I am a Hackney refugee living on the Thames Estuary, for the moment. You can read my blog at www.makemeadiva.wordpress.com
Published June 24th 2013
High quality, welcoming budget accommodation
A dormitory bedroom
This hostel is an absolutely great place to stay when in the Windy City. I was travelling alone and was pretty tired after a transatlantic flight from the UK via Canada, but the hostel is dead simple to get to from O'Hare International Airport. Just board the CTA Blue Line from the airport (you can only travel southbound) and within about quarter of an hour you are at Damen stop. Get off there, descend to street level and you are yards from an intersection with a massive Walgreens store on the corner. IHSP Chicago is right next door to that landmark. If you use the Blue Line to get there, present your ticket to the staff on arrival and they will refund you the $5 fare.
The hostel staff are really welcoming and helpful. I had booked into dorm accommodation and there are free lockers you can use in the rooms. They provide your bedding and towels as well, and there was also a box for people to leave unused toiletries, so if you have forgotten your shampoo or shower gel, there's a good chance you will find something in there.
I had booked into the female dorm, and as you are sharing, there is a bit of noise, but people were considerate and the noise was not unreasonable. The hostel closes the common room area at midnight. There is free WiFi access and also three PCs if you fancy working at a real keyboard, as I did. There is a fair usage policy of half an hour, but it's plenty to send a few emails or check your Facebook.
There is a roof deck which is worth a visit for the view at night. It was a bit cold up there when I visited in April, but on a warm summer's evening you could chill out with a beer (the hostel allows alcohol). The hostel staff also run a pub crawl if you fancy getting out and about and meeting new people, and there are bars and restaurants within a stone's throw if you want to be independent.
In the morning you can help yourself to free tea and coffee, and there is plenty of pancake and waffle batter to make a free breakfast. If you want a more fancy coffee, there is a Caribou coffee shop over the road. The staff have the lowdown on the city and if you need any information, just ask. There was a real mix of people there when I stayed, I was there two non-consecutive nights for flying in and out of Chicago. They will look after your luggage for free if you have a late flight but want to see town before heading to the airport and if you are in a car, there is parking, but you must email in advance to book a space and there is a small charge for guests in dorm rooms.
I am in my mid-forties and thought my hostel days might be behind me, but IHSP is a great place and with prices in dorms averaging less than $20 USD it is brilliant value. I would certainly stay there again. They also have private rooms for a bit more money, but still a lot less than a city hotel. Highly recommended.