The West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, between downtown and the Near West Side, is where Oprah Winfrey shoots her shows. It's also near Chicago's Greektown neighborhood and the Lyric Opera. The West Loop is an up-and-coming neighborhood in the midst of redevelopment. Hotels are still scarce here compared to downtown and the Near North Side, but the room rates tend to be lower, too.
Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro
The Crowne Plaza is the biggest hotel in the neighborhood and boasts fine views of the Chicago skyline in addition to amenities such as free Wi-Fi. It's within walking distance of Greektown's restaurant district as well as a full-service grocery store; several nearby businesses are open late for your convenience. In the summer, the hotel offers a "Sites in the City" package that includes public transit passes, complimentary breakfasts and cocktails and free parking.
Marriott Chicago at Medical District/UIC
Technically, this hotel is just outside the strict confines of the West Loop neighborhood and also serves the nearby University of Chicago Medical Center, the reason for most of its guests' visits. Lonely Planet says, "Jaunty striped curtains and cobalt blue coverlets pep up the otherwise plain-Jane Marriott." It does have decent views of the city, however. Free shuttles take you to the Medical Center or to nearby Little Italy.
Parthenon Guest House
If you're looking for a budget alternative, the Parthenon Guest House is a contender. The Parthenon is a hostel-type establishment and caters to the backpacking crowd. It does offer private rooms with shared bath at a decent rate as well as the usual dorm-style accommodations. Located above a restaurant of the same name, this establishment is family-run, clean, quiet and offers free breakfast. It's also across the street from a laundry facility if you need it.
New Jackson Hotel
By all accounts, the New Jackson Hotel has seen better days. It offers bargain-basement room rates, but the accommodations match the price. Sometimes tourists are fooled by its relatively attractive vintage fronting, but the inside is another story. This hotel is a relic left over from the days when the West Loop area was more than a little seedy; it is little more than a flophouse. The website Newcity warns that "unsuspecting visitors looking for a good deal may stumble upon one of those last remaining shreds of Skid Row." The Parthenon is a better bet for the budget-conscious.
- Chicago Traveler: West Loop, A Chicago Neighborhood Guide
- Lonely Planet: Marriott Chicago at Medical District/UIC
- Marriott Chicago at Medical District/UIC
- Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro
- Hostel World: AAE Chicago Parthenon Hostel
- Newcity: Bummed Out -- How Skid Row Went From “The Land of the Living Dead” to Cappuccinos and Condos
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images