I’ve been to more than 20 youth hostels in my travels but Chicago Getaway Hostel already impressed me within an hour after I checked in. It’s the best hostel I’ve ever stayed so far. The moment I walked in, the organized and clean lounge, the friendly ambiance and the smiling staff already won me over. It was almost noon when I arrived but checked-in time was at 3 in the afternoon. Since my bed was already made and cleaned up, they let me in ahead of the checked-in time. Just in case, your bed isn’t made up yet and you want to maximize your daytime for sightseeing, they’ll be gracious to keep your backpack in the storage room and you can start your Chicago adventure without having to worry about your luggage.
As the #1 (Top 3 Accommodations in North America in 2013), Chicago Getaway Hostel will never fail to impress you. It’s a best value for your shoe-string budget while meeting fellow travellers and experiencing real Chicago through the eyes of the locals–without having to spend much.
The hostel has a nice interior–free from the usual, messy and ugly painted walls in many hostels I have stayed before. Their lounge is spacious and has a huge sofa that made me feel welcome in an open, roomy area where tired travellers feel relief as soon as they rest.
The dining area is a melting pot of backpackers in every continent during breakfast. A friendly tête-à-tête in many languages permeates the cordial atmosphere. In the evening, travellers clink their beer bottles over billiard, foosball and good conversations. As the night gets older and the alcohol-induced wanderers start talking more, the noise increases. Suddenly, solo travellers aren’t anymore alone. The room becomes a world in itself where everyone is introducing himself, shaking hands and sharing travel stories and tips with strangers they just met. While the hostel allows outside alcoholic drinks, you should be 21 years old and above to enjoy it.
The entertainment / media center is equipped with a huge TV, DVD player and comfy couches. Most of the time, it’s showing sports channel. But, feel free to change channel when nobody is really concentrating watching it.
They also have a reading room where you can pick guide books and maps and brochures about Chicago.
The performance area is, perhaps, the most unique quarter this hostel has. The grand piano is waiting for some random musician to hit the keys and the guitar is resting to be played. Small, round tables for two are arranged like you are in a cafe or in blues bar, a must-see place to experience that’s distinct to Chicago. If you don’t play any musical instruments, grab a board game and start playing with other backpackers.
The kitchen is awesome! They have an island for cooking stoves and tupperware-like bins to store your own food. They have 4 refrigerators enough for everyone. It’s clean and hostellers are encouraged to clean up and wash their own dishes after the cleaners are gone and done for the day. Unlike many hostels where they only offer bread and butter for breakfast, Getaway Hostel offers generously not just those but also cereals, milk, tea, coffee, bananas, fresh oat meal, bagel and peanut butter. You’ll never get out and start your day on an empty or half-empty stomach!
Cook your own food and buy some cheap wine nearby and enjoy dinner al fresco at their patio!
The activity board is filled with free things to do in Chicago and provides guests with a “local” experience that will set them on a different path than what usual tourists do. Listen to Chicago blues, join and get drunk on their pub crawls, save and get discounted tickets to some tourist attractions and excursions, and see some burlesque and comedy shows with very minimal fee for hostellers.And if ever you are there on a Sunday night, grab a free grub at dinner. While this hostel is gay-friendly, they should put up some LGBT-related events in the bulletin board for their gay patrons. If you are a gay traveler and you want some information about Boystown, try asking the staff. Don’t be shy. Check their calendar of daily events.
Though the bed creates a squeaky kind of sound, the room was clean. Bathrooms are maintained and cleaned throughout the day. They’ve got a locker enough to keep your medium-sized backpack. Sheets and towels are spotless clean. If you forgot to buy a padlock for your locker, you don’t need to worry and go to the nearest hardware or shop–you can buy it from them. Doors and rooms are secured with electronic locks. Your key card records your entries and exits to your room and the hostel. In some rooms, wifi isn’t possible. The hostel has desktop computers and you can even print for free!
Members of the staff are the gems of this hostel. Friendly, accommodating and willing to lend a hand and ear, they’ll make sure your stay is as memorable as your trip in Chicago. If you are confused or can’t find something in their Touch Screen Information Kiosk, ask them. Even the cleaners and janitors smile at you when you meet them at the hallways.
The location is awesome. It’s 10 minutes or less walk from the nearest subway, Fullerton stop, on the Red and Brown Lines. It’s in a quite neigborhood but sandwiched by three major streets (Lincoln Street, N Clark St and Halstead–all walking steps away from the hostel!) lined up with pubs, theaters, various restaurants, museums, grocery stores, markets, parks and some historical buildings. Therefore, you are staying in the BEST neighborhood in the city! Not far away is the Lincoln Zoo where you can get in for free! And in summer, if you want to chill and beat the heat wave, there’s a beach nearby! In the morning, you can run part of the 18-mile running / walking path along Michigan Lake! Few bus stops away (one train stop north of Fullerton) is the Boystown (Belmont stop) where everything LGBT is happening.
I’d highly recommend this hostel to every wanderer who just doesn’t need a place to stay temporarily in Chicago but also to experience extreme Chicago hospitality.
Click this for more THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO.