Let’s face it- you came to Chicago to take in art, the beaches, the Loop, and all the pizza you can eat. You didn’t fly or drive all this way to lay your head down in the most expensive bed in the city. If you’re coming to town with a family, a budget can be truly essential in factoring in what you get to enjoy during your vacation time. What’s more, you have transportation figured out, so you don’t necessarily need to stay in the heart of the city. Basically, you need a place to crash that’s safe, no-nonsense, predictable, and above-all, cost-effective. That’s where great two-star hotels come in, and they can be a far more pleasant stay than you may imagine given that their emphasis is on providing a clean, comfortable, basic stay.
Odds are, you’ve probably already stayed in a two-star hotel more than once and not even realized it. National chains that could be considered two-stars include LaQuinta Inn and Days Inn. In Chicago, that could include the Hampton Inn, Best Western in Grant Park, and Travelodge by Wyndham Downtown Chicago. It’s worth noting that a two-star can be rated many more stars by review sites and according to their customers. So when you’re shopping online and you find a reasonably priced three or four star hotel according to the site’s rating system, that hotel may actually be classified a two-star.
What can you expect at a two-star hotel? It’s going to vary greatly, but cleanliness remains a key standard. While chains were mentioned, it’s possible the hotel is managed by a single owner and that the hotel will usually be smaller. Furnishings will be very basic, with firm but generally comfortable beds, a small bathroom with standup shower, perhaps a closet, a writing desk, and sitting chair. Tip- it never hurts to bring your own pillow when staying in inexpensive lodgings. You know your head and neck best, and you may find the pillows too skimpy or too hard. There might be a restaurant on site, but if there’s not there will be a selection of quality, inexpensive dining options within an easy stroll of the premises. It’s never a given, but many two-star hotels provide a continental breakfast in the cost. WiFi should be expected, as should a fair selection of cable or satellite programming.
Two-stars will often be located where there’s a good deal of public access, so as always be aware of your surroundings if you’re checking in late. Be sure to ask about evening access, as some two-star hotels may limit public access at night.