I need a hotel in Chicago
October 13, 2010 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I need advice and/or a recommendation for a hotel in Chicago.

I am considering a trip to Chicago later this month, and need advice on where to stay. I'll be traveling with one child, age 7, and possibly one or more other adults. I'm really interested in being able to get to the Field Museum, the aquarium, and the planetarium as easily as possible without a car. Should I be looking for hotels close to those attractions, or elsewhere? If you've got a specific hotel recommendation, I'd love to hear it -- and would welcome suggestions for other activities or places to eat. Thanks!
posted by Janta to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What is your budget?

There are plenty of suitable hotels in the general downtown area and getting to those attractions is a breeze on public transportation. There are some hotels around the museum campus which would make it even easier, but you needn't stay that close to make it easier to get to.

I might recommend Hotwire.com to get a deal. For the weekend of the 23rd it looks like there are some 4-4.5 star hotels for around a $150/night.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:41 PM on October 13, 2010

I would recommend staying in the River North area versus down in the Loop near the attractions you mention. There's the Red Line subway, buses and trolleys you can take very safely and quickly (the hotel can tell you how), and the River North area is packed with hotels, restaurants, shopping and lots and lots (and lots) of other tourists. You could also easily take a cab, but that's more money of course.

The museums you mention are great, but there's more to do right outside your door if you stay in River North. The Loop and Grant Park near the museum campus is cool to see, but it's more of a business district, and especially if staying with a kid, I'd stay further north.

Keep in mind that River North is tourist Mecca in Chicago, so the restaurants are hit or miss. You'll have to be more specific on what kinds of food and price range you're talking about... there's a huge amount and variety of restaurants here.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:43 PM on October 13, 2010

You can get to the Museum Campus very easily by transit from almost anywhere in the city, so you shouldn't focus too much on proximity. You'll probably be happiest staying the Loop since it's the center of the city and everything branches out from there. (People I know have gotten some really fantastic deals on downtown hotels through the Priceline name-your-price whatsit; I've never used it myself, but that's where I'd look first.)

As for things to do, improv is a big win. Most of the jokes will probably go over the seven year old's head, but shouldn't be too inappropriate if you go to one of the earlier shows (especially on a weekday). Call them first if you're concerned about content. You might also be interested in the Lincoln Park Zoo, which has free admission.
posted by phunniemee at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2010

Response by poster: I should have mentioned price range. Ideally, no more than $125/night, I guess, and preferably less.

(I knew I'd forgotten some important piece of information.)
posted by Janta at 2:59 PM on October 13, 2010

Best answer: Did the same trip 2 adults 2 kids, 1 room at the Essex Inn. Rooms on the smaller side, location was great and price was very nice. Pool was great.

800 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605-2115
(312) 939-2800
posted by Good43 at 2:59 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stayed at the Best Western River North Hotel a couple of years ago. The main draw being the free parking (otherwise you're looking at $30 or so a night for most places).

They've got an indoor pool. I'm not too particular about my room, but things were clean and staff was helpful enough, so I'd stay there again.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:08 PM on October 13, 2010

Hotel Blake (not to be confused with the far more spendy Drake Hotel) is a cozy boutique in the Printer's Row neighborhood of the South Loop that I find surprisingly stylish and tasteful for the economy rates I've often found (i.e. special packages including parking, low weekday night specials) on their website. Hotel Blake's South Loop location (very close to our Harold Washington Library) is off the beaten tourist drag, but very convenient (walking, bus, short cab ride) to the three attractions you want to see, all of which are a pleasant (assuming good weather) walk due East of this hotel. ...The South loop area used to be a ghost town after dark, but expansion in the past several years by Columbia College and other Loop schools has led to a lot more shops and restaurants that stay open late and of course more foot traffic that makes the area feel safer and more inviting than it did in previous decades.
posted by applemeat at 4:16 PM on October 13, 2010

Ohio House is a wonderfully incongruous motel in the middle of the North Loop (right next to the Rock 'n' Roll McDonalds). It's a very short L ride to the museums and you probably can't beat $100-110 a night. I've never stayed there, but they have an awesome coffee shop, and best of all you can make a paper model of it as a souvenir.
posted by theodolite at 4:28 PM on October 13, 2010

Best answer: Staying at the Essex was the best deal I could find for kid-friendly and good location. The pool was a big selling point.
posted by RedEmma at 4:30 PM on October 13, 2010

We negotiated an amazing rate at the Palmer House for $118/night the weekend of November 5th-7th for the WFTDA Women's Roller Derby Championships. It's a spectacular hotel right downtown two blocks off of the Magnificent Mile and the ice rink at Millennium Park. Not sure if the trolley will be running, but I'm sure the hotel can help you out there. Plus, you can see some of the best roller derby in the country!
posted by eamondaly at 5:58 PM on October 13, 2010

jeff-o-matic is right on. As is the "hotel with free parking" advice, if you are driving in. Loop parking is $32 a day now. And by "day", I mean anything past 2 hours or so.

South loop might be good, as you would be the same subway ride, or a 1-2 mile walk, from the river North stuff. (800 street numbers is a mile. 800 S and 800 N are two miles apart.)

If you are flying, consider something near the airports (possibly cheaper?) and take the train into the city. I think it's 30-45 minutes.
posted by gjc at 6:05 PM on October 13, 2010

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