxurious AreaGold Coast
👪 Best for FamiliesLincoln Par

So, with so much to see and do, and an abundance of great places to stay, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and see for yourself all that Chicago has to offer. Happy travels!