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“Location the best feature of this limited hostel” 3 of 5 stars
Review of IHSP Chicago Hostel

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IHSP Chicago Hostel
1616 N.Damen, 2. Floor, Chicago, IL 60622 (Northwest Side)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #19 of 51 Specialty Lodging in Chicago
Toronto, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Location the best feature of this limited hostel”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2012

I had high hopes booking this hostel for my summer getaway to Chicago, but ended up being frustrated and disappointed in this property. While there were several strong advantages, such as location, cleanliness and price (we stayed at a premium time of the summer with several large festivals going on at the same time), these failed to outweigh the drawbacks at IHSP. These included but were not limited to: poor airconditioning, lack of natural light in many of the rooms, a poor-quality breakfast and the lack of any common-space/kitchen facilities at the secondary location. Our room was a tiny little attic space with no window and nearly non-existent air-con. This meant we woke each morning groggy, uncomfortable and wishing for a breeze. Because of the lack of common facilities (lounge area, kitchen) at the secondary location, we found ourselves eating out and spending more money than planned. The "full breakfast" included in the price of our stay, which consisted of all-you-can-eat pancakes and nothing else was no help whatsoever and went unused. When I stay at a hostel I bank on saving significantly on food, which didn't happen this time around. All of this said, the primary location did provide travellers with useful area information, such as cheap eats in the area. While the location could not have been better for our purposes, this factor alone was unable to disuade me from rating the property average at best. For a few dollars more and infinitely better services and amenities, try the HI hostel in the Loop.

Room Tip: If fresh air and natural sunlight are important to you, make sure to request a room with a window, t...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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147 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
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New York City
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2012

There are two ways of looking at this place. One is that it's a pretty good value and kind of amusing if you're 20 and in town for a rock concert. In fact, for that crowd it must be kind of fun ... there were plenty of smiling young people sitting around flirting with one another ... and I recommend it for them. The other way of looking at it is if you're over, say, 25, and want a little comfort (such as a "suite" with more in it than a bed, a folding chair, and a cranky TV, and want to go to the communal bathroom in the morning without vomit in the sink, and don't care about the people sleeping on the sidewalk outside). Or the spotty wifi. Or the fact that the door isn't marked and is right next to a scary-looking underpass of some sort. Or that the free breakfast consists of a hot plate on which you can make your own pancakes.

But the proprietors have severely oversold it. It's not a "hotel" by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the photos on its site are, shall we say, imaginative. It calls itself the IHSP Chicago Hotel, and it ain't. It's a crash pad. If you're 20 and in town to see your favorite band and want a cheap place to stay, by all means go.

Room Tip: Tell them you can good a room in the Loop for $99 (during the week) and you get your own bathroom. T...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2012 via mobile

I stayed here for three nights at the start of a travelling period. I was welcomed by a man who did not usually work there, regardless of that he knew what he was talking about, gave me a great tour and was very knowledgable about the local area. My room was of very high quality for a hostel, there was hardly ever a queue for the bathroom and it is a 5 minute walk from the metro. Aside from having to climb 4 flights of stairs to get to my room, I loved my stay and would highly recommend it to someone visiting Chicago on a budget.

  • Stayed May 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2012

Needed to find last minute accommodations for a short overnight before a very early morning flight. IHSP is conveniently located one block from the Damen stop on the Blue Line which goes straight to O'Hare (about 20 minutes day or night). Beds comfy, lots of amenities, secure, clean, pleasant and helpful staff. Oh - and even a very funky rooftop deck! Very interesting neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops. You have to pay a deposit for your key and for towels but you get it back. Also, we took the Blue line from Amtrak to the hostel (about six stops) and they took the cost of our fares off the bill ("free shuttle"). Nearby Flash Taco ($4 burritos on Tuesdays) was a great quick low cost meal. I was able to get a ONE day CTA pass (a great deal) from the Currency Exchange one block from the hostel (on W North Ave). You can only get three and seven day passes from the CTA station. They are still building and remodeling. Add IHSP to HI-Chicago as great values for Chicago travelers.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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cincinnati
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2012

I booked a room for 5(wife and three kids) with private bath over the extended Easter weekend. The big attraction was a)new facility b)private bath/room c)free garage parking d)trying something new. We hopped in the car and drove 300 miles to Chicago, stopped first at the Navy Pier to have an enjoy lunch and an afternoon touristy experience.

We soon headed to the IHSP. It took a little bit of effort to find the place and i dropped my wife off on the curb to check-in, since there was nowhere to park within blocks. I soon received a call on my cel from her stating that we weren't staying in that location (???) but, instead, one a little ways away. And without private bath.

I was very, very, very, very clear upon my pre-reservation conversation with staff that a private bath was absolutely essential. I was guaranteed i had said room after making a small deposit. (which was processed through an Italian merchant, which caused my bank's credit card department to place a block on my account for possible fraud). I asked my wife to immediately stop checking in and return to the street downstairs.

i made a quick call to a boutique hotel in The Loop who bent over backwards to provide our family free upgrades, two suites! I've always stayed at that particular location (and will be bringing seven couples there in August) and i admittedly had buyer's remorse for booking a room at another merchant in town. My wife read the online reviews of IHSP on the way to CHI and she was very concerned that we'd receive even clean towels and shower access. I told her not to worry, i was personally guaranteed this would go smoothly.

i contacted the hotel mgmt via email almost one week ago. I waited a couple weeks after our trip to chill and present them a non-emotional, factually based recap of our experience. no reply. I thoroughly expected to at least be contacted, but i guess i don't really have any skin in this game. I'm clearly never going to return to IHSP and I would strongly recommend others seek alternate accomodations in Chicago.

I could probably get a solo individual on a tight budget or a traveling student booking a room here. a family? just skip it, gang.

in retrospect we had an amazing time downtown visiting the parks and the attractions, going to a game at Wrigley via the Red Line, eating Pizano's pizza (Best in the world, thin crust) and drinking Intelligentsia Coffee (also amazing). Sure it cost 2x more than i had budgeted but at the end of the day it was a great trip.

Room Tip: Book somewhere else?
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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Charlotte, North Carolina
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2012

For our one night need in the Wicker Park area, this place was the perfect location and ideal price. We saw a show at the Double Door and it is an easy, short walk down the street. There are also plenty of shops, bars and eateries nearby.

The room I reserved was supposed to have an 'ensuite' shower which was even verified in an email, however, upon arrival we ended up with just a private room. They were friendly and apologetic and it did bring the price down so it was fine. We also reserved a parking space that we did receive and it was conveniently located behind the building we stayed in.

The common area looked nice, complete with foosball and even an old school Pac-man game.

Our room was small, clean and comfortable. The only complaint might be that it was pretty dark in there with just a lamp. The overhead light was unscrewed since I believe otherwise it would have remained on all the time.
Overall, with our private room, it pretty much felt like we were staying at a friend's house with several other people and just had to be patient taking turns in the bathroom. Although the room was private, I could definitely hear some other folks getting up early in the morning, but you'll have that even at pricey hotels.
Would definitely recommend if you are in need of a place to stay in Wicker Park.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Cork
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2012

Hostels can be an uneven experience. I've been terribly disappointed in hostels friends have sworn by and really chuffed by little unknown places I've stumbled into. This one is a gem in the middle of a beautiful little neighbourhood, Wicker Park, Chicago with restaurants, theaters and music venues. I watched "Our Lady Peace" a brilliant band unload their equipment right around the corner from the IHSP on Easter Sunday and later watched their performance then walked across the street to a impeccably stocked bistro and market, "W", for a Greek salad afterwards. This hostel has everything from nice comfortable bunks in cosy clean rooms to hot furious showers. There are computers for communal use and fast broadband for those of us stupid enough to lug around their MacBook's. The kitchen is small but very well appointed with a great stove and microwave and two refrigerators for all the lovely food from the shops and restaurants just outside. There is a secure door with an elevator for the shared rooms. There is another building with private accommodations just down Damen Road. The El is one block away with easy access from the airport or the Amtrak stations. Michael, Isabel and Mark at the front desk are wonderful. Absolutely helpful, friendly and very thorough with all you can do and see in the area. In fact everyone I met was nice. Chicago can be overwhelming but they put me at ease and printed out maps of the areas I was interested in and what buses to take to get to and fro. The vibe is young but I am old and was made to feel very welcome. Highly recommended.

Room Tip: Try the dorm rooms. They are the best deal in Chicago.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about IHSP Chicago Hostel

Address: 1616 N.Damen, 2. Floor, Chicago, IL 60622
Location: United States > Illinois > Chicago > Northwest Side , Wicker Park / Bucktown
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #19 of 51 Specialty Lodging in Chicago
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 42
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
IHSP Chicago is a European Guest House. We offer dorm beds in same sex dorm rooms for individuals and private rooms range from 1 bed to 8 people group size rooms. Please see our video on this page under "virtual tour"- we are in the best possible location to stay in Chicago. We offer Free parking, Free Breakfast, internet and wifi.We have long and short term rental units for medical students and J1 Visa holders with internships. Deluxe private ensuites with jacuzzi available for special occassions ... more   less 
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