The Getaway Hostel: Chicago, IL

This post is the first in my new travel series of blogs, full of helpful tips and tricks as recommended by me, JJ, the friendly Canadian traveller.

Today we’re featuring The Getaway Hostel located at 616 West Arlington Place in Chicago, Illinois.

Skip all the way to the bottom of this post to see if I recommend it or not, otherwise, enjoy the post!

Chicago Getaway Hostel; Front.

My flight from Toronto was in the early morning, and I knew I’d make my way into the hostel well ahead of the scheduled check in-time, so I took my time getting to this part of town and walked from the train station so that I could start to get a feel for the city.

When I travel, whether alone or in a group, I’m not the type of person that likes to be glued to their phone sifting through Yelp reviews. Instead I just wander around and if something looks interesting, I stop to check it out. Here’s a small gallery to help walk you through my journey from the Chicago O’Hare airport to the hostel.

So instead of taking the number 8 bus at Halstead/Grand, I opted to walk the rest of the way. I had bought the 3-day “special” CTA train pass but it turns out, since I didn’t otherwise use any public transit in Chicago aside from the train itself, that was a bit of a waste of money for me. The individual train cost to use the blue line is only $3, and I foolishly paid $15. No big deal; as a tourist, I know half the reason I’m there is to spend my Canadian dollars in the city I’m visiting, and frankly I’d rather give it to the transit system than some of the other options.

The random pictures above are all things I saw that caught my eye on my walk (luggage in toe). Chicago is full of silly things, but the most interested stuff to me ended up being some of the art you come across on the street and all the historical plaques.

I was also surprised as to how large the Chicago Tribune building was. I’m a bit of a newspaper nerd; it’s a dying art and we need more funding to support great journalists, but that’s neither here nor there.

Welcome to The Getaway Hostel

The walk to the Hostel from Grand station was something like an hour (I’m a bit faster than what Google Maps lists in Chicago, as it turns out, I was early to arrive everywhere I went).

We made it! Ahead of check-in.

When you first enter The Getaway Hostel you’re supposed to click the little intercom button on the inside door; I’d later find out they often just leave this door straight up open, so, not the most secure entrance.

The main floor of the Hostel is really well done; when you arrive, you really feel like you’ve entered a great safe space. I mention this because I was paying $25/night for my dorm room, so I expected it to look more run-down than it did; it also had 1-star reviews all over the internet, but I booked my stay anyway.

I don’t terrible mind staying in lower-rated hotels/hostels/motels for the simple reason that, I really just need a place to throw my bags and a place to sleep. I otherwise am not someone who hangs out in the space, no matter how nice the renovations look. Here are some photos of the main floor of the hostel.

Looks pretty nice, right? $25 a night! You can’t make this stuff up!

When I approached the front desk their were two young men handling the counter, a white guys and an Asian guy. I say this because the level of a diversity in any establishment says a lot about it. I explained I was early and they said that it was no problem and they checked me in quickly.

Their run down of the hostel was remarkably brief.

“There is breakfast from 7-9AM in the kitchen, and filtered water available from the tap. The kitchen itself is actually closed (reduced service) due to COVID but there’s a fridge you can put your food on, just label it with your name.”

Not the most secure, but again, $25 a night.

The asian guy showed me to a map on the right wall and pointed out some places to eat just up the block. “Plenty of options,” he said while noting the asian cuisine.

I’m Polish-Canadian, and I don’t really eat asian cuisine (I’m not a fan of fish or all the sauces), and I only mention this because I think people who recommend restaurants should try to take a quick glance or at least ask the guest where they might like to eat. For example, I would have asked him the best place to get pizza. But I was tired, and wanted to hit the town.

They didn’t explain at all where the bathrooms were which was my biggest concern at the time; I hadn’t gone at the airport before leaving.

Nonetheless, I repeated back to them where to find my dorm room, “down the hall on your left there’s a door, and then your door is through there.” Okay. Thanks.

Room 108. Bunk 3. Top.

Here’s a snap of my room.

My bunk. I’ve never gone to summer camp, but my brothers had bunk beds at the cottage and I always liked being top bunk, so I was totally okay with this. Seemed clean, fresh linens; cool.

I didn’t take a picture of the full room because people had already been in there and I feel weird taking photos of other peoples belongings. But I’ll say this; I had reserved an 8-person dorm and this was a 10-person. No problem, just an opportunity to make more friends, I thought.

I changed quickly, headed to the kitchen to fill my water bottle and got out of there because I didn’t want to waste any more daylight. I didn’t even look for the bathrooms yet; I forgot, because I wanted to walk to the waterfront. That’s my favourite thing to do on the first day I arrive somewhere if there’s a body of water, I like to go check it out.

Wednesday Afternoon, 1-7PM or so.

Here are some pictures of things I checked out on my first day in Chicago.

The area I was in was mostly residential homes, so I didn’t take too many pictures of that. I passed a lot of theatres in Chicago but they all seem to be getting torn down or renovated; in the case of this first one, it was boarded up a bit and spray painted with Black Lives Matter.

One thing I really liked and took note of in Chicago is how many Black Lives Matter slogans or otherwise artwork showcasing great black Americans were around town. That stuff comforts me because it shows how inclusive the city is, and truly, it is a very diverse city.

As I headed to the waterfront I came across Lincoln Park and Lincoln Park Zoo. Another comfort for me. I love a city that takes pride in its natural ecosystem and offers things like this for free to walk around and learn more about the wildlife and plant life. It’s also full of plaques and statues to learn more about Chicago’s rick American history, which I did.

Plus the name, reminded me of the band Linkin Park and I felt very much where I should’ve been in that moment; Chester Bennington is one of my favourite singers of all time and I was thrown and torn by his suicide when I heard the news. I imagine, the way I felt in that moment, was the way so many Nirvana fans felt when Kurt Cobain died, too (I was a little too young to understand, then, though I do remember the day well; my older brothers were fans).

When I checked in the front desk guys told me I could use my key card to either enter through the front door as I did, or through a back gate. On my way back from the water, I stopped for a pizza because I was starving; that kind of starving where you know you need to eat but you know as soon as you start eating you’re going to feel full, so I skipped the deep dish and went for an Italian thin crust at a place called The Little Meatball.

Italian Cheese Small 12″ for Jaimee (close enough, G! She didn’t ask for the spelling, so this is pretty good.)

Another thing I learned in Chicago is that Americans still use QR codes. And like, everywhere! They’re everywhere! These never took off in Canada, only very briefly for like 1 year 10 years ago. Here, especially during COVID, they’re a godsend.

The woman who served me at The Little Meatball was super polite, she even complimented my mask.

“What’s that on your mask?”

Me, awkwardly almost pulling it down to check, “Oh, uh, I think it’s one of Jimmy Eat World’s band masks.” I have several masks.

“It looks really cool!”

“Thanks!” I checked myself out in the very obvious mirror I could have used initially. It was the Future’s mask. I continued to wait politely for my pizza. It took about 10 minutes or just a bit more, meaning it was fresh AF. I didn’t mind the wait.

Just what the doctor ordered, and sliced just the way I like it, into small nearly bite sized slices.

It was delicious.

I didn’t want to head back to the hostel just yet so I actually stopped to eat it at an adjacent street. This is where I stopped.

A Roman Catholic Church in Chicago, IL.

What actually caught my eye about this first was on the left side of this church is a small sitting area with benches that looked really nice. I ended up sitting on the steps instead which is where I realized it was a Roman Catholic church.

I’ve said before that I’m not religious and that’s true, but I do love the architecture of some churches, and being raised Roman Catholic sometimes seeing them makes me feel oddly at home; other people in my family are far more religious than I have ever or will ever be and it makes me think about them.

Wednesday Evening; 8PM or so.

When I approached the back of The Getaway Hostel, I noted how sketchy the alleyway was. I don’t have a picture but when you walk through it before it opens up into the patio, it’s definitely one of those alley’s where you’re like, “hope no one pops out and tries to abduct me tonight.”

Here’s the patio:

Where you can see that blue light over to the left is where I walked in from.

You do in fact need a pass card like I had to initiate the lock on the gate, but as you can super clearly see from this photo using the tables and chairs for scale, if you forgot your key you could totally hop this thing with ease, even if you were a small child.

Here’s some other views of the patio.

Adirondack chairs! Nice! Feels like Muskoka, Ontario now.

Now, where you see those blue lights inside is right where the door is to get into the hostel. No pass card required! The blue lights are vending machines, full of your standard hostel essentials like chips, pop, and condoms.

As if anyone’s gettin’ it on in these tiny bunk beds, man. Definitely not my scene.

No feminine hygiene products; pathetic, I muttered to myself.

There was an extremely lax mask policy at this place, but I was careful to wear mine as much as possible.

Like, so pretty though!

This patio is kinda random because on the one hand it looks kind of European with the way they decorated it, but on the other hand it has Muskoka chairs so you feel like you’re at the lake (it’s quite a walk to the water from here).

And if you look at the building itself while you’re facing the parking lot, suddenly you realize this building is shaped like one of two things: a parking garage or a prison. Neither are particularly comforting to a solo female traveller.

I started to wonder how many rooms were in this place. How many levels up it went, and where the stairs or elevator were to get there. I was about to be even more surprised when I went back inside.

I made my way back to my dorm to see someone sitting on a bed near mine. I said “Hi” and he said, “Hi” back. Seemed shy.

It’s cool, I was tired and wanted to get to bed early so that I was rested up for what was sure to be a long day at Lollapalooza; they had just updated the bag policy at approximately 8:00PM and I knew I was in for a challenging admission process.

Not knowing how full the hostel was, but noting how quiet it was this time of night, I used this opportunity to check out the bathrooms and take quick shower before bed; I was full of sand and there’s nothing worse than sleeping in sandy sheets for 4 nights.

Okay, there are a few worse things…

I exited my room and looked left and right. “Now where the hell are the bathrooms,” I mused. There was no signage where I stood, again, directly across from the communal eating area; a prime location for a large map or directional signs, if you ask me.

To my left was a pair of double doors, and there was a key pad there, too, but it turns out you don’t need one there either. I walked through. Ah, elevators, there you are.

I walked to the back wall and opened a door, then glanced back at the small sign on the wall. “Oh, yeah, so the bathrooms are this way,” I thought and peered down the long hallway ahead of me.

For the record, this sign doesn’t even make sense because the Lobby arrow should face down to note that it’s back in the direction you walk from.

And the stairwell is the same stairwell you take to the laundry room, so I don’t know why those arrows are different either.

I digress.

9 levels down?! 9?!

I thought about how confusing this place must be for people returning while drunk and high. I do neither so I wasn’t concerned about me per say but, for everyone else, I’m sure it was quite the weekend.

Bathrooms this way. “But where?” Keep walking.

The door you open by that sign up there leads first to the stairwell, so you have to go through yet another door to get to this sketchy hallway that leads to the women’s washroom. I don’t have a picture but on the walls here leading to the very real bathroom door are a series of fake doors.

I was very much feeling like Chicago is the type of city that likes to mess with tourists by this point, and I’d only been here a couple of hours.

Women’s sinks on Wednesday, July 28th, the day before Lollapalooza.

There are 3 sinks in this washroom, 3 bathroom stalls (1 accessible) and 4 showers. For 9+ levels of potential women to use at any given time of day and night. And the soap dispensers are broken. Only 2 soap dispensers.

This one was shooting upwards until I turned it. Upwards!

Here are some more snaps of the bathroom.

At least they had at least 1 disposal unit for feminine hygiene products. I used the accessible one initially, pretty sure there’s not one in there.

On the wall in front of the 4 showers you see above, there are a couple hooks and barely any shelf space for your products. And nowhere to put those products or your towel within the shower stall itself. Fortunately I was the only one in there and I shower quick.

Needless to say I was pretty unimpressed with the bathroom but again, $25 a night; I’m not a complainer, generally, especially for such a low low rate. But I was still a little concerned about what lay 9 floors below me.

I headed back to my dorm room and realized there was another dude in his bunk beside the quiet one that said hi earlier. They both seemed to have the same plan as me and were trying to get to sleep early; the lights were on full, and I found this odd. I found it odder when I hopped up into my bunk and the 6 or so very bright lights shown almost exclusively into my eyeballs.

It was going to be a long night. I hadn’t even seen a light switch except for the one for the small lamp on the wall beside my bed and outlet.

I plugged in my phone and tried to fall asleep to the roar of the A/C on the floor below me.

72 degrees. Good thing I had a sweater.

Midnight, or so.

I woke up around midnight with a stuffy nose and very tired eyes. The lights were still on and a few more of my hostel mates had made their way to their bunks; restless, all of them, except one who was snoring loudly to the right of me on the bottom bunk.

I debated whether it would be better to keep tossing and turning or just switch rooms. The air quality was terrible and the A/C unit wasn’t helping. The lights were driving me crazy. It reminded me of my brother talking about how on the reality TV show Big Brother (I don’t watch) they would sort of banish some contestants into a hostel-like room with the lights on full, like warlords do with POW’s to make them crack under pressure. I was starting to feel more and more uneasy with The Getaway Hostel experience.

At this point I’ll note, and it’s the same thing I told the front desk guys when I checked in, I’ve never stayed in a hostel. But because I have this idea in my mind about travelling around Europe, busking and playing music to whoever who will listen, I thought I’d ease into the experience with an American one (because the language barriers are surely going to be a challenge once I make my way overseas). So there’s a lot I don’t understand about hostels, but these guys didn’t seem to apt to exchange any information about it.

So while staring at the ceiling and listening to the rustling of my bunk mates, I decided maybe I’d just try to get a more private room and spend a little more in this otherwise very affordable hostel. After all, this 4 night stay only cost me $120 or so, and my flight was free with my Aeroplan rewards points, so I was feeling like I had some wiggle room. I’d also recently upped my limit on my BMO Mastercard; the perks of paying your many bills on time.

So I threw on my black Jimmy Eat World Mesa AZ sweater (my summer sweater), donned my hood and headed sleepily to the front desk.

I approached the front desk where a man I hadn’t met before stood at the computer. On the left side, below the plexy glass you see in the picture above is a computer where they handle all the reservations. The exchange I had afterwards sealed the deal about my feelings about this hostel.

Jaimee: Hi there.

The man: Hi.

His tone was eerie. I continued.

J: I have a question. (I began slowly, knowing it was going to sound a little foolish). I’m having a terrible time trying to sleep and I think my room mates are as well. The lights have been on full all night, and I’m wondering if that’s on purpose or —

The man: If the lights are an issue just turn them off.

He sounded like a sociopath. His tone was slow and steady, almost too calm even for a night manager at a hostel. The best way I can describe it is he was the embodiment of every single serial killer motel owner from every single motel based horror movie I have ever seen in my life.

I pressed on.

J: But does anybody know this because everyone else seems to think they’re supposed to be on, too.

The man: Just turn off the lights then.

He sounded like a teacher sassing a student who had raised their hand to go to the bathroom. “If you have to go, just go.”

J: Okay, well, while I’m here, I’m also just wondering about if there are any other rooms, smaller rooms, because I’d like to upgrade if possible.

The man: We’re already pretty full up but I’ll look.

I waited. Such a scary, even tone. Too high pitched for his body. So little body movement as his fingers slapped the keyboard. He asked for my name, I gave it.

The man: There is one room.

Great, I thought.

The man: It’s a 3-person room.

He paused.

The man: It’s outside of your budget.

I stared him dead in the eye.

J: I would really be careful about making comments like that to your guests who are asking for an upgrade.

I was mildly stunned. Did he think I expected the room for free? I had a credit card on file.

J: Thanks for your help.

I walked away and went to the bathroom. Empty, thank God. I thought about his tone.

Who the fuck did this motherfucker think he was? Does he talk to all guests like this or just the women? Did he think I looked like a boy? Does that make a difference?

I walked right back to the front desk.

J: Excuse me again. What’s your name?

The serial killer sociopath man: Dutch.

His voice lingered on it. Obviously a fake name. Funny, I thought, for a hostel called “The Getaway”.

J: Thanks a lot, Dutch.

I went back to my room.

I located the light switch on the wall to the left of the door.

I turned off the lights.

I hopped into my bunk.

Dutch.

This place is definitely a prison. What the fuck kind of customer service is that? I was literally trying to pay more money and you dare insult me? Me, a Canadian tourist?

I was furious. If not for me, but for all the women I had seen walk into the hostel up until this point. And for the small children I saw playing in the lobby earlier. How does this guy speak to them?

I pulled my phone off my charger. I knew I wasn’t going to be staying.

I drafted an e-mail to the hostel knowing it might go to Dutch first. I was careful about my wording; polite, courteous.

Then I deleted it and started again.

Then I hopped onto twitter.

The e-mail.
The tweet that started it all.

If you follow me on twitter you know there were several tweets that came after this. I’m not going to post them right now, feel free to sift through at your leisure (you can filter by date!). I was not polite, but to be fair, neither was Dutch.

I knew in the morning I would have to bring this to the attention of the hostel manager.

I went to sleep, soundly. Worst sleep I’ve had in a while. I woke up stuffy and immediately the previous night experience weighed on my mind. It was about 6AM.

I thought about the 9 levels below me.

I had to take a walk around.

I got changed, brushed my teeth, and started snapping more pictures of the hostel.

Something about seeing the Chicago Tribune on my walk to the hostel ignited something in me. “I’ve gotta tell people about this place,” I thought to myself.

I made my way to the stairwell, hesitating. To go up, or to go down. I remembered the laundry room; let’s start there.

Before I even had a moment to walk down a single step, a young woman approached me in the stairwell; lost.

“Excuse me, I went down to my room but my pass card doesn’t work.”

I’m familiar with pass cards because in my recent job as Operations Assistant and Events Coordinator for Osgoode Professional DevelopmentYork University, I was the person responsible for ensuring new employees got pass card through Cadillac Fairview Security, which I would escort them to and double check to make sure their card access worked and that they knew all the hours and doors in which it would be necessary to use them, as our building is connected to the Eaton Centre mall and our hours operate outside of theirs.

“Oh no worries, you just checked in?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s usually an easy fix, you usually just have to get them to reprogram it, it’s a common mistake, I’ll go back to the desk with you.”

It’s in my nature to be this kind to strangers because of all my years of customer service experience.

While we walked back I asked her a couple questions, “did they tell you where the bathrooms were or anything like that when you checked in?”

“No”

“Oh okay, so those are actually right here,” I showed her the door. “Way at the end of the hall, the far right door.” I had no idea if there were other bathrooms on her floor or in her room. While we walked back I explained everything else I’d learned about the kitchen and filtered water and anything else I could think of.

The calm before the storm.

When we arrived at the front desk, Dutch was on the phone, so I asked her if she was in town for the festival as I presumed most guests were.

“Oh, no. There’s a festival?”

“Yeah it’s Lollapalooza this weekend.”

“Oh, I’m actually just here for a solo trip for my birthday.”

“Oh no kidding! That’s actually what I’m doing too, but I’m also going to 1 day of the festival. When’s your birthday?”

“The 30th.”

“No shit! Me too! Happy birthday!”

We had become fast friends. I got her name and gave her mine.

Dutch got off the phone.

“Hey Dutch, her pass card isn’t working, I think you need to reset it.” (Or something to that effect). He turned his attention to the girl, ignoring me completely.

I stood around while they spoke and waited until Dutch said he’d bring her down to the room to make sure it worked.

“Okay, see you around?”

“See you around.”

As they walked away I thought about how creepy it would be for sociopath Dutch to walk me down 9 levels to a room. I almost shuddered at the thought. They’ll be fine, I reassured myself.

I walked back to the stairwell and made my way to the laundry room, all the while thinking about. how many guests had asked me where things were in this place. Me, who had just checked in not even a full day before.

Normal, I guess, as far as crappy communal laundry rooms go, but I couldn’t bare the thought of having to use it. Thank God I was only here a few days, at best.

What kind of system is Dutch on, I wondered.

I went outside for some fresh air and sat on the patio with my water bottle thinking about all the young folks who would be trekking in from wherever to go to Lollapalooza.

While I sat outside, the umbrella near a couple of lounge chairs was toppled over by the wind.

Sad, I thought. Good thing nobody is outside.

I thought about moving it. Nah, I’ll wait, surely the day staff will be coming in and doing a round of cleaning up of this place.

Plus, I had to prepare to speak to management.

A doorway to the levels below, chained off, as seen from the patio.

I kept checking the time wondering when breakfast would be out so that I could get some coffee. Nothing like a good complimentary cup of Java.

When I went back inside, I noted the coffee was out, but no cream basket like I had seen the day before (outside of breakfast hours).

I walked over to the front desk again, Dutch was still on shift.

“Hey, Dutch. You gonna put some cream out for the coffee or are you guys not offering that today?”

I fucking hate Dutch already.

He stared at me, pausing the briefest of moments with his serial killer eyes.

“I can get you cream,” he said with a slow nod.

“Thanks.”

I walked back to the coffee and waited for the basket.

“Just so you know, breakfast is 7-9” – I looked at my watch. We were either 12 minutes after 7AM or 12 minutes before. In either situation, I didn’t care.

“Thanks for the cream.”

Standard coffee carafe. We used these at OsgoodePD, too. Little small for the volume of guests, though.

I got my coffee and sat down outside again.

While outside I began compiling my mental list of The Getaway Hostel’s remarkable deficiencies, starting with the poor customer service and the incredibly easy access to the facility.

I went back inside to fill up my coffee and help myself to a complimentary bagel.

All in the breakfast service options weren’t terrible; bagels, waffles, 3 types of cereal. Lots of kids on sight. I joked around with one while we waited for his mom to finish using the toaster to toast his waffle; he had a toy gun and shot me several times. ‘I’m hit! You got me!‘ He laughed. I laughed. My quiet bunk mate from the night before joined in on the fun, he was hit too, so hard he nearly fell right over.

Commitment to the bit. I appreciate that type of humour.

I toasted my bagel and went back outside to my table.

A man and his young daughter sat down by the lounge chairs and he smoked a blunt.

Another younger man named Anthony sat down beside me, looking exhausted. He had just got in that night around 2AM, drove from Washington. Cool. He was in town for the festival so we talked about music and bands we liked, he recommended one playing later that day. We talked about traveling to other places; I told him about Iceland. I was starting to make a couple friends here and felt pretty good about that.

A tiny Spanish/similar speaking woman who worked for the hostel came outside and began wiping down tables and chairs. Anthony went inside with that look of similar understanding that perhaps we’d see each other at the festival later.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man and his daughter stand from their lounge chairs. The woman who was cleaning up was now trying to put the umbrella back in its rightful place, and the man held it up for her but it was clear he wasn’t interested in helping much further.

I looked at the young woman, struggling to life things off the ground.

Concrete blocks.

This woman is like 5 feet at best and 80 pounds soaking wet.

I got up.

“I’ll get it, don’t worry.”

I moved the blocks into place while the man held the umbrella. I tried to explain to the woman that what would really be useful here are a couple of sandbags, not these blocks. They were literally as though someone had taken a sledgehammer to some leftover concrete and thrown the blocks on top. Super safe, no wonder it fell over so easily.

My handywork. Free of charge. You’re welcome.

I had seen enough at The Getaway Hostel.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about all the women staying at this place and how people like Dutch were likely to speak to them, especially as so many of them would undoubtedly be drinking and doing casual party drugs and be in rough shape when they made their way back from the festival.

Earlier that morning a woman had asked me for some of my toothpaste in the bathroom, and I knew this was something many of us forget often. So I went over to CVS and spend $50USD on a couple items for the bathroom: tampons, pads, mouth wash, 2 toothpaste. I left a note in the bathroom with them, to the tune of ‘Forgot your toothpaste? No worries, I got you. If you can, pay it forward.” Two girls watched me do this.

I take pictures like this because people seldom believe my stories for reasons I can never understand.

I got another coffee and went back outside.

Shortly after Dutch came out with a cycling helmet and grabbed his bike from the bike rack. I watched him leave and say goodbye to another staff member. He avoided eye contact with me.

Finally.

I headed back to my room and grabbed my small blue notebook. I needed to get my thoughts on the page in case management was confrontational. What can I say, I’ve got a seventh sense for these things.

I sat down in the lobby and starting scribbling my notes, ripping the pages out one at a time and placing them in order.

I walked up to the front desk where another Spanish/similar speaking man I hadn’t seen the day before stood. He seemed to be in a great mood.

“Excuse me, is there a manager I could speak to?”

“You want to speak to a manager? Yeah, he’s right here.”

A man appeared from an office to the right. Stone cold. He looked at me, and I looked back.

“Hi, are you the manager?”

“Yes.”

White guy. Light coloured eyes. Possibly Ukranian or similar.

“I’d like to talk to you about something that happened last night.”

3 other male associates made their way to the front desk in front of me, making their presence known. A typical intimidation tactic. Which is funny cause like, I’m a 5’6 140lb Canadian girl on American soil, but like, okay, dudes, bring it on.

I began to tell him my side of the story.

“So last night around midnight I came out here to talk to the night manager, he said his name was Dutch.” I paused. No response. “Okay so, what happened was I was inquiring about a room upgrade and this guy is a total asshole –“.

“I’m going to stop you right there.”

Really?

“Are you Jaimee?”

“Yeah that’s me.”

Confident. Bold. Unwavering. Fuck this guy, too.

“Your language is unacceptable. I saw what you wrote on Twitter.”

Internally, I am pleased.

“We’re kicking you out of the hostel, your stay has been completely refunded and you have to leave now.”

“Wow, really? My language is unacceptable and you’re kicking me out for this?”

“Yes.”

“I actually wrote some notes for you as well *I flashed the deck*.”

“I don’t want to read them. Your stay has been refunded and you need to leave now.”

“I’d like a receipt showing the refund.” The tall Spanish-like man pressed a single button and a receipt printed. That was fast! Already cued up. Obviously Dutch had spoken to this man already, I must’ve rattled him.

“You’re gonna want to read them.” I placed the papers on the counter top. “I’ll take my time leaving, thanks,” I said, and took the receipt and went back to my room. The 4 men made their way to their offices (I assume).

I wasted no time. I grabbed all my things, annoyed as hell that I had to find a new place, but also proud of myself for sticking up to these idiots. There was a woman in her bunk beside me watching TV or something on her tablet. “Hey, just so you know I just got kicked out of this place because I told management there are a lot of issues here, so take care of yourself while you’re here okay?”

She smiled at me. Missing several teeth. She nodded, but didn’t respond, looking a little high. Not going to make any judgements here but let’s just say this is probably why Dutch made the comment he did to me when he saw which room I was in. I chose these cheap accommodations to make my stay in Chicago as reasonably priced as possible, but clearly that wasn’t going to work out for me.

I exited the room and walked directly across the hall to the now very busy common eating area.

“Excuse me everyone,” I began with a raised hand. They quieted down. “Just so you all know I just got kicked out of these hostel for pointing out the potential for security breaches in this building (in my notes I detailed the gate issue), and I just want you all to know that and to please take care of yourselves while you stay here. Thanks and have a good day!”.

A young man piped up from the table seemingly on behalf of his group, “thank you.”

I walked passed the front desk, waving to the tall Spanish man. “Thanks very much!”

He didn’t seem to realize it was me an responded cheerily, “thank you!”

“Enjoy your visit from the Chicago Police!”

He walked into the managers office as I exited the front door. Outside, I googled the nearest department.

Is this overkill? No fuck that, there are children here.

Three women exited the hostel. “Hey were you girls inside the kitchen just now?”

“No.”

“Okay so just so you know –” I repeated my comments.

“Thanks!”

I walked from The Getaway Hostel to the nearest police department in a flash, all the while humming and hawing to myself about whether this was something a tourist should even do, in a city like Chicago which obviously has some larger issues to deal with.

No fuck that, I just want to let them know about the gate issue more than anything else.

I pulled out my phone once more and reserved the 2nd booking listed on Travelocity. The Moxy. It had great reviews and was a reasonable price. This’ll do. Within mere minutes of leaving The Getaway I had new accommodation. Oh and hell yeah, it’s closer to Grant Park where Lollapalooza was being held! A bonus.

Not the police station, but this fire station is directly across from it.

I’ll spare you the details of my police station visit, but I explained briefly why I walked in there that day. The officer seemed to think there were no hostels in their district, which is to say perhaps I walked to a further one. Nonetheless, I felt better having spoken to her and after I told the story she said, “well I certainly wouldn’t stay there.” I explained I already had new accommodation and she seemed happy about that; or as happy as a Chicago Police Department officer could be about that, anyway. I thanked her for her time and apologized if it was in any way a waste of their time for me to do so; she said it wasn’t.

I walked to the Moxy, where check in was easy and seemless and I could tell I was in a much better place.

Passcards are required for the elevators here. Secure.

I turned the handle to my new suite.

From top bunk 3 in a room of 10 to a Queen suite by myself.
Northwest views from my giant window. Oh hell yeah.

Yeah, this place will do just fine.


So, how likely are you to recommend The Getaway Hostel to travellers, JJ? How many stars?

Not at all. Zero stars until it’s under new management.

Sincerely,

JJ, the Friendly Canadian.


The fun isn’t over yet!

Stay tuned for my upcoming blogs on Lollapalooza Day 1, the Lollapalooza After Party at Metro Chicago, and my follow-up email with Vincent from The Getaway Hostel!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave your questions or comments in the comment box.
Safe travels!

One thought on “The Getaway Hostel: Chicago, IL

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