WICKER PARK — In its first month, a new hostel-hotel hybrid in Wicker Park has attracted "lots of Canadians," European travelers, and out-of-town medical students interviewing for their residencies.
Holiday Jones opened quietly in late September at 1659 W. Division St. in a former single-room-occupancy hotel and offers communal rooms for as little as $20 per night.
Just west of Ashland and Division Street, the century-old building appeals to budget travelers like Petru and Irina Sandu of Romania, who were retrieving their bags around 4 p.m. Sunday.
The couple was headed to Iowa City, where Petru Sandu, 28, is studying public health at the University of Iowa.
Irina Sandu had flown in from Romania to meet up with her husband for the weekend, and both were visiting Chicago for the first time, she said.
The Sandus said they paid $100 for two nights for a room with three beds. (A friend traveled with Irina Sandu from Romania.)
"It's hard to find a hostel room with three beds," Irina Sandu said.
From 1980 until closing last November, the building on the southeast corner of Division and Paulina streets was an SRO operated by a liquor store owner, Mike Liacopoulos, who sold his property for $1.6 million to Robert Baum and Michael Downing last December, Crain's reported.
Leading a tour of the building Sunday, front desk clerk Heather Massie said "a lot of Canadians" have stayed at the hostel in its first month, with an average stay being about three days. Several residents interviewing for jobs at hospitals have stayed at Holiday Jones too, with most guests being in their 20s, Massie said.
Holiday Jones offers 32 rooms. There are shared dorms where guests sleep in the same room with strangers and share a bathroom at the end of the hall; private rooms with shared bathrooms, and private rooms with private bathrooms.
There are three bathrooms per floor, and based on current rates on the Holiday Jones website for Oct. 28 through Nov. 10., the cost of rooms range from $20 to $147 per night.
Downing and Baum, who spent about five months renovating the building, plan to bring a cafe to the first floor in the near future, according to the Holiday Jones blog.
Old steamer trunks and speakers are embedded into the front desk, while freshly painted blue and yellow doors on the hostel's upper levels lead to 125-square-foot rooms where bunk beds are covered with preppy plaid bedspreads.
The hostel's basement offers a shared kitchen, television, foosball table and laundry machines. The building offers free Wi-Fi to guests.
Baum previously likened renting at Holiday Jones to being "like a social network in person" that will give renters an opportunity to communicate and network with each other.
The name, Holiday Jones, comes from the mix of people staying there on vacation or holiday and a homey-sounding family name, Baum said.
But Holiday Jones doesn't welcome everyone. Anyone with a Chicago ZIP code beginning in 606 is prohibited from staying at Holiday Jones in most cases.
Holiday Jones, 1659 W. Division St. Ph: 312-804-3335.