Famous for its beer, breweries, bowling alleys, and baseball, Milwaukee sometimes loses out to more famously cool cities but it’s still a place with a trendy edge and plenty of hipster-friendly places too if you know where to look.
The Wisconsin city located on Lake Michigan’s western shore has a fun youthful vibe, award-winning restaurants, a thriving music and arts scene, incredible nightlife, and some historic gems too. Want to find somewhere to stay which is just as groovy as the city itself? Here is our list of the best cool and unusual hotels in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (in no particular order)…
1. Saint Kate, The Arts Hotel – an elegant art-filled hotel lively located in the creative East Town neighborhood
Perfectly located in the Juneau Town neighborhood is Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel in the heart of everything that is arty about Milwaukee. There’s a good choice of rooms and suites all furnished in a colorful, comfortable, happy-to-have-you style with plenty of nods to the local art culture without feeling like living in a gallery.
Even the smallest of rooms are tasteful without pretentiousness, featuring works from local artists, a roll of sketching paper, and, erm, a ukulele – just in case. On-site there’s a well-equipped fitness center for guests, a good pizza joint, an excellent restaurant serving diverse Midwest cuisine, and a couple of lovely bars; one for the crafty beer types and one for the champagne set. And, throughout the year, top-quality curated exhibitions of local art.
- To book, check prices or availability for Saint Kate, The Arts Hotel
2. Kinn Guesthouse – a unique and trendy boutique-style hotel perfect for Instagrammers
To the south of Milwaukee in the Bay View neighborhood is the small Kinn Guesthouse – Bay View aparthotel. There are just eight beautifully furnished and decorated, industrial-chic rooms featuring exposed-brick walls and colorful artwork, in a historic building resting in a hip residential neighborhood with plenty of choice for local restaurants and bars.
A lot of thought has been given to making the accommodation extra special and relaxing whilst retaining the essence of the building. There’s plenty of tech in the rooms and a well-stocked communal kitchen with a sitting area by a lovely open fire. A second Kinn Guesthouse with 31 rooms is set to open in Juneau Town in March 2022 – which should make it much easier to book their fabulous accommodation.
- To book, check prices or availability for Kinn Guesthouse
3. The Iron Horse Hotel – a hip and trendy hotel housed in a century-old former warehouse
Occupying a century-old former warehouse, this hip hotel is a 9-minute walk from the Harley-Davidson Museum in the Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee. Strongly designed Midwest-themed big spaces dominate; abounding in wood and leather to create a punchy, yet heartily comfortable environment, dressed with the occasional rugged aluminum or concrete artwork.
There’s a good American restaurant focussing on food cooked around the hearth, a classic beer and cocktail bar plus, in the summer months, excellent outdoor yard space for food and drink. A hotel big on character and atmosphere, close to everything you want to see in Downtown.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Iron Horse Hotel
4. Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, an IHG Hotel – an upscale modern boutique hotel located in the Historic Third Ward district
In the Historic Third Ward, bordered on one side by the Milwaukee River and on the other by Lake Michigan, sits the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, a rare modern building in this neighborhood. The rooms and public spaces are bright, big, and interesting; tastefully styled to feel comfortable, and managing to inject plenty of character into the interiors.
On the 9th floor is a truly delightful indoor/outdoor restaurant with some great views of the Milwaukee skyline. Outside, the Historic Third Ward is home to the major festivals and a plethora of galleries, art studios, boutiques, breweries, and eateries, or just a little walk along the rivers or lakeside where the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers confluence.
- To book, check prices or availability for Kimpton Journeyman Hotel
5. Cambria Hotel Milwaukee Downtown – a hip upscale design hotel offering a unique one-of-a-kind experience
Just set back from the banks of the Milwaukee River in Kilbourn Town is the Cambria Hotel. A good-looking building close to the highway and just across the river from Downtown, within walking distance of some of the city’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment; including the foodie-favorite Milwaukee Public Market and the scenic Milwaukee River.
It is comfortably, yet oddly, furnished in a simple Scandi meets crazy paint design which sort of works – until the paint splodges get stuck in your head. There’s a good bar and restaurant, a fitness center and, unusually for this city, a small indoor heated swimming pool.
- To book, check prices or availability for Cambria Hotel Milwaukee Downtown
6. Brewhouse Inn and Suites – an upscale boutique hotel set in a former Milwaukee Pabst brewery which is perfect for Millenials and Gen Zs
If there is one thing Milwaukee is famous for, it’s beer. The Brewhouse Inn & Suites, housed in the original Pabst Brewery, takes full advantage of the great brewing traditions of Kilbourn Town. The hotel showcases many of the brewery’s original features, such as the massive iconic copper brewing kettles and a stained-glass window of King Gambrinus (often called the patron saint of beer).
There are studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites, all spacious with soaring ceilings, large steel beams, exposed Milwaukee Cream City brick walls and enormous windows. Each suite has a fully equipped kitchen with in-room tables and headboards made from repurposed from wood salvaged during renovations. They are beautifully furnished in comfortable industrial chic. The hotel also has an outdoor terrace, exercise room, business center, and gift shop. To complement everything there’s a remarkable bar and restaurant serving classic Wisconsin pub food and a huge range of beverages – you really must try a local craft beer.
- To book, check prices or availability for Brewhouse Inn and Suites – Westown
7. Hotel Metro, Autograph Collection – a modern all-suite hotel housed in an art deco-inspired building located in the art and entertainment district
A slightly upmarket hotel in Juneau Town with a penchant for grey and gold amid the faintest echoes of art deco. The guest rooms are big and bold – carrying the glitzy décor with ease – the public spaces are more intimate. The Hotel Metro, Autograph Collection is centrally located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee.
It’s an easy walk to multiple city attractions including the Public Market, Fiserv Forum, Lake Michigan, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. There’s a decent restaurant and bar on-site, a fitness center, and some good city views of Downtown from the rooftop. But, in this location, it’s all about getting out and about to sample what’s on the doorstep.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Metro, Autograph Collection
8. Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfast – unique accommodation with a quirky historic theme
Set amidst the wide boulevards of the Concordia neighborhood of Milwaukee is this delightful Victorian red, gothic villa known as the Schuster Mansion. Built in 1891 by a tobacco merchant it now offers refined accommodation, with seven rooms or suites, all enveloped in quirky chic – think paisley, lace doilies, Chinese rugs, and antiques – there is barely an inch left untouched by Victoriana.
The Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfast is way more than just overnight or weekend boarding; it’s the entire experience of living a little slice of history from the charming ornate bedrooms to delightful high tea in the manicured rose garden.
- To book, check prices or availability for Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfast
9. The Pfister Hotel – a chic and elegant upscale Victorian hotel which dates from 1893
Located in Juneau Town, close to the Historic Third Ward is The Pfister Hotel (yes, that’s how it’s pronounced). Originally constructed in 1893, it’s been a Milwaukee icon ever since. The hotel was extended in the 1960s with the addition of a 13-story tower, still known as the “new rooms”, but thankfully retained the original, elegant Victorian features of the old part of the building.
The Pfister Hotel is home to an enormous collection of Victorian art displayed throughout and available for a fascinating tour from the artist in residence. Guest rooms are spacious and elegant and many of the public areas are simply breath-taking in their opulence with marble and gold leaf in abundance. If you do one thing here: visit the swimming pool high up in the tower with panoramic views of Milwaukee.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Pfister Hotel
10. Aloft Milwaukee Downtown – a fun, funky and very Instagrammable hotel which features a cool featuring loft-inspired design
Next to the Milwaukee River in Kilbourn Town (also known as Westown) is the rather lovely Aloft Hotel, just a 5-minute walk from the BMO Harris Bradley Center sports arena and close to the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, one of the few hotels to be sited on the Riverwalk itself.
The Aloft Milwaukee Downtown is a funky, relaxed hotel with simple fun interiors and clever, comfortable rooms. There is a good lounge and bar for socializing, a spacious outdoor yard for when the weather permits, and a good small gym and pool. On-site dining is just snacks and drinks, but that’s not important as there are 100s of bars and restaurants in the surrounding streets with a huge choice from Milwaukee’s famous diverse cuisine.
- To book, check prices or availability for Aloft Milwaukee Downtown
11. Kasa Milwaukee Westown – offers stylishly-designed, managed apartments and rooms for short or long-term stays
Kasa Milwaukee in Westown (also known as Kilbourn Town) is one of the new aparthotels appearing everywhere. These are comfortable, self-contained one- or two-bedroom apartments with small kitchens and sitting areas. There’s also communal space, offering a games room, rooftop lounge with grill stations, and a small fitness center.
These apartments are in one of the hottest neighborhoods in Milwaukee. In this buzzy location, you’re close to the old Pabst Brewery building, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Bucks’ new arena. If you don’t want all the ceremonies of a staffed hotel and are happy to look after yourself, this is an excellent location to explore the famous cuisines and festivals of this city.
- To book, check prices or availability for Kasa Milwaukee Westown
12. The Muse Gallery Guesthouse, Bay View – a quaint Milwaukee guesthouse set in a Victorian-era home from 1889
Set in the charming Bay View neighborhood, just south of the city center, is the delightful Victorian weatherboarded The Muse Gallery Guesthouse. A simple, comfortable lodging that complements this period house, rather than trying to replicate the past. It is filled with a rotating exhibition of a wide variety of local art, guaranteed to enhance your visit, feed your spirit and inspire your own creativity.
All exhibited art is for sale. There are just 3 guest rooms and one suite all tastefully furnished with a handful of period features and modern conveniences.
Shared spaces are equally well maintained with a fully equipped community guest kitchen, iron/ironing board, complimentary snacks and beverages including a wine and cheese welcome hour, a gift shop featuring art from local artists, and bicycles with locks and helmets to explore the quiet streets and parks of Bay View.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Muse Gallery Guesthouse
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Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always been a sucker for an adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued his taste for seeking out new cultures. So much in fact he now travels the world as a trading digital nomad, exploring everything from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, street food, playing carrom, and fine wine and knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations.