Trendy, stylish, and sophisticated — boutique hotels contain beautiful design details and focal points, from art installations to oversized chandeliers to towering fireplaces. They also tend to possess an indie spirit and include thoughtful amenities to help acquaint you with the local scene or connect you to the historical significance of the property or region.
While the definition of a boutique hotel can vary by traveler style, we can all agree that Minnesota is stacked with a surprisingly deep selection of properties. Here's a starter guide to finding your ideal urban adventure or Northwoods escape in Minnesota.
Located in the bustling North Loop neighborhood adjacent to downtown Minneapolis, this property is an ideal home base for exploring the city’s trendiest bars, restaurants, and retail. Once known as the city’s warehouse district, many of the former industrial spaces have been reimagined, including the Hewing Hotel’s fully renovated, century-old brick-and-timber farm implement warehouse. Scandinavian decor throughout the building invokes the region’s strong Nordic heritage, and the onsite bar and restaurant Tullibee features locally grown and sourced food to give you a sense of Minnesota’s culinary scene. After a long day of exploring the city, head up to the rooftop to grab a drink at the bar, schvitz in the sauna or take in the view of downtown from the outdoor hot tub.
Located on the banks of the St. Croix in the sought-after river town of Stillwater, Lora is ideally situated for food and drink enthusiasts or adventurers looking for an afternoon by the river. Recognized as equal parts eco and pet-friendly hotel by travelers, guests receive a courtesy bar credit when opting out of housekeeping services and pets are greeted with pet beds, bowls, and a tasty treat. At Lora, you’ll find yourself surrounded by historical significance, in fact The Joseph Wolf Brewery was built into the bluffs where the Lora now stands back in 1868, which was connected to a series of caves used to store beer and source spring water.
A lake inspired upscale boutique offering, this property lies on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in downtown Wayzata, just 15 miles from Minneapolis. Surrounded by fine dining, fashionable shopping, and outdoor recreation to boot, this location has strong urban energy despite being technically in a suburban neighborhood. A Nordic-inspired spa greets guests, along with the ninetwentyfive restaurant that infuses Midwestern heritage and coastal flavors into high-end dishes.
A former convent and renowned music and arts conservatory, this historic property bills itself for “always having had a higher calling”. Located in downtown St. Paul, next door to the historic Fitzgerald Theater, this national historic landmark has some rooms with direct line views of the Capitol building. Seven different room categories range from more basic to well-appointed, while four suite rooms are blessed with amenities beyond the norm from in-room chandeliers to vaulted ceilings.
This property is not only convenient to many attractions such as the Galleria, Mall of America, and MSP airport, but also is a very special hotel that celebrates the astonishing abilities that young adults with autism possess. The hotel operates with these young autistic adults as staff, turning their abilities into employment opportunities where this deserving population gets to share something they are passionate about with others while earning a living wage, working on their social skills, and build a sense of accomplishment. Offering boutique-style guest rooms, concierges, artists in residence and historians, it is a unique experience not to be missed.
Possessing a prime downtown Minneapolis location that is close to everything. Walking distance to North Loop, Mill District, Mississippi River, and the city’s finest arts and culture. All the building’s original marble has been preserved with contemporary lighting and décor accenting it to create a terrific ambiance that is carried from the lobby and living room style common areas to Spyhouse coffee lounge. Originally opened in 1906 as Midland Bank, the property still has old bank vaults littered throughout in homage to its roots — watchful guests will discover all nine vaults if they keep their eyes peeled.
At over 200 rooms, this is not the typical quaint boutique property; but it does tower over your standard run-of-the-mill downtown hotel experience with an art deco aviation theme carried throughout guest rooms, lobby, and even restaurants. Built in the 1920s, the property is infused with character, including its signature atrium space with glass roof that retracts in the summertime.
Built in 1908, this hotel has been at the doorstep of the legendary Orpheum Theatre since their opening act. Artists frequently exhibit their work on property, which is admired by unexpecting guests. A real showstopper is a graffiti art exhibit that unexpecting guests discover in one of the side staircases.
Influenced by Ranier’s historical significance during the Prohibition era, this boutique hotel is a modern-day throwback. The Cantilever offers a contemporary take on a bygone era when trains with concealed casks of Canadian whiskey rolled through the region. The property features a cocktail room that highlights craft, Minnesota-made spirits, and a rooftop sauna. But the main event is most definitely the on-site distillery, which is the perfect spot to unwind following a day of exploration. This area has long been a tourist destination thanks to its proximity to Voyageurs National Park, but Cantilever is making this far-flung destination trendy.
Positioned right in the heart of Grand Marais, next to Lake Superior, this upscale boutique has an unassuming entrance with limited signage, resembling a speakeasy type of arrival. The property operates as a hybrid blend of a peer-to-peer vacation rental with the finishes and amenities of a full-service boutique hotel. At just six rooms, it is an intimate experience, but with some big perks such as 1,500 sq ft of rooftop decks and 1,000 ft of outdoor courtyard space, making it a social distancer’s paradise. The “Dragon Lounge” faces a towering outdoor fireplace with a brick pizza oven as the perfect accompaniment to a memorable gathering.
It’s hard to imagine a list of Minnesota boutique hotels without including Fitger’s Inn. It’s a quintessential combination of proximity to downtown attractions, historic significance, and luxurious accommodations. What really seals the deal is the on-property Fitger’s Brewhouse and adjacent shores of Lake Superior. In recent years, Minnesota has absolutely exploded into a craft brewing mecca with nearly 200 breweries to choose from, but once upon a time Fitger’s was among the breweries on the ground floor of pioneering this movement, over a century ahead of the craft beverage boom. In selecting your accommodations, the Lakeside views are worth the premium as the vastness of Lake Superior is something to behold in-person.
Set among majestic bluffs in the downtown district of Red Wing, this property is a historical gem with 67 rooms, each with their own story to tell. Operating continuously as a hotel since 1875, the St. James Hotel has incredibly distinctive character and some of the most sought-after food & beverage spots in town. The Ironworks Flat room is a recommendable option for those seeking additional space — it features its own private entrance, a cozy fireplace, and up-close views of the mighty Mississippi River. Close to many attractions including the Red Wing Shoes Museum, home to the world’s largest boot, where you can stop by and take a selfie with a size 638 ½ that stands at over 20 feet tall.
A converted feed mill in the shadows of Bluff Country in Lanesboro, this property offers rooms that are rich in amenities and superb accessibility to biking on the Root River State Trail. This property is five minutes from everything including fishing, paddling, art galleries, and the Commonweal Theatre. Each of the rooms are themed with décor to reflect the unique history of the buildings and charm of Lanesboro. The combination of affordability, nearby restaurants, plus cultural and recreation opportunities make this the perfect location for a one-week workcation, where your day begins answering emails over a strong coffee and ends with a brisk, refreshing pedal.
This property offers ride-in, ride-out access to Cuyuna’s mountain bike trail system. Featuring only eight guest rooms, Crosby Lofts is on the top floor of a pristinely restored 120-year-old brick building. Nearby dining options include wood-fired pizza, a farm-to-fork kitchen, artisan ice cream, a brewery, and of course a bike shop where a turn-up or rentals can be sought. In fact, once you arrive you probably won’t need your car to get you anywhere in the quaint town of Crosby. The region itself is experiencing the best kind of renaissance in the form of natural resources management that is turning the area’s open-pit taconite mines into some of the most one-of-a-kind mountain bike terrain you’ll ever encounter.
John Schultz is an avid Minnesota traveler and outdoor enthusiast. He recently survived a half marathon at Glacier National Park and picked up snowshoeing at Lake Carlos State Park. His tourism industry experience spans airlines, ad agencies, a multinational hotel chain, and destination marketing. John can usually be found hovering around the coffee maker or enjoying a quiet moment on the dock of the nearest lake.
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