Check in early and stay late during OnMilwaukee's "Hotel Week" sponsored by VISIT Milwaukee. These 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.)
The place you stay when you visit a city can set the tone for your entire trip.
In my case, I’m typically on the lookout for a hotel that’s within walking distance of attractions I’m excited to visit, and it’s a big bonus if the area also includes multiple interesting options for breakfast lunch and dinner. Ideally, the hotel itself is well-appointed with just enough creature comforts to make me feel at home.
Such is the case at the Kimpton Journeyman, 310 E. Chicago St., where the location is just as compelling as the hotel itself.
If there’s one reason to love the Journeyman, it’s for its location. Smack dab in the heart of the Historic Third Ward, there are few better places for visitors who are looking to explore the city on foot (or locals who would like to rediscover their city anew, as I did on my recent stay).
The neighborhood boasts more than 20 art galleries and studios, countless boutiques, two microbreweries and plenty of restaurants, along with the Milwaukee Public Market, a one-stop-shop for souvenirs, cheese tasting or simply grazing on a variety of Milwaukee-made treats.
During warm weather, a jaunt along the nearby Riverwalk is a great way to journey into the heart of Downtown while enjoying the view of the Milwaukee River. And, during Milwaukee’s six-month festival season, a stay at the Journeyman is a no-brainer, as it’s within easy walking distance of the Henry Maier Festival Park.
So much of the area is easily explored by foot; but if you’d like to journey farther, request a bike from the front desk, who will equip you with a Civia cycle from local gear and repair shop Coast In Bikes, 838 S. 1st St., along with a bike map that provides you with directions to local attractions and a choice of scenic drives. There are also custom Journeyman leather backpacks available to take on your urban exploring expeditions.
Need directions? Recommendations? The staff at the Kimpton are extremely knowledgeable and more than happy to help you with just about anything you can imagine.
Comfortable beds and soaker tubs
There are numerous choices for rooms at the Journeyman, including suites that offer a sitting area that’s separated from sleeping quarters; but even standard king accommodations offer comfortable, well-appointed surroundings, comfortable beds with luxurious bedding and myriad little touches that remind you that you’re staying in Milwaukee.
Upon checking in, I found my room to be cozy and welcoming. Like most rooms in the hotel, walls were decorated with retro Summerfest posters and Milwaukee prints that hearkened back to an era when Milwaukee was a center for both beer and grain production.
Pet lovers will be delighted to know that the Journeyman is pet-friendly. And that's evidenced by the presence of ceramic pups with playful names in every room.
Every room also contains a Journeyman signature: a lacquered Bombay-style chest of drawers painted with alphanumeric characters that correspond with the departure and arrival numbers for historic trains that once arrived in and departed from the Cream City.
The room wasn’t particularly cavernous; however, there was just enough space to spread out a bit, a chair for lounging and a desk where I could get some work done. There was even a yoga mat in the closet, a nice option for guests (like me) who prefer the serenity of an in-room workout to the hubbub of the onsite fitness center. Even the bathroom was well appointed, complete with a stand-up shower and integrated oversized soaking tub, of which I availed myself for a bit of relaxation before slipping into bed.
If you're feeling social, or just need to get out of your room for a while, there are also plenty of areas at the hotel to chill out and relax, including the spaces adjoining the lobby, which offer comfortable seating for reading, tables for working and even a pool table for guests' enjoyment.
Room decor isn’t the only place you’ll find traces of the Cream City at the Journeyman. A lounge area adjacent to the lobby, appropriately called "The Living Room" contains a small display of both finished and unfinished pieces from students at MIAD, the art school located just blocks from the hotel.
Meanwhile, botanical details are provided by local florist Deb Fowler, owner of The Flower Lady in Wauwatosa, who also handles holiday decor for the hotel. And you’ll have ample time to check out both if you partake in the hotel’s complimentary coffee from 6 to 9 a.m. daily, or their "wine hour," which takes place between 5 and 6 p.m.
During the happy hour, you can mingle with other guests while enjoying your choice of wine or local beer from Third Space Brewing Company and wood-fired flatbreads made by the hotel’s restaurant Tre Rivali. If you look closely, you’ll notice the kegerator used for beer service; it was built by local artisan Andy Shakledy, who also designed the bar and tables at Third Space Brewing Company.
Meanwhile, a trip to the hotel’s cafe offers the opportunity to taste beverages from two of the city’s most popular coffee and tea brands, Colectivo and Rishi Tea (coffee from Seattle’s Caffè Vita is also served in the restaurant). You can enjoy breakfast or pick up a quick pastry or yogurt parfait. There are also house-made treats (including granola, trail mix, hot cocoa mix and dog treats) to take home or give as gifts.
Mediterranean eats and rooftop drinks
The Historic Third Ward is replete with restaurants – from chic breakfast spots like Sweet Diner, charming cafes like Bavette La Boucherie, and ethnic restaurants including Dandan (contemporary Chinese American), Onesto (Italian) – and the Milwaukee Public Market offers a virtual buffet of choices, from Mexican and Thai food to vegan fare, seafood and a relaxing wine bar.
However, you’d be remiss if you didn’t pay a visit to Journeyman's own venues, including The Outsider bar and Tre Rivali restaurant, which boasts the skill of Executive Chef Heather Terhune.
You’ll find a bounty of options from hummus and wood-roasted mussels to fresh flavored tomato and cucumber fattoush salad with roasted chicken, olives, feta and lemon yogurt sauce ($17) and housemade pastas like rich carbonara with crispy pork belly salt cured egg yolk and pecorino romano ($18).
Dishes are simultaneously comforting and bright. And they’re of a quality that you’re likely to forget you’re in a hotel restaurant altogether.
You’ll find similar magic at The Outsider, a venue that attracts at least as many locals as it does hotel guests. Located on the hotel’s 9th floor, the lush rooftop patio offers gorgeous views of the city during the summer months and cozy seating, complete with fire-pits and lap blankets during the fall and winter.
The bar offers nicely curated wine, spirits and beer lists; but don’t miss the seasonal craft cocktails created under direction of lead bartender Gen Longoria. Pair your drinks with nibbles include options like "Buffalo-style" oyster mushrooms served with blue cheese dressing ($9), celery and carrots or Maryland crab dip served with housemade saltines and house pickles ($14).
It’s the perfect place to begin your evening before heading off to dinner, or to cap it all off before returning to your room for a luxurious soak in the tub.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.