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10 Best Boutique Hotels in Chicago for a Unique Experience

10 Best Boutique Hotels in Chicago for a Unique Experience

When planning a trip to Chicago, choosing a Chicago hotel is one of the most complex parts. There are hundreds of options all over the city, with over 150 in the central business district alone.

Like most major cities, Chicago has no shortage of chain hotels. However, the most unique hotels in the city will be boutique hotels.

From a trendy boutique hotel like 21c Museum Hotel Chicago to historic boutique hotel choices like the Chicago Athletic Association, you can’t beat the Chicago hotel scene. Sure, regular hotels provide familiarity with certain brands, but how many of them can say they have one-of-a-kind atmospheres? Boutique hotels with fewer guests provide visitors with a more individualized experience and, frequently, better service.

You’ll find most of Chicago’s boutique hotels (and some of the best restaurants around) in the downtown area, though hotels are spread around the city too. For first-time visitors, we highly recommend staying near downtown.

However, if you’re a repeat visitor, why not take in different parts of the Windy City by staying in one of the other neighborhoods? This list is certainly not the be-all or end-all of the boutique hotels in Chicago, though we think these are the best ones.

TL;DR

Hotel Neighborhood Highlights Price Range
Thompson Chicago Gold Coast On-site restuarant, pet friendly, city views $$$
Publishing House Bed and Breakfast West Loop Quiet area, breakfast included $$
21c Museum Hotel Chicago River North Great location, spa services available $$
Chicago Athletic Association The Loop Rooftop bar, historic building $$$
The Guesthouse Hotel Andersonville Large suites, pet friendly, quiet neighborhood $$$

Best Boutique Hotels in Chicago

1. Thompson Chicago

Suite at the Thompson Chicago
Thompson Chicago / Booking.com

Address: 21 E Bellevue Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

You’ll discover the chic Thompson Chicago in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. Owned by Hyatt with shy of 250 rooms, one might not think this is a traditional boutique hotel.

In that observation, you’d be correct. However, Thompson Chicago, with its sleek aesthetics, luxury amenities, and Gold Coast location, we consider this hotel to be a boutique.

Surrounded by the dynamic luxury of the old Windy City in this storied neighborhood, the Thompson Chicago is right in the heart of everything without being in downtown Chicago. You’re only a short walk to the iconic Lake Michigan lakeshore, a mile from the famed Michigan Avenue shopping district, the Magnificent Mile. As far as boutique hotels in the city go, this one is one of the more storied locations surrounded by history on all sides.

Pros:

  • On-site restaurant: Nico Osteria
  • Room service
  • On-site fitness center
  • Free wifi
  • Pet-friendly
  • Incredible city views

Cons:

  • Not a lot of amenities for families
  • Further from activities than other hotels on the list

See Related: Things to Do in Chicago, Illinois

2. Publishing House Bed and Breakfast

Bedroom at the Publishing House B&B
Publishing House Bed and Breakfast / Facebook

Address: 108 N May St, Chicago, IL 60607

Over in the West Loop neighborhood, west of the downtown Loop, the Publishing House Bed and Breakfast is a posh, historic hotel. Housed within a former, well, publishing house circa 1909, this boutique hotel seeks to preserve its unique historical place. Formerly the Free Methodist Publishing House, the hotel opened in this historic Chicago building in 2017.

This art-filled hotel has only 11 rooms, making it the quaintest boutique hotel on our list. From the West Loop (one of my favorite neighborhoods to stay), it is only a short commute back downtown or to the Magnificent Mile.

Each room is meticulously curated with modern amenities and contemporary art. Guests here can rest assured that they will receive personalized service. You can also rent the entire house if the occasion calls for it.

Pros:

  • Rooms fitted with fine linens
  • Hotel has free breakfast
  • Small hotel
  • Free wifi access

Cons:

See Related: Is Chicago Safe? What Travelers Need To Know

3. 21c Museum Hotel Chicago

A bed and sitting area in a room at the 21c Museum Hotel
21c Museum Hotel Chicago / Booking.com

Address: 55 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611

Formerly the James Chicago, the 21c Museum Hotel Chicago in River North provides guests with both a luxury hotel experience and an art museum aesthetic. One of the things that makes this Chicago hotel even more unique is the flock of fun penguin statues that live around the premises. Just steps away from the train and a short walk to some of downtown’s biggest attractions, 21c is a fun place to stay.

Also located in nine other cities around the country, 21c aims to marry hotel accommodations with the ever-evolving style of contemporary art. 21c also has a collaboration with Soothe for on-site spa services. Guests can have services performed privately in their hotel rooms or one of the treatment rooms in the hotel.

Pros:

  • On-site dining
  • Easy access to Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile
  • Spa services
  • Free wifi

Cons:

  • Not a lot of amenities for families

See Related: Chicago CityPASS Review: Is It Worth The Price?

4. Chicago Athletic Association

A bedroom at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel
Chicago Athletic Association / Booking.com

Address: 12 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

With views of Millennium Park and a short walk to the Art Institute of Chicago, this landmark building has been part of Chicago’s landscape for decades. It’s one of the best hotels in the Midwest and if you’re into history, you’ll enjoy your stay.

The Chicago Athletic Association opened to the public in 1893, the same year the Columbian Exposition was in Chicago. This gorgeous boutique hotel in downtown Chicago is housed within a Venetian Gothic Tower, which isn’t found in many places these days.

Like the Thompson, the Chicago Athletic Association also has over 200 rooms. Even still, as part of the lifestyle hotels genre, it deserves a place on this list.

This luxury hotel offers unparalleled amenities in an elegant setting. Each guest room is immersed in the hotel’s fascinating history while still holding an air of chic modernity. Plus, the game room will keep the whole family busy even on those rest days between full-day adventures in Chicago.

Pros:

  • On-site dining and coffee shop
  • Game room
  • Concierge services
  • A historic, landmark building
  • Rooftop bar

Cons:

  • As a historic hotel, rooms can be noisy
  • Only some rooms have city views

5. The Guesthouse Hotel

The lobby at The Guesthouse Hotel
The Guesthouse Hotel / Booking.com

Address: 4872 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

On the north side of Chicago, in the neighborhood of Andersonville, The Guesthouse Hotel is a 25-room boutique hotel drenched in Midwestern charm. Created by Dave and Simona Krug in 2008, this Chicago hotel offers one to three-bedroom accommodation options.

Guests will find local art throughout the hotel to inspire their Chicago adventures. You can also check out the rest of the neighborhood, which is full of adorable boutiques and beloved eateries; my personal favorite is Lady Gregory’s. Andersonville is one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago.

What makes the Guesthouse Hotel stand out from other boutique hotels around the city is how individualized the stays here can be. Each room type is a suite, bringing an apartment-like experience to guests. You’ll have access to full kitchens and much more room for the whole family at the Guesthouse Hotel than most hotels in the city.

Pros:

  • Nonsmoking rooms
  • Large, spacious suites with kitchens
  • Mini market on-site
  • Pet-friendly with no fee

Cons:

  • Further from tourist sites and activities

See Related: Top Helicopter Rides In Chicago For Your Bucket List

6. Nobu Hotel Chicago

The rooftop lounge area at Nobu Hotel Chicago
Nobu Hotel Chicago / Booking.com

Address: 155 N Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60607

Inspired by Japanese culture, Nobu Hotel Chicago stands out against any other Chicago hotel. With just over 110 rooms, this is one of the newest luxury hotels in Chicago.

Partly owned by Robert De Niro, Nobu hotels are located worldwide from Miami Beach to Barcelona. This West Loop location has a restaurant that shares its name and a rooftop lounge. One of the perks of staying in this neighborhood is the incredible sightlines of the city skyline–don’t forget to enjoy them.

You’ll be too mesmerized by Nobu Hotel Chicago to care that it’s far from spots like Michigan Avenue. This boutique hotel is perfectly positioned near Chicago’s Restaurant Row, making it the perfect location for foodies to stay on a trip to the city. It only makes sense that a place like Nobu Hotel Chicago, with its combination of luxury collection hotel and fine dining, resides in Chicago’s most prominent foodie neighborhood.

Pros:

  • Rooftop bar
  • Namesake restaurant on the premises
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Stunning indoor swimming pool
  • Spa facilities

Cons:

  • Further from area attractions
  • Minimalist style might not suit families

See Related: Best Day Trips From Chicago, Illinois

7. Ivy Hotel

Sitting area in a room at the Ivy Hotel
Ivy Hotel / Booking.com

Address: 233 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611

Located steps from the Magnificent Mile, the Ivy Hotel opened downtown in 2012. With a rooftop bar, this is amongst the boutique hotels striving for eco-friendly operations.

Set against the famed shopping district of the Mag Mile is slightly ironic, though guests will also appreciate the access to Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park. With just 63 rooms, the Ivy is a perfect compromise between ultra-small hotels and mega-chains.

Guests staying at the Ivy also have complimentary access to CorePower Yoga and Planet Fitness. This dreamy Chicago hotel is best appreciated during the warm months when you can spend time on the rooftop lounge, though wintertime in Chicago shouldn’t be discounted. After all, from the Ivy, you have terrific walkability for skating at Millennium Park and pictures with the city’s decorated evergreen tree.

Pros:

  • Seasonal rooftop dining
  • Access to CorePower Yoga and Planet Fitness
  • Located by the Magnificent Mile
  • Room service

Cons:

  • Rooms can be noisy

See Related: Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the U.S.

8. The Talbott Hotel

The dining room at the Talbott Hotel
Talbott Hotel / Booking.com

Address: 20 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

Another of the Gold Coast’s boutique hotels, The Talbott Hotel, is another of Chicago’s historic luxury hotels. Housed within a building from the 1920s, the site has undergone many changes in the last century.

It’s been a laundromat and a jazz club where even groups like The Rolling Stones hung out. Now this hotel embraces its past with hints of Art Deco and the polished looks of today.

Not far from the Magnificent Mile, The Talbott rivals the proximity of downtown’s new hotels with the finesse of a historic locale. The shores of Lake Michigan are a short walk away, or the hotel offers in-room dining if you’d rather stay in. You’re close to most of the best things to do in Chicago from this location.

For fans of the Art Deco period, a stay at The Talbott would be the perfect bookend of an architecturally focused trip to Chicago, where Deco still reigns. If you need proof of the prevalence of Art Deco designs in the city, take a look around the neighborhood.

Pros:

  • In-room dining
  • Elegant rooms in a historic hotel
  • Walkability to area attractions
  • Pet-friendly

Cons:

  • Some rooms could use updating

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Chicago? Top Things to Know

9. Freehand Chicago

Queen room at the Freehand Chicago
Freehand Chicago / Booking

Address: 19 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

If you’re attracted to Midwestern supper clubs’ dark, broody nature, you need not look any further for boutique hotels in Chicago. Freehand Chicago is decked out in rich, dark wood accents to transport you to the coziest part of the North Woods without leaving River North. You’ll feel right at home in this 1927 neighborhood gem that oozes Midwestern charm without any of the pretension you might find elsewhere in River North.

Freehand Chicago is a casual boutique hotel with a cafe and the Broken Shaker, a trendy bar and restaurant. Easily walkable to many of the River North spots like Cafe Integral, you’ll spend much less time commuting to the city and more time enjoying it. Freehand Chicago also has family-style rooms with plenty of space for everyone; just be sure you know if you’re booking a private or shared room when booking the larger rooms.

Pros:

  • Terrific location in River North
  • In-room dining
  • Family-sized rooms
  • Public transit nearby
  • Super cozy, sleek rooms

Cons:

  • Rooms can be noisy

See Related: Chicago vs. New York: What’s the Difference?

10. The Robey

The rooftop pool area at The Robey in Chicago
The Robey / Booking.com

Address: 2018 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This is the first of our boutique hotels to be located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. This trendy, hip spot in the city is where you’ll find the historic Robey Hotel.

Before skyscrapers dominated Chicago, the Robey was a one-of-a-kind vision in the city when it was built in 1929. This Wicker Park hotel’s 89 rooms span two historic buildings, one an office building and the other a warehouse from 1905.

The Robey’s rooftop pool and three eateries set it apart from the other boutique hotels on this list and beyond in the city. When you aren’t exploring Chicago, you can still enjoy it from a distance while musing at the pool. You will be a bit further from top Chicago attractions from here, though the Damen bus stop is just a stone’s throw away.

Pros:

  • Rooftop pool
  • Hotel has three eateries
  • Offers spa services
  • Dry cleaning available

Cons:

  • The hotel is further from area attractions

See Related: Things to Do in Illinois & Places to Visit

FAQ

What is a boutique-class hotel?

Generally, boutique hotels are smaller than traditional hotels, with 100 or fewer guest rooms. Though more than that, they usually offer artistic theming, luxury amenities and are located in trendy neighborhoods in major cities. Even boutique hotels with higher occupancies still provide more amenities to guests than traditional hotels.

Which area of Chicago is best to stay in?

It’s a good idea for first-time visitors to stay in downtown Chicago so amenities are walkable. If you want a more luxe experience, stay in the Gold Coast or River North, and if you want a more artsy, hip experience, head to Wicker Park. Keep in mind that if you don’t stay downtown, you may be commuting more than you want on your vacation.

What days are the cheapest to stay in Chicago?

Weekdays offer cheaper hotel rates than weekends, no matter where you go. The hotel industry also increases room rates during holidays and certain times of the year. Late winter, like January or February, will be the cheapest time to visit Chicago.

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