Chicago Hostel Review: Lollapalooza Weekend
Disclaimer: I am a Hostel World affiliate, so booking through my link will help me earn!
All opinions below are my own!
This past July, my friends and I went back to one of my favorite cities in the world. Chicago.
In May it was announced that Jhope (a member of our favorite band) and TXT (another favorite band of mine) would be performing at Lollapalooza. Lollapalooza is a massive music festival held in Grant Park every year. Once we heard the lineup news, we knew we had to go, so we bought the tickets.
But when we started looking into hotels, they were all way too expensive, the cheapest within the area we wanted to stay in was $400 a night. And even then, they were far enough that we would have to uber to and from the festival which would add another cost on top of just the hotel itself.
Because of this, I began to look into hostels in the city and got lucky enough to find one within walking distance of the festival and it was only around $70 a night per person.
What is a hostel?
'A hostel is a form of low-cost, short-term shared sociable lodging where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed in a dormitory, with shared use of a lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex and have private or shared bathrooms.'
The name of the hostel we ended up staying in is called the 'HI Chicago, The J.Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel'
Their listing has tons of info and photos, and it is all accurate and the photos are exactly what it looks like as well!
The Hi Chicago Hostel was honestly in the perfect spot for us.
It was only a block and a half from the main Lollapalooza entrance at Grant Park, so we were able to come and go as we wished and didn't have to worry about Ubering most of the time! Walkability is a MAJOR plus in my opinion when staying anywhere, so that gets a major bonus point!
There were tons of restaurants within walking distance as well, including a sandwich shop right next to the lobby (which I will write about later on) two different Dunkins, insomnia cookies, a pizza place, poke bowls and a wing stop. There were probably fifty food options within a half a mile walk from this hostel.
Read my food reviews of the restaurants we went to while there! (coming soon)
If you have heard of the goth target, that was also about a .6-mile walk away as well!
The goth target is a target that was built inside a registered Chicago landmark building, so when they began to build the store inside, they could not remove the original infrastructure.
Read more about the history of the goth target here!
The hostel is also right next door to the Chicago public library, which is MASSIVE and includes an atrium on the top floor where you can sit and work, or go to take pictures!
This hostel had several security measures put in place, which I loved so much and gave us so much peace of mind.
Upon check-in, we were all given key cards, during daytime hours the lobby was open and anyone could come inside. But at night time all of the doors to the building would lock, so we could still come and go as we pleased but we needed the keycards to get in and out of the building.
The key cards were also required to get into the elevator room on the ground floors, stairwells, rooms, and common areas, and they also required a key card scan to use the elevator. so there was always a step to get somewhere.
Ironically, I ended up misplacing my key card one day, so I went down to sit in the common area one night after the festival and ended up having to call my friend to come and get me because I wasn't able to get back up to the room without my card which was something I forgot about until that moment.
We stayed in an 8-bed female-only dorm, throughout our stay several people came and went, but shockingly enough I think there was only one night when all 8 beds were full and when the morning came two people had already left.
Each bed had its own outlets, lamp, and locker to store belongings in. the lockers were spacious. I was able to fit my carry-on suitcase inside, my Kanken backpack, and there was still more space inside of it!
When we arrived, there was a plastic container with sheets, one pillow case, and two towels inside of it. the fitted sheets were a struggle to get on, but once we did they stayed on perfectly and never came off while I was sleeping. They were also clean, there was only one questionable stain on the top sheet, but it just looked like mascara and it was small so I didn't really question it.
There was not a blanket provided, but there was a top sheet, which was enough for me since by the time we would get back to the room at night we were all so tired sleep came quickly. the beds were also surprisingly comfortable.
Each room had a toilet, two sinks, and a shower room. Housekeeping came in every day, so things were always kept clean and tidy!
These were some of my favorite places to be.
One thing about hostels is they are designed for a more social experience and especially when almost everyone there has traveled for one thing like Lolla, it makes it a very fun and exciting place to meet new people.
Whether it is the lobby, elevator, kitchen, or sitting area, there was always someone there that was there to see the same artists I was which made it very uplifting.
But, I myself as funny as it may sound am a pretty big introvert who tends to travel with some very big extroverts. So at the end of every day, my social battery was pretty wiped out.
The second floor was the floor that held most of the common areas like meeting rooms, kitchens, dining areas, etc. And while there were normally always people there, at around 11 pm when my group and I would be back and showered, I typically would go to this floor and find a spot in the back corner to sit and watch a show on my phone while I ate to unwind alone for a little while.
The back area near the kitchen was typically quieter than the front areas, and so at 11 when most people would be in bed, there would typically only be one or two other people there. This same area was full of massive windows, so while I sat I would watch the trains go by which added to the calming ambiance.
In the common areas, there were couches and chairs of course, as well as pool and ping-pong tables, and TV's where you could watch cable TV. They also have private rooms you can reserve to do work in, or have a place to be alone with friends!
While our room had a shower room in it, there were a few times were many of us would need to shower at one time. Luckily, our floor had an additional shower room for women (and a separate one for men) that we were able to use. It had two bathroom stalls with toilets and two extra showers.
Of course, all of the stalls were able to be locked, and the shower stalls also had a shelf and hooks for you to use while in them as well!
The communal shower room was pretty clean for it being a bathroom shared by an entire floor, there was one night when I showered that the shower stall I was in had grass in it, but it was a festival weekend, so if the grass was the worst thing I found in the bathrooms I am not going to complain about it.
I also found out that at night time when many people were showering at once, the communal showers ran out of hot water quickly. It was never freezing cold, but it was definitely chilly, but after a hot day of being in the sun and two days of coming back with a slight sunburn I also was not overly mad at the idea of having to have a cold shower instead of a hot one!
Another thing that I thought was kind of funny, so I am five foot one inch tall, and the shower in our room was a normal size shower. But the shower head in the communal showers was so high up. Probably two or three feet above my head, so most of the water would hit the wall because I was genuinely not tall enough to be able to stand directly under it.
Obviously, I could still use it, but when I had to wash out my hair it was tricky because I was only able to get about half of the water stream to hit my head because the rest was hitting the wall.
Fridge and Kitchen Layout
The way they had the building laid out honestly was very smart. I'm sure it can get super tricky to keep track of everyone checking in and out and they did a good job of making everything as easy to navigate as possible.
Our floor had a mini kitchen area, and while stoves were all located on the second floor, the floor that we stayed on had a kitchenette area with a fridge and sink. If you wanted to put something in the fridge they had stickers and you wrote your name and what day you were leaving so that they knew it the food needed to be thrown away or not.
If you had something that you wanted to leave for others to use, they had stickers labeled public use that you could put on things so people would know it was up for grabs.
Cafe on the ground floor
When you walk in the doors to get into the hostel, there was like a little holding room. During the day the doors are unlocked, but there are two sets of doors you have to use the keycard on to get into the building. so to the left is the hostel, and to the right was a little Cuban sandwich shop.
On the sunday afternoon of Lollapalooza, we woke up early to get Jhope merch before it sold out and then came back to the hostel so we could put it away and eat food from outside the festival because the food options they had inside were pricey like most event food is.
For my lunch that day, I decided to go to the restaurant called Cafecito because it was so close and convenient. They have coffee, sides, drinks, sandwiches, and all of the things that you think would go along with that, I decided to get something simple, so I got a Cubano. Which ended up being around $17 including tip.
It took a few minutes to come out, and once it did I went up to floor two (which is the communal floor mentioned above) and sat in front of the big windows while I had my lunch.
The sandwich was pretty good. One thing about me is when I am doing a lot of psychically draining things, it makes my appetite go down a ton. So being at a festival in the heat, standing and walking around like I was made it hard to eat much of anything for several days. which is probably why I am not raving about the food I got.
I will say, it was a little bit dry, which made it hard to eat when I already knew I wasn't hungry. but still, I ate most of it because I knew my body needed it. And I'm glad I did because I was starting to get cranky from the lack of food. So sometimes you just have to push through haha.
All of the staff that I interacted with during my time there were very nice and extremely helpful. With how busy that weekend was for them, they stayed in high spirits the whole time and were of course willing to answer any questions we had during our stay.
The thing I had to ask them about the most was scissors. Since we flew there I didn't bring any because of TSA and stuff, so after going to the festival each day I was ready to get my wristband off, and I had to ask for scissors to cut them off each night.
When it was time for us to check out, we did store our bags there. Our flight was leaving at 10, and checkout was at 11. So we did not want to have to drag our bags around the city for that long.
They offered storage for suitcases for $3 a bag, we were given a tag with a number to write out names on, it also came printed with a number. when it was time for us to come back and pick them up, we showed them the end of the tag with our number on it, and they verified that the number matched the one on our bag and then we were good to go!
For smaller items, like book bags or purses they had lockers that you could use for free. We used the same lock we brought for the lockers upstairs, and then we could grab it whenever we wanted!
Overall, I highly recommend checking this place out! It is such good quality for the price, and if/ when I go back to Chicago I will definitely consider this hostel at the top of my list for places to stay again!
If this is something you want to look more into, check out their Hostel World page!