When I travel outside of the US, I often try to stay at bed and breakfasts. I love the personal attention I get at a b&b. I like the inside tips I get from the owners, who are usually more than happy to sit and chat over a glass of wine and offer recommendations on where to go and what to see in their city. I prefer staying in one of a city’s neighborhoods, rather than downtown, so I can imagine what life would be like if I actually lived there. And I like feeling as though the owners really care that I am there, rather than that I am just one of the many faceless guests at a hotel. These b&bs tend to be simply decorated, with modern furnishings. They’re relaxed, informal places where I can just as easily make friends with fellow travelers as I can keep to myself and enjoy my privacy.
Unfortunately, it seems that in the states, b&bs are envisioned as places overtaken by calico and creaky antique furniture, where “wine and cheese” hour strikes fear in the heart at the thought of awkward, enforced socialization and boring conversation with the far too perky elderly innkeepers. And that may certainly be the case at many bed and breakfasts around the world. But fear not, if you’re planning a trip to Chicago there are several stylish, accommodating options for fun, relaxing b&b stays around the city. Here are just a few.
Ray’s Bucktown B&B
Ray’s garners stellar reviews on TripAdvisor and is perfectly located for anyone seeking to experience some of Chicago’s trendy nightlife. Ray’s is right in the heart of Bucktown, a young ‘hood full of bars, restaurants, and boutiques that is just over 10 minutes from downtown on the El. The b&b offers 10 rooms, most of which have pillow-top mattresses, TVs with DVD and TIVO, free wi-fi, and phones with free local and long-distance calls. Some rooms have en-suite bathrooms, and rooms in the “Annex” have access to a shared kitchen. There is a free cooked-to-order breakfast daily, free parking, free use of the house’s Mac computers, and a steam room and sauna. Rates are on par with most other Chicago hotels and range from $119-$199 a night, but taxes are only 11.9% (downtown hotel tax is $14.9%).