Check in early and stay late during OnMilwaukee's "Hotel Week" sponsored by VISIT Milwaukee. The next seven days will be packed with stories about historic area hotels, reviews, history, food and drink, staycations and more. Find out what it's like to be a tourist in this town. (Chocolate on your pillow not included.)
Sometimes, in a landscape that's slowly filling with brand new hotels like Potawatomi and The Brewhouse Inn – along with the forthcoming Kimpton and a micro-hotel in Bay View – it’s easy to forget the true gems we have here in Milwaukee. Such is the case for Hotel Metro, a spot I was lucky enough to stay during a recent "staycation."
This art deco gem, which I’d categorize as a cross between a boutique hotel and a small-scale luxury hotel, is probably best known for its dedication to the environment. But, there are other elements that make this hotel a spot to consider when staying Downtown.
They say it’s everything, and for Hotel Metro, that might be true. Located just three blocks from Milwaukee’s beautiful Riverwalk, which weaves through Downtown and the city’s fashionable Third Ward, the hotel is situated perfectly for the traveler who wants to experience the hustle and bustle of the Cream City. A short walk will get you to the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Pabst or Riverside Theaters, or the Third Ward, where boutique shopping is at the fore.
One thing there’s plenty of at Hotel Metro is space. Rooms (there are 63) range in size between 450 and 720 square feet, and each sports both living space and private sleeping area. Our room, a second floor deluxe king, offered plenty of room for lounging with an after-dinner bottle of wine.
While certain elements of the space showed signs of needing a refresh (slightly worn spots in the carpeting, chipped paint and other tell-tale signs didn’t escape our glance), modern design combined with a bit of retro flair still gave the room a clean, fun look.
Our bathroom was spacious, featuring a neo-angle glass shower and a large soaking tub. Certain elements, including the grout in the ceramic tile flooring and the baseboards, showed a good amount of wear and tear; however, it was clean and otherwise well kept.
Conveniences at Metro include free Wi-Fi, a fitness center and a mini bar stocked with a variety of major label spirits, local brews (including Miller and New Glarus) and local (albeit expensive) snacks like Indulgence chocolate, Kerr’s malted milk balls, Knight’s popcorn and Nutman mixes.
Shuttle service in the hotel’s London cab is available for the three-mile radius surrounding the hotel (April through November). And complimentary bikes are available for guests who wish to explore the city without increasing their carbon footprint.
An enclosed roof top space added to the hotel in 2006 houses a 700-square foot mini spa with a large saltwater hot tub and a shoulder-massaging waterfall, sauna, yoga room and exercise areas.
If you’re visiting during the warmer months, check out the rooftop oasis at Zen on 7, the appropriately named seventh-floor bar and patio. Enjoy the tranquil sounds of the waterfall, or grab a seat by the fireplace on cooler nights. During the summer, the rooftop space is open to the public Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If there’s a strength of Hotel Metro in terms of location, it’s the hotel’s proximity to great dining. But, you shouldn’t neglect the convenience of the hotel’s lounge and dining space.
During our stay, we grabbed a quick bite during happy hour (3 to 7 p.m.) in the METRO lounge, where we enjoyed $4 classic martinis and a generous serving of artichoke spinach dip.
We also enjoyed a morning breakfast in the restaurant. The hang-over breakfast sandwich, featuring fresh avocado, was a fair way to start the day. We were a bit disappointed that the eggs in our Benedict came out over-poached – a flub we mentioned to our server – but otherwise enjoyed the low key vibe in the bright, comfortable dining room.
Of course, if you’re looking to venture out, you needn’t do more than stroll down Milwaukee Street to find a wide variety of eateries, including Zarletti (Italian), Carnevor (steak) and Cubanitas (Cuban). A slight detour down Wisconsin Avenue will take you directly to Amilinda, which serves up Spanish and Portuguese inspired fare in a cozy, welcoming environment. And if you cut up a block on Mason Street – where you'll find Mason Street Grill (in The Pfister Hotel next door) – and turn left on Jefferson Street, you’ll find late night hot spots like Plum Lounge (which also has a great small plates menu).
Our deluxe king suite was $179 during a mid-week stay, an average price for Downtown digs.
The Bottom Line
Don’t overlook Hotel Metro if you’re looking for a centrally located spot to hang your hat for a few days. It’s decently appointed and well located with a funky retro vibe and eco-friendly amenities.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.