As summer approaches, a whole slew of new hotels are gearing up for Chicago's big tourism and convention season. And while many of the latest entries to Chicago's burgeoning hotel scene are upscale and pricey, River North's new Freehand hotel and hostel seeks to attract a younger, more design-conscious clientele. Located in the old Ralph C. Harris-designed 16 story building at 19 E. Ohio Street, the Freehand has replaced the neighborhood's dingy Tokyo Hotel, but pays homage to its predecessor through various subtle hints in its exterior and interior design. Developed by the Sydell Group, the new Chicago outpost is the second property in the growing Freehand brand. While the flagship Miami location leans heavier towards the hostel side, the new Chicago Freehand features 135 private rooms versus 80 shared rooms. Similar to the Miami location however, the new Freehand Chicago will also feature the highly acclaimed Broken Shaker cocktail bar. With interiors designed by Manhattan's Roman and Williams, the new Chicago Freehand certainly separates itself from the pack by offering affordable lodging with high design.
According to Sydell Group CEO Andrew Zobler, the design and layout of the Chicago Freehand is meant to promote a communal experience, as the hotel's ground level features a large lobby space or "living room" filled with plush couches and dim lighting. Zobler explains that Freehand is very design driven and that the idea was to "flip the idea of crummy hostels." The intention was to provide almost a residential feel with a theme that starts on the ground level and continues throughout the hotel. While the Freehand has replaced the Tokyo Hotel, the building wasn't totally gutted. "If there was any architectural detail left," Zobler explained, "We kept it." And if you look close enough at the hotel's exterior signage, you'll notice something that might look familiar.
Compared to other lodging options in the area, the Freehand is priced quite competitively at $159 per night for a single room and only $35 per bed in a shared room. The shared rooms each feature four bunk beds, a sitting area and a private bathroom, while single rooms offer a queen bed, a desk space and a private bathroom. The rooms are decked out in custom mahogany finishes with some kitschy, Midwestern touches. And for a group of travelers coming through town for a few nights, the location is easily accessible and close to downtown.
While the Freehand's food and beverage offerings are now open, the hotel formally opens on June 1. Be sure to head over to Eater Chicago for more photos of the Broken Shaker.
·The Freehand [Official Website]
·Old Tokyo Hotel Reopening As Freehand Hostel in Spring 2015 [Curbed Chicago]
·Super Dingy Tokyo Hotel Set To Undergo Major Renovation [Curbed Chicago]
·Hotel Boom Town archives [Curbed Chicago]