Accommodations for Pinkfest

(Please note: The information below is presented in good faith but the organizers and volunteers of Pinkfest make no guarantees and accept no liability for any facilities discussed below.)

Overview of options for accommodations for Pinkfest

Unlike most other TG events, Pinkfest is not centered around a hotel. Pinkfest is very much "on the town," and our activities occur in various locations around the Chicago area.

Hotels are used for attendee lodging only.

Those new to Pinkfest who are unfamiliar with the Chicago area have reported that at first they find the hotel selection process to be confusing and challenging. The popular travel sites will typically display hundreds of available hotels and it's very easy to see how the newcomer to Pinkfest can find this to be overwhelming.

This page will help guide you through the hotel selection process.

For Pinkfest we have no central hotel, and we usually see our people scattered all about the Chicagoland area. Some have their favorite hotels in which to stay. Others select their hotel on price, and some select their hotels primarily on location and convenience.

When you select your hotel for Pinkfest, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of accommodations do you need?
  • What price range is affordable to you?
    • Which is more important? Price or location?
    • Which is more important? Price or convenience?
  • Will you be driving a vehicle?
    • Will you be using your vehicle for ...
      • Transportation to and from the Chicago area?
      • Local transportation during Pinkfest?
      • Both?
  • How comfortable are you using public transit (bus, subway, etc.)?
  • Do you have a need to stay near where other attendees are staying?

Once you have a clear handle on your needs and wants, you can select the hotel which will be right for you this coming October.

Hotel options for Pinkfest ...

Let's discuss the options you have. We'll concentrate on three types of accommodations: those which are centrally-located and right in the heart of the action; those which are farther away from the central areas of the city and tend to be less expensive; and a few which are out of the way and often overlooked.

Here are a few bullet points and notes about each of these options:

  • Downtown and River North hotels.
    • Right in the heart of the action!
    • Tend to be more expensive.
    • Well-lit, well-traveled, well-patroled, day and night.
    • Usually have typical hotel corridors, lobbies, elevators, etc.
  • Suburban hotels and motels.
    • Typically less than half the cost of downtown hotels.
    • Complimentary parking almost always included.
    • Often have direct access from room to parking area.
  • Off the beaten path.
    • A few lesser-known facilities in oddball locations.
    • Often have great rates if no major events are in the area.

Tips for getting the bang for your buck!

Yes, hotels tend to be more expensive in Chicago than in Las Vegas and many other areas. However, it's rare that you cannot find an affordable hotel if you actively search and do your homework!

Here are some hints, many of which were learned through experience during the last 12 years of Pinkfest:

  • Book early!
    • This is one of the most important money-saving points!
    • "Lock in" that rate even if it's a bit higher than you like.
    • Prices usually go up, often sharply, as the date approaches.
    • Most downtown and River North hotels sell out most weekends.
  • Check back often!
    • If lower rates appear, re-book and cancel your original reservation.
    • Check multiple travel sites, agencies, etc.
    • Travel agents can often book hotels shown "sold out" on the web.
  • Consider sharing a room.
  • Consider a less convenient location.
    • Rooms in the 'burbs are typically priced less than half of downtown!
    • Suburban hotels and motels almost always have complimentary parking.
    • Many suburban hotels have shuttle services to transit stations.
  • Use frequently-overlooked discounts.
    • Most major hotel brands offer senior discounts.
    • Many motor clubs offer hotel discounts.
    • Some credit cards offer travel incentives and discounts.
  • Use a "bid for travel" web site.
    • Can save $$$$$ if exact location and hotel brand are not important.

The most important thing about saving money on hotel rooms in Chicago is DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! Book now and keep circling back.

Specific hotels:

A few notes on a number of hotels which have been used by Pinkfest attendees, and on a few which have caught our attention as potential Pinkfest accommodations. We'll discuss them in the categories listed above.

  • Downtown and River North
    • Red Roof Inn Chicago
      • Over the years, this has been one of the most popular hotels for Pinkfest. The location can't be beat and the rates are usually 30-40% lower than other hotels in the area.

        "Basic!" "Plain!" "Austere!" "Spartan!"

        You will get a comfortable bed. The room will be clean. The TV, heat and phone will work. Your room will have a private bath. The door will lock securely. That's about it.

        So? Why has this hotel been so popular with Pinkfest people, you ask? Location! Location! Location! and Cheaper! Cheaper! Cheaper! :)

      Web site:
    • Best Western River North
      • If you will be driving a vehicle, want to stay in the center of the action, and want a competitive hotel rate, this is the hotel for you!

        Unlike most hotels in the area, on-site parking, with 24 hour in-out, is free for hotel guests, meaning you pay for it whether or not you use it. Other hotels in this neighborhood typically charge $20-$40 per night for parking, if it's available at all, so factor that into your rate comparison.

        The room will be older and somewhat smallish but well-maintained and everything will work as expected.

        The on-site restaurant is surprisingly good.

      Web site:
    • Holiday Inn Express (nee' Hotel Cass)
      • This is a recently remodeled legacy hotel now carrying the Holiday Inn brand. Your room will be small but nice. The bath will have a nice vanity and modern fixtures.

      Web site:
    • Hampton Inn
      • There are two Hampton Inns in the downtown Chicago area. One is in the theater district in the Loop (Monroe St.) and the other in River North (Illinois at Dearborn). Both will have nice modern contemporary-style rooms typical of all Hampton Inn properties.
      Web site:
    • Hilton Garden Inn
      • This has nice spacious contemporary-style rooms with all of the expected amenities. The bar and restaurant are good and TG-friendly. This hotel is literally steps away from the Red Line subway station.
      Web site:
    • Holiday Inn Mart Plaza
      • This is a very large Holiday Inn behind the Chicago Merchandize Mart on the southwest side of the River North district. The room will be nice and typical of all Holiday Inn propeties. "The best surprise is no surprise."
      Web site:
    • Palmer House
      • This is a very nice higher-end Hilton property located right in the heart of the downtown theater district. Rooms are exceptionally nice and the location is centrally-located and very convenient.
      Web site:
    • Hyatt Regency
      • This is another very nice higher-end property located just south of the Chicago River. The rooms are as they should be expected at a property of this scale. Staff has been proven to be accepting.
      Web site:
    • Feelin' lucky? Are ya? huh? :)
      • These are a few properties which are in very convenient locations which do not have a history (yet) with Pinkfest attendees. All are very attractively priced, but are most definitely downscale.

      • Ohio House Motel
        • This is an older suburban-style motel located right in the heart of River North. On-line reviews are mixed. Complimentary parking is included, an exception for the area.

          It's much cheaper than anything else around!

          The attached greaso-spoono restaurant does appear to have its fans. (Update: We've had a report that the restaurant is now closed.)

        Web site:
      • Howard Johnson's Chicago
        • An older suburban-style HoJo, almost appearing out of place along LaSalle in River North.

          Rates are very attractive. On-line reviews are mixed.

        Web site:
      • TraveLodge Chicago
        • This is in the southern part of the Loop, about a block away from the Harrison Street subway station.

          Room rates are very attractive and this is one of the last hotels in the area to sell out. On-line reviews are mixed.

        Web site:
  • Suburbs
    • If you will have a vehicle and don't mind driving, staying at a suburban hotel or motel will typically save you 50%-75% over similar scale downtown properties!

      Every hotel brand known to humanity and then some, from the budget-conscious Super-8 and Econo Lodge motels to the higher-end Hyatt and Doubletree properties exist in several clusters in the Chicago suburbs, including the O'Hare and Midway airport areas, the Arlington Heights/Palatine area, and along the I-80 corridor toward the south of the metro area.

      During the weekend it will typically take 20 minutes or so to drive to downtown from the Midway Airport area, 30-40 minutes from the O'Hare area, 45 minutes or so from the Arlington Heights area, and 30 minutes or so from I-80.

      One strategy used by some Pinkfest folks is to stay at a suburban hotel or motel and then drive to a park-and-ride lot near an El station, such as River Road (Rosemont) or Cumberland and then ride into the city.

      One heads-up to be aware of. Police officers have been known to set up sobriety checkpoints on northbound Arlington Heights Road in the vicinity of Algonquin Road inconsistently but regularly. This is directly in the path from I-90 to popular Arlington Heights hotels. These are reportedly more frequent during holiday weekends or when major sporting events are happening, but have happened at other times as well.

      The lodging choices in suburban Chicagoland are too numerous to list, but there are a few which have been used by Pinkfest attendees over the years.

    • Holiday Inn O'Hare Plaza
      • Formerly Ramada Inn, now affiliated with the Holiday Inn chain. This particular hotel is of special note since it's a good compromise between convenience and price. It's one suburban hotel which is an easy walk to the Blue Line el, which offers a convenient single-seat to the Loop and an easy transfer to River North, Lakeview, and Oak Park.

        Rooms are nice and reasonably spacious, typical of all Holiday Inn properties.

        This is sometimes known as the "OJ Hotel" due to an infamous incident involving a particular guest in the 1990s. :) Researching this will be left as an exercise for the student. :)

      Web site:
    • Days Inn Elk Grove Village
      • It's almost a moot point to list this one, but it does have a rich history with Pinkfest attendees.

        It's located right next door to Hunters Dance Club, which in recent years has become less and less TG-friendly. In previous years, Pinkfesters had been known to party into the wee hours at Hunters and then stumble back to the Days Inn without risking a DUI summons.

        Rates are very attractive. Rooms are decent and typical of Days Inn properties.

        No on-site restaurant, but McDonalds adjoins the property. (Whoopee!)

        The hotel offers a convenient shuttle to O'Hare and the Blue Line subway/el station. Tney will also pick you up at O'Hare. The drivers have been known to be bribe-able to take you elsewhere, even to competing properties.

      Web site:
    • Ramada Inn Elk Grove Village
      • It's walking distance to Hunters, assuming you like to walk. Easy access from the I-90 tollway. This facility has hosted local TG events so it's known to be TG-friendly.
    Web site:
  • Off the beaten path

    These are a few various properties which may offer not-so-well-known bargains for Pinkfest attendees, depending on circumstances.

    • Super 8 Sheridan Road
      • This place flies under the radar and offers great rates if no special events are happening at either Northwestern or Loyola universities.

        Parking on site, or about a 4 block walk to the Jarvis Red Line station.

      Web site:
    • Days Inn Chicago
      • A couple of miles north of Downtown. Rates vary, but can be good if no major events are taking place at DePaul University or elsewhere in the immediate area.

        Right at the Clark/Diversey/Broadway triangle. About a 6 block walk to the Diversey Brown Line station.

        Alas, only paid valet parking is available.

      Web site:
    • Old Chicago Inn
      • The Old Chicago Inn is a small family-owned European style Bed and Breakfast with an emphasis on hospitality. The rooms are small and the facilities old, but it's comfortable, clean, safe, and in a neighborhood accepting of diversity.

        The Old Chicago Inn is just off of the Belmont Street corridor in Lakeview and is about one block from the Belmont Red Line station.

        Please be aware that some rooms share baths, but the doors do lock. Be prepared to encounter travelers of all kinds including families with small children and there is limited privacy.

      Web site:

Please feel free to use the Pinkfest Discussion Forum to discuss any Pinkfest hotel and accommodation items. If you happen to come across a good rate at a good hotel, please post a note in the forum so others may take advantage of it.

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