On a quiet residential street one block from the popular vintage shops, bars, and restaurants of Milwaukee Avenue, the Wicker Park Inn is one of the best values in Chicago, attracting an eclectic clientele of older couples, families who book the whole place for weddings and other special occasions, and young travelers eager to live like a local amid the vibrant culture of the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods. Rooms occupy one of the city’s rare surviving 1890s row houses, while apartments with fully equipped kitchens and hardwood floors occupy the first floor and the garden-facing basement of the owner’s residence (a three-story late 19th-century walk-up, just across the street). Individually decorated, rooms and apartments share an elegant, homey look. Two on-duty innkeepers, who are neighborhood residents, are expert guides to the local scene. The one downside: noise from the Blue Line L train, which passes behind the main building.
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The Wicker Park Inn is ideally situated for exploring the most active parts of Milwaukee Avenue and Division Street, a nexus for local designers, bike shops, music venues, bars, and reasonably-priced restaurants. Milwaukee Avenue—just around the corner—has well-curated thrift stores and high-end resale boutiques; mix and match your finds with trendy Fluevog shoes and handmade Goorin Bros hats. The innkeepers send guests who show up in the morning before their rooms are ready to seasonal breakfast and brunch at the Bongo Room (1470 N. Milwaukee Ave.); for dinner they recommend Handlebar (2311 W. North Ave.), a lively cyclist hangout serving vegetarian and vegan comfort food. Two blocks away from the inn, Cumin (1414 N. Milwaukee Ave.) serves modern Nepalese. Xoco Wicker Park is the newest branch of Chicago celebrity chef Rick Bayless’s modern Mexican empire.
Need to Know
Rooms: Four rooms, three apartments; from $109. Check-in: 3 p.m.–8 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: As it is a B&B, the Wicker Park Inn has no restaurant. Continental breakfast of croissants with cheese and cold cuts, hot and cold cereals, and fresh-cut fruit is served family style on the second floor of the main building; there is a garden with chairs for those who wish to eat alfresco. Guests have access to an all-day coffee bar and refrigerator stocked with milk and juice. Spa and gym details: There is neither a gym nor a spa on the premises, but the inn provides guests passes to a local gym and boot camp classes held outdoors in Lincoln Park.
Who’s it for: Independent travelers who aren’t shy about using public transportation (or self-driving) to venture to the city’s famous sites, which are a 25-minute bus or L ride downtown. Our favorite rooms: The large, ground-floor Wicker Park room in the main building has a working fireplace and gets less noise, as it faces away from the nearby L track. Three couples or a family can share the elegant three-bedroom Bucktown Apartment, larger than a presidential suite in a five-star hotel and one of the city’s best lodging values. Getting around: There’s free parking on the street, a rarity for the city and a $70-per-day savings on the valet parking offered by luxury downtown hotels. Non-drivers should buy a weekly Ventra card pass ($28) for buses and L train trips; Millennium Park is a 20-minute ride on the Blue line metro or Number 56 bus.