Brew City is bursting with boutique hotels that express charm and character and appeal to all sorts of travelers, whether visiting Milwaukee for business or pleasure. Whether you crave a staycation or seek a memorable place to suggest to visiting friends and relatives, who might be in town for a wedding or other event, consider this your guide. Today’s boutique hotel packs a lot of offerings under one roof, including a cool bar and an artful restaurant, as well as common spaces to meet other travelers or simply hang out with a good book. Some even boast spas, coffee shops, outdoor patios and garden spaces--and glimpses of Milwaukee from a bird's-eye view without getting out of bed. Here are six must-check-into options. Bonus: these aren't all in downtown Milwaukee, which means you get to explore neighborhoods and live like a local, leading to a richer travel experience when in Wisconsin's largest city.
The Iron Horse Hotel
What: The Iron Horse Hotel
Where: Walker’s Point
Since its 2008 opening, this hotel has evolved into a popular hangout for locals, with its industrial-chic aesthetic. Smyth is the on-site restaurant while Branded is a bar flaunting mixology and glasses of wine and craft beer alike. Rooms are spacious and luxurious and, as the hotel appeals to Harley-Davidson riders, there is a hook that can hold a heavy leather jacket. (Don’t have a bike? The hotel can hook you up with a Harley rental.) Don’t hesitate to bring Fido as the hotel’s pet-friendly offerings include a special room-service menu and access to The Yard, an outdoor patio (also, most hotel staff are armed with dog treats).
The Brewhouse Inn & Suites
Where: downtown Milwaukee
Open since 2013, and in the historic Pabst Brewery complex, this 90-suite boutique hotel has served as a popular gathering spot for locals, particularly in its Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub where a fish fry is served each Friday. Be sure to roam the hotel’s second floor, where large copper urns that once were used to make beer are on display. Rooms boast Cream City-brick walls and lots of natural sunlight. Worth knowing is that the development is LEED-certified, meaning it has an eco-friendly bent.
What: Ambassador Hotel
Where: Near West Side of Milwaukee
Convenient to Marquette University (www.marquette.edu), and just a tad west of downtown Milwaukee, this Art Deco gem underwent a massive renovation a few years ago, refreshing its 1928 bones and revealing an architectural wonder. The spacious rooms feature a “pillow menu” and Aveda toiletries. On the ground floor is Envoy, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Envoy Lounge is a jazz bar with a martini menu at night and burgers during the day.
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Where: Menomonee Valley of Milwaukee
Open only since the summer of 2014, this hotel tower may be attached to the largest tribally owned casino, but it has a separate entrance to appease non-gamblers, who might like to know that shows and dining are worth seeking out in the casino if not the blackjack tables and slot machines. It also boasts a delicious ground-floor restaurant called Locavore (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus weekend brunch) that’s rooted in farm-to-table fare. Many of the guest rooms afford views of the downtown-Milwaukee skyline and are modernized with a wet bar, desk, and turquoise and red hues.
What: Hotel Metro
Perfectly suited for a romantic getaway – or simply a crash pad along Milwaukee’s Restaurant Row (Milwaukee Street) or near performing-arts centers – this historic Art Deco hotel has a ground-floor restaurant with windows that look out onto the street, as well as a rooftop garden. Suite-sized rooms feature Aveda bath products and free WiFi. No need to rent a car: instead, if it’s a warmer month, reserve the “London Cab,” which is an imported car from England that used to ride on London’s streets, or hop onto a beach-cruiser bicycle.
The Plaza Hotel
What: The Plaza Hotel
Where: East Side
Within the last three years, many of the rooms in this Art Deco hotel were renovated. Antique-French posters and black-and-white photos of Milwaukee hang on the walls in each room. A diner-style breakfast is served daily in the hotel’s Café at the Plaza, on the street level. What makes this different than many boutique hotels is that each room includes a kitchen with a full-size stove, refrigerator, microwave, and dishes.