You don’t have to stay in a luxury, downtown hotel to have a pleasant stay in Chicago. A great solution that helps budgeting families avoid busting the bank for trips to America’s heartland is to choose staying in a motel over a hotel. That said, depending on the time of year or popularity of Chicago travel at any given time, motels may be slightly less competitive in price, particularly in downtown Chicago. It pays to check out the options ahead of time and decide which motel will best suit your budget and your willingness to forsake amenities.
Motels in Chicago, if they aren’t located in the downtown area, tend to cluster at major intersections surrounding the city. Those locations include, moving clockwise from south to north, Hammond, Indiana, Willowbrook, York Center, Rosemont near O’Hare International Airport, and Evanston, Illinois.
What’s the difference between a motel and a hotel? Designed to be “motorist lodges,” the motel is truly intended for the quick stay with little time spent dawdling in one’s room. Apart from the generally lower cost depending largely on the rating of the hotel, motels usually provide guests with direct access to their rooms from the outdoors and tend to be one or two stories. This can be quite handy in quickly unloading a vehicle into a room from the first floor. Walkways tend to be open to the elements, so it’s important to always watch one’s steps. They frequently feature far fewer amenities than those provided by hotels. Popular chains found in the Chicago area include Super 8, Motel 6, Econo Lodge, Knights Inn, Rodeway, Travel Inn, and Red Roof Inn. While one knows what to expect at these chains motels, one may wish to frequent a locally-owned motel, and Chicago offers numerous non-chain operated motels across the city landscape.
Despite the seeming lack of amenities such a pools, business or fitness centers, and restaurants, motels are often built near affordable family dining and fast food dining options. They generally provide free WiFi, include a mini-fridge, and provide free parking. Many motels will try to entice guests to stay with a free continental breakfast, usually consisting of cereal, coffee, toast, and a selection of fruit and pastries.
Walls may be quite thin in some motels, in particular the older ones. It may be a good investment to bring ear plugs or headphones, and use as needed. For that same reason, guests should be good neighbors and avoid loud noise after evening hours.