With its incredible architecture, jazzy nightlife, and even a supply of golden beaches, Chicago ranks highly as one of the top bucket list destinations in the US.
But before you can start exploring the attractions, the first question to tackle is where is the best area to stay in Chicago? You need to plan with care so that you are within close proximity to the main tourist sites and the best places to grab one of those iconic deep-dish pizzas.
Chicago isn’t exactly the cheapest destination so you also need to consider your budget requirements and in such a huge city there are lots of options to trawl through.
This is where my guide to the best areas to stay in Chicago is going to save you so much time and stress!
I have curated the following post to help you figure out where the best place to book your accommodation is. I’ve even suggested some specific hotels to make the process as easy as possible. Let’s get into it!
*Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*
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Overview of Where to Stay in Chicago
Before we tackle the best parts of Chicago to stay in, let’s run over the layout and landscape of the city.
Located in the state of Illinois on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan – one of the five Great Lakes of North America – Chicago sits behind New York and Los Angeles as the third-largest city in the US.
Covering 235 square miles (607 square kilometers), the city comprises 77 community areas that are often grouped into 9 districts within which you will find additional neighborhoods. The areas that I have selected for this guide sit within the more central districts.
As a beacon for finance, culture, industry, education, technology, and tourism, Chicago has received a whole stream of accolades: for beauty, the high standard of living, and as one of the overall best large cities in the country.
Known for its remarkable urban skyline, the city is equally blessed with outdoor spaces including over 20 public beaches and almost 600 public parks, each brimming with statues, fountains, and manicured gardens.
The best areas to stay in Chicago place you within easy access to the top landmarks and attractions.
Getting around Chicago is a breeze thanks to a fantastic network of subway trains, commuter trains, and public buses. In the more central areas, then you can walk most places.
If you are visiting the city as part of a road trip then you will need to book a hotel with parking or stay further out to avoid the hefty parking fees.
Before you tackle my full guide, here is an overview of the best areas to stay in Chicago with hotel recommendations for each neighborhood.
|AREA||BEST FOR||RECOMENDED HOTEL||MORE HOTELS|
|Chicago Loop (Downtown Chicago)||First-time visitors, Sightseeing||Chicago Athletic Association||More hotels in Chicago Downtown
|Streeterville||Photographers & content creators, Luxury accommodation, Entertainment||The Ritz-Carlton Chicago||More hotels in Streeterville
|West Loop||Food, Upscale nightlife, Luxury stays||The Hoxton Chicago||More hotels in West Loop
|River North||Nightlife, Shopping, Art galleries||Moxy Chicago Downtown||More hotels in River North
|South Loop||Family-friendly, Museum||Le Meridien Essex Chicago||More hotels in South Loop
|Gold Coast||Couples, Luxury stays, Beaches||Claridge House||More hotels in Gold Coast
|Wicker Park||Local vibes, Offbeat||The Robey||More hotels in Wicker Park|
|Hyde Park||Family-friendly, Nature lovers, Student vibes||Sophy Hyde Park||More hotels in Hyde Park|
Best Areas to Stay in Chicago
That’s a quick overview of the best parts of Chicago to stay but now it’s time to go through each neighborhood with a fine-tooth comb.
I have extensively researched and selected the best neighborhoods categorized by things to do, budget, family-friendly places to stay, food and nightlife potential, and more to ensure you can make an informed decision about where to stay in Chicago.
Scroll down to find out which is the best neighborhood to stay in Chicago for your next trip.
1. Chicago Loop – Best area to stay in Chicago for first-time visitors
Chicago Loop is the most central part of the city, also known as the downtown area. This is where you will find the vast majority of the iconic skyscrapers, the lush Millennium Park which houses the Buckingham Fountain, museums, the Theater District, and the Chicago Riverwalk.
If this is your first time visiting the Windy City then you might find that The Loop is the best location to stay in Chicago. Also, if you want to stay at one of the most amazing hotels in Chicago with the best views, this is one of the best places to do it!
As the central hub for both tourism and commerce, The Loop is blessed with excellent amenities, restaurants, and transport connections. That means you can easily navigate your way around the major tourist landmarks on foot or using public transport.
If it is your first time then you probably won’t even stray too far from the central area. Alongside Streeterville, the Chicago Loop is one of the best areas to stay in Chicago for photographers eager to capture the iconic skyline.
Pros and cons of staying in Chicago Loop
- Puts you in the heart of the city close to all the major tourist spots.
- Excellent public transport when needed but the immediate vicinity is walkable for the most part.
- Limited choice in terms of independent guest houses: most of the hotels are major international chains.
- As the tourist center of the city, you will find that restaurants and hotels are more expensive.
Best places to stay in Chicago Loop
LUXURY – Chicago Athletic Association
Chicago Athletic Association, part of Hyatt boasts a grand ballroom with 19th-century stained glass windows and a modern fitness center. A rooftop bar overlooking Millennium Park, unique dining options, and a social games room awaits at the Chicago Athletic Association, part of Hyatt. This hotel, situated in a landmark building in downtown Chicago, promotes a high-spirited, club atmosphere.
MID-RANGE – The Blackstone
Situated in a historic French Beaux-Arts building, this 4-star Chicago Loop hotel features a tapas restaurant and stylish rooms with 50-inch LCD TVs. Grant Park is across the street and Millennium Park is only a 10-minute walk from the property. Selected rooms offer views of the lake. Mercat a la Planxa, the on-site tapas restaurant features Catalan and Mediterranean dishes.
BUDGET – Central Loop Hotel
All guest rooms at Central Loop Hotel have custom-designed furnishings and comfortable beds with down duvets and plush pillow-top mattresses. They also include work desks with ergonomic chairs. Complimentary exercise equipment and air purifiers are available for room delivery upon request.
2. Streeterville – Best area to stay in Chicago for photographers and content creators
Streeterville is a high-energy and happening neighborhood situated to the east of the Magnificent Mile with access to the lakeside of Lake Michigan.
This is the best location to stay in Chicago for proximity to the entertainment and leisure facilities of Navy Pier, including the Centennial Wheel, Ohio Street Beach, and Chicago Children’s Museum besides several theaters, restaurants, and walking routes.
It’s also well placed for getting around the most Instagrammable places in Chicago, making it my top recommendation for photographers, bloggers, and content creators.
Accommodation in Streeterville is similar to The Loop but there are more luxury hotels which make this one of the best areas to stay in Chicago for a luxurious vacation.
It’s also a good shout for families with children due to the family-friendly attractions and green spaces being within walking distance although you may have to hunt around for a deal.
Pros and cons of staying in Streeterville
- Solid selection of stylish hotels, some of which offer pools and spas.
- Excellent setting for getting around the main tourist attractions, amenities, and Instagram spots making this one of the best locations to stay in Chicago for bloggers and first-time visitors.
- Hotels are fewer and far between so you will need to book ahead to score a deal or hunt for a last-minute bargain to save some cash.
- The close proximity to The Loop and Route 41 which passes the east means that traffic congestion and noise is more noticeable in Streeterville.
Best places to stay in Streeterville
LUXURY – Four Seasons Chicago
Just steps away from the luxury shopping, dining, and entertainment on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, this downtown Chicago hotel features skyline city views, an on-site restaurant, and a lavish spa. Featuring vintage French décor and marble bathrooms with Malin + Goetz amenities, every room at Four Seasons Chicago offers panoramic views of the Chicago skyline or Lake Michigan.
MID-RANGE – The Ritz-Carlton Chicago
Located atop the famous Water Tower Place in Chicago’s Gold Coast district, this hotel offers artfully decorated guest rooms that feature city or lake views from large picture windows. The luxury shops and restaurants of the Magnificent Mile are just steps from this hotel.
BUDGET – Aloft Chicago Mag Mile
Aloft Chicago Mag Mile has a restaurant, fitness center, a bar, and shared lounge in Chicago. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Private parking is available on site.
3. West Loop – Best area to stay in Chicago for food
Situated to the west of The Loop on the site of a former industrial and meatpacking district, the West Loop area is now a hotspot for artistic cafes, high-end restaurants, and classy bars, making this one of the best parts of Chicago to stay for foodies.
Look no further than Randolph Street (aka Restaurant Row) to start your foodie discovery, which is lined with a variety of cuisine from all over the world.
Head to the southwest block to sample the delights of Greektown where you can find authentic Greek tavernas and bakeries or make a dinner reservation in Little Italy if you’ve got a craving for wholesome pasta.
What with the boom in the food scene, West Loop has developed into a trendy spot beloved by local residents and tourists.
It is the setting of Chicago’s Soho House and it’s even attracted the attention of major brands that now have headquarters in the area, such as Google and McDonald’s.
Pros and cons of staying in West Loop
- Excellent variety of restaurants, bars, pubs, and food markets.
- Convenient public transport including easy access to Chicago Union Station in case you are planning day trips by train.
- Prices are significantly higher across the board, for accommodation, dining, and nightlife.
- Subway coverage is limited in the center of the West Loop district.
Best places to stay in West Loop
LUXURY – Nobu Hotel Chicago
Situated in Chicago, 1.8 miles from Oak Street Beach, Nobu Hotel Chicago features accommodation with a restaurant, private parking, a fitness center, and a bar. The property is around 1.2 miles from DePaul University, 1.3 miles from United Center, and 1.4 miles from Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The hotel has an indoor pool, a 24-hour front desk, and free WiFi throughout the property.
MID-RANGE – The Hoxton Chicago
Situated in the heart of Chicago, The Hoxton Chicago welcomes its guests with 3 bars and restaurants, a rooftop pool, room service, a coffee shop, a yoga studio, and a coworking space. Each room is air-conditioned and features a satellite flat-screen TV, well-appointed interiors, private bathrooms with rain showers.
BUDGET – Hotel Chicago West Loop
Hotel Chicago West Loop is located in the middle of the UIC Medical District, only 1,950 feet from the United Center. Complimentary WiFi and beds with memory foam mattresses are featured at the Hotel Chicago West Loop.
4. River North – Best area to stay in Chicago for nightlife
River North is located to the immediate west of Streeterville and north of The Loop, just off the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue).
The area is known for its vibrant nightlife with options to satisfy happy hour goers and those seeking a full night out as well as its impressive supply of art galleries, clustered in the northwest corner of the neighborhood.
You’ll also find a decent choice of restaurants and places to shop if you’re planning on engaging with some retail therapy while in the city.
If you’re looking for some recommendations to kickstart your stay in the best part of Chicago to stay in for nightlife, check out Celeste for a swanky meal, Howl at the Moon for late nights and live music, or Gilt Bar for sophisticated cocktails in an elegant setting with a literary theme.
Pros and cons of staying in River North
- Excellent public transport connections.
- Wonderful nightlife opportunities and a huge array of art galleries.
- If your hotel is close to the bars and pubs and you fancy an early night, you might have to contend with loud noises from the streets of one of the best areas to stay in Chicago for nightlife.
- Limited green spaces.
Best places to stay in River North
LUXURY – The Langham Chicago
Just 2 blocks away from the famed shopping, dining, and entertainment on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, this luxury hotel towers above the city in a skyscraper designed by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe, offering upscale amenities and stylish comfort in the heart of downtown Chicago.
MID-RANGE – The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Overlooking iconic Lake Michigan, The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago is located in the heart of downtown and offers unparalleled amenities and services, including 2 on-site restaurants with a rooftop terrace, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a fully-equipped 24-hour business center.
BUDGET – Moxy Chicago Downtown
Situated within 2,300 feet of the Magnificent Mile, Moxy Chicago Downtown in Chicago has a number of amenities including a fitness center and a bar. The units in the hotel are fitted with a flat-screen Smart TV with streaming capabilities. Moxy Chicago Downtown offers certain units with city views, and the rooms include a private bathroom.
5. South Loop – Best area to stay in Chicago for budget-friendly
You have probably worked out for yourself that the South Loop sits just south of The Loop. This is a huge district that is further broken down into smaller neighborhoods, but the best section to choose as your base runs parallel to the Museum Campus.
Within this area, you’ll find the aquarium, planetarium, and Field Museum along with huge concert venues, beaches, and green spaces. If you were wondering where is the best area to stay in Chicago for family-friendly accommodation and attractions, this is it!
The other benefit of choosing the South Loop is that it’s one of the best areas to stay in Chicago on a budget. Hotels, restaurants, and amenities are all noticeably lower and you will find yourself less tempted to spend on nightlife as bars are limited in this area.
Pros and cons of staying in South Loop
- Convenient for exploring the family-friendly Museum Campus.
- Accommodation is a fraction more affordable than the other districts around The Loop.
- Limited dining and nightlife opportunities in the immediate area.
- Transiting to The Loop and Magnificent Mile neighborhoods from the South Loop is time consuming.
Best places to stay in South Loop
LUXURY – Kasa Chicago South Loop
Kasa Chicago South Loop Apartments features city views, free WiFi, and free private parking, located in Chicago, 1.8 miles from Ohio Street Beach. Each unit is equipped with a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, a seating area, a flat-screen TV, a washing machine, a private bathroom with a bath or shower, and a hairdryer.
MID-RANGE – Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown South Loop
Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown South Loop has a restaurant, fitness center, a bar, and a shared lounge in Chicago. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Private parking is available on site.
BUDGET – Le Meridien Essex Chicago
Hotel Essex includes a terrace with city views and free high-speed WiFi access. Ideally located within steps of the best Chicago experiences, the Essex is 1.4 miles away from the world-famous Chicago Museum Campus.
6. Gold Coast – Best area to stay in Chicago for couples
The Gold Coast neighborhood is located northeast of the Near North Side and runs alongside the banks of Lake Michigan.
If you want to be further afield from the hubbub of downtown and have nature destinations on your doorstep, then the Gold Coast might be the best part of Chicago to stay for you.
Choosing a hotel here puts you within walking distance of the sprawling Lincoln Park, North Avenue Beach, and Oak Street Beach, which are all a must-visit on every Chicago itinerary.
Burgeoning over recent years as one of the more upscale parts of the city, you will also find a generous supply of high-end restaurants and nightlife destinations.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Chicago for a romantic getaway, honeymoon, or luxury stay, then the Gold Coast offers an enticing mix of plush hotels and boutique apartment rentals.
As it is set a little further out, it’s also one of the quieter regions of the city and you can pop down to the beaches for dreamy sunset views across the lake.
Pros and cons of staying in Gold Coast
- Quick access to North Avenue Beach which is a hub for watersports, running, and other outdoor activities.
- Wonderful boutiques alongside elegant dining and nightlife options within a community environment.
- Hotels and restaurants are more expensive and prices soar during summer to catch the beachgoers.
- Additional travel is required if you want to explore The Loop.
Best places to stay in Gold Coast
LUXURY – Viceroy Chicago
Just steps away from the famed shopping, dining, and entertainment on the Magnificent Mile, this historic hotel is located in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood and features a rooftop bar and lounge with panoramic city views, on-site dining, and a seasonal rooftop pool.
MID-RANGE – Claridge House
Just a short walk away from Oak Street Beach, Magnificent Mile, John Hancock, Water Tower Place, Lakeshore lakefront, luxury shopping, and dining on Michigan Avenue. This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood and offers on-site dining and chic guest rooms with modern amenities.
BUDGET – The Whitehall Hotel
A 4-minute walk away from the famous shopping, dining, and entertainment on the Magnificent Mile, this boutique hotel offers luxury and historic culture with upscale on-site dining and spacious guest rooms with free WiFi. Every modern guest room at The Whitehall Hotel provides luxury premium bedding, including Egyptian cotton linens, a white silk duvet cover, and goose feather down comforter.
7. Wicker Park – Best area to stay in Chicago for local atmosphere
Situated around 4.5 miles (7.2 km) northwest of The Loop, Wicker Park is somewhat further out and thus has more of a local vibe which makes Wicker Park one of the best parts of Chicago to stay in if you want to get a taste of living in the city as a resident.
Though largely residential, the streets of Wicker Park pull together the very best of city-dwelling: you’ve got trendy boutiques and stores, laid-back cafes, great restaurants, and tonnes of grocery shops if you want to book a place with a kitchen.
North Milwaukee Avenue slices through the heart of the neighborhood and provides the lifeforce of the area.
If this is not your first time visiting the city then Wicker Park might be the best neighborhood to stay in Chicago to kick back and soak up local life rather than hitting up the downtown tourist spots.
Pros and cons of staying in Wicker Park
- A magnet for young professionals working in the city, Wicker Park has a youthful, energetic vibe.
- It’s the perfect option if you want to kick back and enjoy friendly eateries and mingling with locals.
- You will need to factor in additional travel time and expenditure to visit the downtown attractions.
- If you’re coming to the city to sightsee then you might feel underwhelmed as Wicker Park is a different atmosphere from downtown Chicago.
Best places to stay in Wicker Park
LUXURY – The Robey
Situated in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, this historic hotel is located 3 miles away from the shopping, dining, and entertainment on the Magnificent Mile. Café Robey offers French-American fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The rooftop lounge, Up & Up, is located on the 13th floor of the hotel and offers city views, lounge seating, and an array of cocktails and spirits.
MID-RANGE – Hyatt Place Chicago Wicker Park
Hyatt Place Chicago Wicker Park features a restaurant, fitness center, a bar, and a shared lounge in Chicago. Featuring a terrace, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The accommodation provides evening entertainment and a 24-hour front desk.
BUDGET – Ruby Room Inn
Boasting a garden, Ruby Room Inn is situated in Chicago in the Illinois region, 2.2 miles from United Center and 2.6 miles from Water Tower Chicago. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a concierge service, along with free WiFi throughout the property.
8. Hyde Park – Best area to stay in Chicago for nature and green space
Situated on the shore of Lake Michigan around 7 miles (11 km) south of the downtown area, leafy Hyde Park is the setting of the University of Chicago and the huge Jackson and Washington parks.
Within these green spaces, you have a plethora of activities including the DuSable Museum of African American History and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Hyde Park is one of the best areas to stay in Chicago if you want to stay beyond The Loop and surrounding hubs and see the wider city, particularly if this isn’t your first time in Chicago.
There are dozens of museums and statement buildings that are an extension of the university, with lots of appeal to history enthusiasts.
As Hyde Park is further out of the city center and offers more offbeat tourist destinations, this might not be the best part of Chicago to stay in for first-time visitors.
It’s a great option for repeat visitors who already know the city pretty well or for longer stays.
Pros and cons of staying in Hyde Park
- Ample green spaces, beaches, and unique museums to explore that are more off the beaten path.
- It’s a fairly niche style of tourism but if you are touring the universities of the US, then this gives you the chance to tick another breathtaking campus off the list.
- As it is further out, Hyde Park lacks the overall vibe of downtown Chicago.
- Transport is limited to one subway line (Green Line) and commuter trains.
Best places to stay in Hyde Park
LUXURY – Sophy Hyde Park
Just 6 blocks away from former President Obama’s Hyde Park home, Sophy – Hyde Park brings art, science, literature, and music together to provide a sophisticated, eclectic atmosphere amidst the culture of the neighborhood. Adorned with rich wood and leather-bound detailing, the on-site restaurant offers an array of culinary classics, as well as a library with a collection of contemporary literature.
MID-RANGE – Forrestville Ave Large Suite
Located in Chicago, 1.1 miles from Oakwood Beach and 2.4 miles from Guaranteed Rate Field, Forrestville Ave Large Suite provides accommodation with 2 bedrooms, a living room, a fully equipped kitchenette with a microwave, and a kettle, and 1 bathroom with a shower and a hairdryer.
Conveniently situated in the Hyde Park district of Chicago, Best Western Plus Hyde Park Chicago Hotel is located 0.9 miles from 57th Street Beach, 1.1 miles from Museum of Science and Industry – Chicago, and 3.1 miles from Guaranteed Rate Field. This 3-star hotel offers a business center fitness center, free WiFi throughout the property, and a 24-hour front desk.
That concludes my guide to the best neighborhoods to stay in Chicago, one of the most exciting cities in the US.
I hope that my round-up has given you a greater sense of the layout of the city and with more understanding of the characteristics of the different districts and neighborhoods, you will be able to pick the best areas to stay in Chicago for your trip.
If you have any more questions about where to stay in Chicago then please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can send me an email, message me via social media, or drop a comment below.
Have you already visited the Windy City? Let me know which area you stayed in and whether you would recommend it – or the hotel – to other travelers!
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