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Milwaukee's lodging options feature quite a few boutique-style inns and hotels loaded with style and warm hospitality. Bonus: they won’t cost you more than $130 a night. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find rates less than $100. These charming stays aren’t in chains and—as they are run by owners passionate about their community—staying here means you’ll get free leads on what to see and do while in Wisconsin’s largest city.
The Muse Gallery Guesthouse
In recent years, the Bay View neighborhood—a ten-minute drive south of downtown Milwaukee along Lake Michigan—has morphed into an eclectic pocket of the city, home to coffee roasters, art galleries, vintage clothing and –furniture shops, and some of the city’s best restaurants. The Muse Gallery Guesthouse opened in 2015, offering just two rooms for rent off the main drag (South Kinnickinnic Avenue). If you like art, then this is your place as the guesthouse also hosts an art gallery with rotating shows.
With a boisterous Irish pub on the street level, hosting live music and serving pints of Guinness alongside Irish dishes like bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie, the upstairs rooms of the County Clare Inn are like entering another world. During 2016 the rooms were updated and renovated; some rooms have whirlpool tubs. As the inn is open for lunch and dinner—plus weekend brunch and lunch—you needn’t walk far for sustenance. From the inn’s Lower East Side location, you can easily walk in under 15 minutes to the Milwaukee Art Museum, Lake Michigan shoreline and Discovery World, as well as dozens of downtown-Milwaukee restaurants.
The Astor Hotel
An historic landmark since it opened in 1920, and a popular venue for weddings, The Astor Hotel has a grand entryway marked by marble and stained-glass. Its Lower East Side block is lined with a mix of churches, apartment buildings and businesses within former mansions—all with immaculate historical detail. There may be around 100 rooms in the hotel but the vibe is very intimate and charming, with a friendly check-in desk and—in some rooms—kitchenettes. Extended-stay rates are available, too.
The Plaza Hotel
Tucked into a lower East Side neighborhood that’s a seven-minute walk to the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as the eastern edge of downtown Milwaukee (where most of the city’s finest restaurants are), one draw at this 1920s-era hotel is its breakfast—a locals’ favorite. During the summer Café at the Plaza opens up its garden seating but the indoor vintage-era diner is just as charming. The hotel has preserved much of its Art Deco design but also renovated most of its rooms in 2012, adding updated linens, furnishings and cool art that’s a nod to Milwaukee (like large black-and-white framed photos of the city’s landmarks). Extended-stay rates are available, too.
The Knickerbocker on the Lake
Beyond the green awning is The Knickerbocker on the Lake, an 87-room historic hotel on the Lower East Side, with a salon and spa on the ground floor as well as The Knick Restaurant, a popular Sunday-brunch place for locals, Outdoor seating opens up right on East Juneau Avenue when the weather is warm. Most all attractions—from the Milwaukee Art Museum to Henry Maier Festival Park—are in walking distance of less than 10-15 minutes, as is downtown Milwaukee.
The Delafield Hotel
Fresh off its 10th anniversary, this 38-suite pet-friendly hotel in Delafield—25 miles west of downtown Milwaukee and convenient to I-94—just opened a new restaurant last year called I.D. This contemporary-cuisine restaurant open for nightly dinner and Sunday brunch, serving meaty entrées like pig head with pineapple jicama and organic chicken with 10-year-cheddar grits. Back at the room are soaking tubs, rainforest shower heads from Kohler, and 10-foot ceilings. Nearby hiking, skiing, biking and more are at Kettle Moraine State Forest’s Lapham Peak Unit.