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
- 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
Once we got over the intial shock of being the only people in there over 25, and that we needed to use the room card to operate the lift, we really enjoyed our stay. We stayed for 3 nights and location couldn't be better, the staff were all very friendly and the room although small had everything we needed. As has been mentioned before, the bed was low but it was very comfortable and we slept well. The coffee shop was a bonus although there are plenty of other places in the area for coffee or breakfast if you prefer. The only thing that wasn't that good was the safe, which was not attached to anything and I found it could easily be lifted out, so someone could just take the whole safe if they wanted. It seemed also that the safe had a pre-set code, which is unusual these days. Perhaps they need to invest in a digital one and attach it to the wall? We decided not to use the safe and carried everything with us, so no great hardship. We didn't chose this hotel, it was part of a holiday package, but having stayed here we would stay again if in Chicago and would recommend.
My husband booked the Freehand since were we were traveling to Chicago for a concert without our kids. The location is perfect, right in our wheelhouse of six bloocks north, south and/or west of Michigan Ave at the river. The check in desk staff was extremely courteous and helpful including storing our bags after checkout for a few hours. I eyed the bed with some suspicion since I didn’t see springs but it was very comfortable. The room was smaller than normal yet very funky and fine for two people. The price was right since hotel rooms were in high demand.
I left my Bose speaker in the room. Realized it the next day. Called for 2 days trying to get someone to answer me. Just now a girl called back and said nope. She didn’t find anything The thing is, i know for a fact i left it in the room. Total lying thieves.
This hotel exceeded every expectation, in every way possible.
First and foremost, the hotel itself is beautiful. The atmosphere is trendy, bohemian chic - something out of The Great Gatsby with a modern twist. The lounge area was perfect for relaxing after a long day, and the Broken Shaker had such a speakeasy vibe, I would return every night if I was from Chicago.
The room was clean, comfortable, and equally as stunning as the rest of the hotel. I loved the subway tile in the bathroom and while the room was snug, every area was thoughtfully designed as to not waste space and increase coziness. The TV came with an HDMI cord so we had no problem streaming movies on the nights we stayed in.
As the cherry on top, the staff of the hotel was 10/10. They took the time to write down the best places to eat in the area, gave us coupons for activities, and kept us company while we waited for Ubers. They were such a breath of fresh air every morning and night and I really appreciated their grace handling our check in and check outs.
If you're looking for a hotel in Chicago that won't break the bank but will make you feel like you are, The Freehand is the hotel for you. I promise you, it's the best bang for your buck in the entire city and you will find yourself wanting to return again and again. I know I will be back, and I know it will be fantastic.
My daughter and I spent two nights here! AHH--MAZING!! The facility is so quiet and restful. The staff is made of angels who even remembered that my daughter had a big dance audition! They see hundreds of people everyday and they asked her how the audition went!! The room was comfortable. We loved the whole experience!