What We Love
- Jetsetter 2015 Best of the Best Finalist: Best Style Steal
- Occupies the old Tokyo Hotel, a 1920s landmark close to the area’s best shops and restaurants
- Hostel friendliness with big-hotel perks, including free WiFi, 24-hour front desk staff, a restaurant and bar, guest lounge and more
- Playful design courtesy of the team at Roman and Williams (they've worked with Ace Hotel NY, Viceroy New York and more)
- Cocktails and street-food fare at hotspot Broken Shaker, plus coffee and Mesoamerican comfort food at Café Integral
What To Know
- Expect a young crowd and social atmosphere
- Around 40 percent of the rooms are for shared occupancy, but don't worry, your Jetsetter room will be a private one
- The hotel is located in Chicago’s hip River North neighborhood
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
The second property from the trailblazing Freehand brand, this 217-room design hotel opened in a revamped 1920s landmark in Chicago’s increasingly hip River North neighborhood. Part hotel, part hostel, the Freehand all about honest but playful design. Like its Miami sibling, around 40 percent of its guest rooms are for shared occupancy (but don’t worry, your Jetsetter digs will be private). Expect a young crowd and social atmosphere whether it’s over breakfast in Cafe Integral, cocktails in it-bar Broken Shaker, or a midnight feast in the communal kitchen. Private rooms are on the small side but outfitted with all the modern comforts (WiFi, TVs, en-suite bathrooms stocked with posh Argan products, and more) in a high-style mix of wood, leather and vintage accents. The design team at Roman and Williams (Ace Hotel NY, Viceroy New York, the High Line Hotel and more) lean on the Windy City’s rich architectural history and Frank Lloyd Wright connections to craft a highly tactile, heritage look from the dark wood wainscoting and vintage textiles to the bespoke furniture and statement light fixtures.
In the Area
Rent a Divvy bike and roll through the lakefront, past the Chicago River, across the Navy Pier and around some of the city’s famed neighborhoods. Now that Chicago has its very own Michelin guide, eat at some of the city’s starred restaurants. Within walking distance are Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and Carrie Nahabedian’s Naha. Don’t miss the laughs at the world famous Second City, where such luminaries as Dan Aykroyd, Steve Carell and Tina Fey have performed. The downtown Art Institute houses famous works including American Gothic by Grant Wood and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. And don’t miss the Freehand’s own insider guides for the best places to get cultured, where to shop and where to eat in the Windy City.
How to Get There
I stayed at this hotel two years ago and it was very charming. I looked forward to returning but I was very disappointed on this trip. When I first entered the room I noticed the windows were filthy and there were strange stains on the wall. I went back to the front desk and asked to change rooms. I was told they were fully booked but to come back tomorrow and they would find a new room. That night and the next morning I discovered the bottom sheet had a hole in it, the comforter had large stains and the shower curtain was moldy.
I repacked my bags the next morning and left them with the front desk. They said they would have my new room key when I returned that evening. When I returned the young guy at the front desk retrieved my bag but seemed unaware of the room change. He asked me what my original room number was and he said I would need to go back to my original room. I was not pleased about this but didn't have a choice considering how late it was.
The next day they did find me a new room. It was cleaner but this hotel is gross and I will not stay here again. They seem understaffed and the customer service was terrible.
Freehand is a boutique hotel with an eclectic decor and very laid back energy, but with a big city vibe. Loved the use of space in the double bunk rooms, and appreciated the electrical outlets in each bunk post for our phones and tablets. The bar/lounge is very relaxed, with lots of custom cocktails should you so desire. HIGHLY recommend!
Was not happy about waiting an extra hour to have the room cleaned,when we finally got into the room there were hairs on the bed and some type of bugs flying around , my wife said we are out of here! Went to check out they made no attempt to accommodate us found another place down the street.
We stayed at the Freehand for 3 nights.
The staff was amazing - especially TJ, who helped us check in early, gave us directions to the closest public transit, and helped us hailing a cab (we are country folk) when we checked out.
The rooms were nice but VERY small. Our AC was broken, we noticed it the first night and mentioned it in the morning to TJ at the front desk and he had the maintenance staff fix it by the afternoon when we got back.
The hotel was close to everything downtown and to the Red Line.
We had a great timed!
My recent stay at Freehand was a great experience! All of the staff were helpful- from the front desk to the barista at the coffee bar. The room was clean and quiet. I did not have wifi in the room but always accessible in the lobby and common areas on the first floor.
The property is a quirky collection of art, pottery and plants with a mixed crowd of locals and guests meeting for business and pleasure. The location is fabulous, within walking distance of many sites. I would recommend this property without hesitation but hope that the wifi issues can be resolved.