Located in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown, the 46 guest room Chinatown Hotel is not for everyone. Picky people wouldn’t like it. (as noted by comments on various hotel booking websites) But if you are looking for safe, clean enough, and downright cheap with free on street parking–a block from the Red Line, just minutes from Chicago’s downtown, I’d give it a try. I have. Twice. This last time was the night of Chicago’s Festival of Lights Parade.
As a person who lived in Taiwan for two years and traveled extensively through Asia, one of the things I like about Chinatown Hotel is that it looks like its location and name. The towering Chinese vase in the lobby and the Chinese lettering on the signage are not what you’d find at a hotel designed to look similar to the others. The clocks on the wall set to various time zones indicate a world traveler clientele.
Our third floor room meant hoofing our luggage up the flights of stairs and down a narrow hallway. There’s no elevator, so ask for a first floor room if hoofing luggage isn’t possible for you.
Still, despite the lack of channels on the TV–there were two, one that played a Chinese station and the other that was airing “Dracula” , the version with Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder and Gary Oldman, there was free WiFi. Plus, the first floor has a “lounge” with a computer and a large refrigerator for guest use, complimentary coffee and tea (the water dispenser has a hot water valve) and a table for anyone who wants to hang out.
Both times I’ve stayed here the staff has been helpful and friendly.
In the case of this stay, the room I requested with two double beds via Hotel.com wasn’t available so we were switched to two rooms with double beds. After I said that wasn’t appropriate because I had to leave in the morning for a conference and I didn’t want my son to be alone while I was gone, we were switched to the suite so my son would still be with my friend and her daughter. There wasn’t a price increase. The downside was the suite only had a double bed and a single bed. Fortunately, we had an Aerobed with us so I set my son up on the floor with an extra blanket between the carpet and the Aerobed. Also, I do think there are more than two TV channels, but we weren’t sure how to work the remote and didn’t bother to ask.
If you do give Chinatown Hotel a try, you may need to drive around the block a few times to find a free on street parking spot. Or park in the pay lot next to the Red Line stop. It’s a fraction of what parking costs downtown. Also, take time to walk around the neighborhood–some of the building details are fabulously ornate. If you’re looking for unique dining check out Phoenix Restaurant. It’s considered the best place for dim sum.
214 W. 22nd Place
Chicago, IL 60616
Photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein