Freehand: Chicago’s Luxury Hostel


Two-thirds hotel. One-third hostel. Equal parts amazing. Freehand Chicago opened its doors on June 1 to provide an affordable and luxurious overnight option to guests. This is not your typical European-style hostel. With 217 rooms, the Mezzo American-inspired establishment has such a unique vibe you can’t help but turn in circles with wide eyes as you experience secret alcoves, vintage furniture pieces and one-of-a-kind interior design.

A market visit brought us to Chicago a few weeks ago, and we jumped at the chance for a behind the scenes tour from Jared Johnson, Freehand’s Director of Sales. As easygoing and interesting as Freehand itself, Jared greeted us in the lobby and immediately made us feel right at home. He walked us across the lobby (pictured above) to Cafe Integral where I had the best cold brew in the history of cold brews. (As if we weren’t sold on this place already.)

“The [building and design] process got more luxurious as it went on,” Jared said, as we took an elevator up a few floors and stepped inside one of Freehand’s private quad rooms. (Freehand has a variety of room styles to choose from, including private or shared accommodations and two-level penthouse suites.) We were in love with the quad style, featuring two wooden bunk beds reminiscent of a train, where luxury and comfort aren’t compromised due to smaller space.


Bunks in a quad room.



Bathroom in a quad. Um, hi.

You won’t find a fitness center at Freehand. No spa either. But you will find a laundry room and kitchen, WiFi throughout the building and handcrafted cocktails at the Broken Shaker bar, located on Freehand’s main floor, being enjoyed by a fresh mix of modern nomads – international travelers and backpackers, local creatives and young American travelers. They’ve built a creative, modern environment that encourages guests to get out of the typical hotel experience.

“We market ourselves as a ‘luxury hostel or lifestyle hotel,'” Jared told us. It’s a totally unique way to experience Chicago. And located downtown on East Ohio Street, you’re right in the middle of the action the minute you step out Freehand’s door.

Freehand relies heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and has deemed it successful so far; Instagram is a great way to see what they’re up to. Freehand has a second location in Miami and is currently planning for another in LA. Interested in other types of rooms available or making a reservation at Freehand Chicago? You can do that right here. Thanks again for the tour, Jared. We have a feeling we’ll be seeing you again very soon!

Cafe Integral, located just on the opposite side of the lobby.

Cafe Integral, located on the opposite side of the lobby.

Hangout area located just past the lobby.

Lounge area located just past the lobby.

Up the stairs into the Broken Shaker bar...

Up the stairs into the Broken Shaker bar.

Broken Shaker bar, where in-house mixologists Gabe and Allad work their boozy magic.

Broken Shaker bar, where in-house mixologists Gabe and Allad work their magic.


Standard queen room.


Beautiful built-in desk featured in a standard queen room.


Helpful hallway directions.

Photos by Room & Board 

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