Have a good night’s stay at a Madison hotel

Madison’s boutique hotel scene offers a few prime options for a close-to-home escape.
View from a room overlooking Lake Mendota
Photo courtesy of The Edgewater

While the coronavirus may have nixed international and some cross-state travel, Madison’s boutique hotel scene offers a few prime options for a close-to-home escape. Featuring retro digs, relaxing day spas, elegant dining atmospheres and the like, these lodging experiences provide much more than the average hotel stay.

Editor’s Note: Room prices will vary due to occupancy and COVID-19. All hotels reported increased cleaning procedures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Find each hotel’s safety precautions on their websites.

Time for a Spa Day

front of Edgewater Hotel covered in decorations

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Edgewater is one of the most well-known and iconic hotels in Madison, located on the south shore of Lake Mendota and close to the heart of downtown. Many of its rooms offer gorgeous views of the lake, and boaters can drive right up to The Boathouse, one of The Edgewater’s restaurants. Augie’s Tavern, The Statehouse and The Market also serve up delicious meals daily. After a $100 million remodel in 2014, this independently owned hotel offers both historic charm and modern accommodations with plenty of opportunities for fall and winter fun, including an ice-skating rink on the property. As the only hotel in Madison with a spa and salon, The Edgewater can further your Zen vacation experience with a massage or other spa services. The hotel, which reported that it’s following CDC and WHO guidelines, regularly cleans common spaces and requires guests and staff to wear facemasks.
Get a Room: The Edgewater’s room rates start at about $200.
On the Menu: The Edgewater’s Augie’s Burger is a good choice, and we recommend ordering one at brunch, because brunch feels like a staycation activity you definitely need to check off your list. The Statehouse’s weekend brunch offers a mix of breakfast and lunch options, and it’s not brunch unless you order multiple drinks, so order a bloody mary alongside your coffee … and maybe a mimosa, too.
Favorite Amenities: Some rooms include spacious bathrooms with clawfoot tubs and a TV to watch your favorite shows while taking a relaxing bath. Don’t forget to check out the large spa and wellness center to unwind and relax with a facial, massage, manicure or haircut.
Noteworthy Knowledge: This hotel has seen many distinguished guests, including the King himself, Elvis Presley. Other notable guests include singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper, Sir Elton John (who liked playing the hotel’s bar piano) and the 1990s Madison original rock band Garbage.

Inspired by History

Hotel Indigo's lobby with a giant paint can art piece

Photo by Patrick Stutz

Hotel Indigo, located in a building previously owned by Mautz Paint Co., clearly took inspiration from the property’s previous owners. When you step into the lobby, one of the first things you’ll see is a large Mautz Paint sign. Artistic touches honoring the building’s history and Wisconsin’s art scene extend throughout the hotel, in the rooms, in the restaurant and in the common spaces. Each floor is inspired by a local Wisconsinite, including the founder of Mautz Paint Co., Bernhard “Bernie” Mautz; artist Georgia O’Keeffe, a Sun Prairie native world-renowned for her landscapes and flower paintings; Carson Gulley, a former TV personality and head chef at the University of Wisconsin–Madison; American playwright and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thornton Wilder, a Madison native; Vel Phillips, the first Black woman to graduate from the UW–Madison Law School and the first Black woman to serve as Wisconsin secretary of state; and renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The art themes make this an ideal choice for those looking for creative inspiration. You can also rest easy knowing you can avoid contact at check-in and checkout.
Get a Room: The price of a hotel room at Hotel Indigo depends on its occupancy, but rates range from $139 to $159.
On the Menu: Check out the drink menu at Palette Bar & Grill for some colorful and creative cocktails with all-natural ingredients. Palette is owned by the same folks as Eno Vino.
Favorite Amenities: Alongside Palette’s stellar happy hour another perk at this hotel is several king, queen and executive suites with more space and particularly spacious bathrooms — including two sinks and a double-headed shower in the executive suite.
Noteworthy Knowledge: Hotel Indigo is pet-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your best friend at a kennel.

A Retro Summer Camp Getaway

bedroom at The Graduate Hotel with a colorful bedspread

Photo courtesy of Graduate Madison

Graduate Madison leaned in (waaay in) to a summer camp theme. Look up in the main lobby to admire a ceiling fixture made of canoes. Incorporating local references and retro designs, the artwork in this hotel is meant to reflect Madison’s history and the spirit of the great outdoors. To fully embrace the camping spirit, stay in the Camp Wandawega Suite that offers Super Nintendo and bunk beds. The rooftop bar and eatery, Camp Trippalindee, offers an amazing view of Madison’s downtown and Lake Mendota from the seventh floor. The entire property invokes an easy summer nostalgia, which you might be pining for as we enter another Wisconsin winter.

bunk beds in the Camp Wandawega Suite

Photo courtesy of Graduate Madison

Get a Room: Rooms at Graduate Madison start at about $100.
On the Menu: Graduate Madison offers boozy Capri Suns that will surely bring back memories from the days of summer camp and sunshine — especially if paired with a s’mores kit and a seat on the rooftop patio.
Favorite Amenities: Take advantage of complimentary bike rentals at the front desk if you want to take a spin around town.
Noteworthy Knowledge: The name “Trippalindee” comes from the 1986 movie “Back to School” in which self-made millionaire Thornton Melon decides to attend college alongside his son. The movie — filmed on the UW–Madison campus but set at the fictitious Grand Lakes University — ends with a climactic moment in which Melon (i.e. Dangerfield’s stunt double) pulls off the “Triple Lindy” dive, somersaulting into an open pool.

Couple’s Night Out

couple sitting on a couch in front of a fireplace

Courtesy of the Madison Concourse Hotel

The Madison Concourse Hotel offers an upscale experience right off the Square. For a classy stay, book a room in the Governor’s Club (the top three floors of the hotel) where you are treated to complimentary appetizers, cocktails and breakfast. The Club overlooks the Capitol and is a great spot for couples, says general manager Steve Zanoni. It also went through a certification process to be accredited by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, which enacts a cleaning industry standard for outbreak prevention, response and recovery.

empty space with chairs and tables looking at the Capitol Building

Governor’s Club (Courtesy of the Madison Concourse Hotel)

Get a Room: Rooms start at about $129 for premier-level accommodations and about $189 for rooms with access to the Governor’s Club.
On the Menu: With a talented chef and kitchen staff, The Madison Concourse Hotel offers seasonal menus and room service for those interested in staying in for the night. Due to the coronavirus, those staying in the Governor’s Club can also receive their complimentary food and beverages in their rooms or in the lounge. If you want to venture out of your room, but not travel far, you can also get a delicious meal at CIRC within the hotel.
Favorite Amenities: The Madison Concourse offers an indoor pool and hot tub, along with a lounge and fitness center. Rooms are available right next to the pool. There are also whirlpool suites in the Governor’s Club if you want to rejuvenate after a long day. The hotel is also located right downtown for easy holiday shopping.
Noteworthy Knowledge: The Madison Concourse has its own statue of Bucky Badger in its lobby — an art piece that was part of the 2018 Bucky on Parade public art project involving local artists who decorated 85 Bucky statues placed throughout Madison.

A Hygge Hideaway

Exterior of Hotel Ruby Marie at night

Photo by Larry Chua

Hotel Ruby Marie is the “oldest continuous running hotel building in Madison,” says managing innkeeper Joshua Paffel. Some of its rooms offer fireplaces to curl up next to, and some rooms include Jacuzzis, lake views, unique floor patterns and a distinct Victorian theme. Claiming to be “Madison’s best-kept secret,” this spot is close to the lake and a short walk from the Capitol. Built in 1873 during the railroad era, Hotel Ruby Marie is the place to stay if you’re looking for charming reminders of a bygone era. The hotel has increased its cleaning routine and won’t book guests in rooms that have been recently stayed in until at least 24 hours have passed.
Get a Room: Rates start at around $159.
On the Menu: Hotel Ruby Marie partners with its neighboring restaurants to offer a complimentary happy hour and breakfast. Guests can enjoy happy hour at Up North and breakfast at Lakeview Bakery & Deli or Come Back In. When dining out, you can stop at those three restaurants, or visit the German Essen Haus to split a boot’s worth of beer.
Favorite Amenities: During the holiday season, the hotel is decorated in Victorian fashion, with pine boughs, ribbon and gold balls — perfect for holiday photos. You can typically find live music at the restaurants throughout the week. There is also free parking for guests.
Noteworthy Knowledge: This hotel has been the subject of some spooky ghost stories, with guests mentioning that they’ve felt a presence during their stay.

Top-Notch Views

Couple sitting outdoors at a space looking at the capitol

Photo by Patrick Stutz

The AC Hotel Madison Downtown offers a stylish stay for guests looking for a date night or a weekend getaway. The hotel’s Skyview Terrace & Lounge, coupled with a firepit to keep guests warm, offers one of the best vantage points in the city. On the top floor is Eno Vino Downtown, which gives one equally as stunning views from the inside as out on the patio, especially at night. “Ladies, don’t forget to check out the views from the women’s bathroom on the 10th floor,” says operations manager Joellyn Stewart. The hotel, which is operated by Marriott, offers increased cleaning and physical distancing measures in addition to requiring masks.
Get a Room: Prices start at about $159 for a standard room and go up to about $399 for a suite.
On the Menu: Guests at the AC Hotel Madison Downtown can get Eno Vino delivered. Items include a cheese board, kebabs, flatbread pizza and plenty of to-go dishes for guests to enjoy in bed. The breakfast croissant dough is flown in from France and then baked in-house.
Favorite Amenities: AC Hotel Madison Downtown offers a fitness room with a view on the hotel’s ninth floor. Eno Vino has a fully stocked bar and amazing wine selection, but it’s also worth enjoying a couple drinks at the AC Lounge on the first floor just to hang out with lead bartender Craig Spaulding. Spaulding is a longtime Madison fixture who always has a good story to tell. Do yourself a favor and order a smoked Old-Fashioned to watch Spaulding make it to perfection each and every time.
Noteworthy Knowledge: The first floor features a floor-to-ceiling display with 1,248 cut crystal components backlit by about 7,000 individual LEDs. The multicolored installation weighs more than a ton.

A Stay on The Square

exterior of Park Hotel

Courtesy of Best Western Premier Park Hotel

As the only hotel right on Capitol Square, the Best Western Premier Park Hotel has a convenient location for those wanting to explore downtown’s nightlife. With more than 15 restaurants all within a five-minute walk, it’s great for those wanting to grab a bite at a local establishment. The Park Hotel has been open in the city since 1871, so you’ll find touches of local history — like elevator gates from the Wisconsin State Capitol building dating back to the early 1900s — all throughout the hotel during your stay. -Maija Inveiss

Same spot, new look

Sheraton Madison lobby

Courtesy of Sheraton Madison Hotel

Right off the Beltline on John Nolen Drive is the Sheraton Madison Hotel. You can get to the heart of downtown with a short, scenic bike ride down the Capital City Bike Trail from the hotel. In September, the Sheraton Madison Hotel announced it had completed a $15 million renovation of the entire hotel. While you’ll find beautifully designed rooms and suites with modern flourishes, the standout area is the lobby with cozy seating and unique murals featuring maps of Madison. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s worth checking out The HUB bar with cocktails, craft beers and a chef-inspired menu. -Maija Inveiss

Celia Young is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

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