Holidays in our neighborhood are a little lonely. Restaurants and shops are closed, streets are empty, and everyone is either away or tucked in at home. Whenever we spend a holiday at home, we vow to go away for the next one. So for Thanksgiving 2018, we decided to head west and trade abandoned downtown St. Paul for slightly less abandoned downtown Minneapolis.
It’s about the building
We stayed at the W Minneapolis in the Foshay Tower when the hotel first opened in 2008, and we remembered it being fun, so we decided to return for our Thanksgiving overnight. The highlight of the W is definitely the building itself. It’s fabulous. Finished in 1929 right before the stock market crash, the art deco building is an homage to the Washington Monument, and the opulence of the roaring twenties lives on today throughout the building. Because the tower’s footprint is relatively small, each floor houses only a handful of rooms, and the taper of the building means each floor is slightly smaller than the one below it. We opted for a corner room on the 20th floor, which was probably smaller than rooms on lower floors, but the views were terrific. From our bathroom window, we watched the sun set over the prairie.
The 27th floor of the hotel features the Prohibition Bar, a wonderful spot for cocktails and 360-degree views. We hoped to make a visit there before venturing off to find dinner, but Prohibition was closed. Even though unpredictable hours align with the speakeasy theme, we were disappointed not to find the bar open for hotel guests. Instead, we went down to the lobby bar, the Living Room, which was equally moody but not nearly as picturesque.
The aim is decadence
W hotels aim for a certain attitude: classy but also a little cheeky. At the Foshay — well, probably at most W properties — it can seem like the chain is trying a little too hard. All of the clever invitations to indulge in the W’s “unforgettable lifestyle experience” got tiresome, but we will admit that the design elements, heavy on the opulence theme, were a nice fit for the building. Particularly in the grey of winter, the colors were welcome, and the smallish rooms felt cozy and warm.
On quick glance, the room looked pristine, but after settling in, we noticed some signs that the hotel had passed its first decade: the inevitable scratches and dents that result from guests moving in and out each day. Seeing these can burst the bubble on the decadence fantasy; the luxury seems just a little past its sell-by date. We wondered whether this upkeep would be part of regular maintenance or whether the scratches and dents would continue to grow until the hotel takes on one of those multi-million dollar renovations.
Even with these critiques, the hotel is well worth a visit. You can get a feel for the treasure that is the Foshay Tower by stopping for a drink or even strolling through the lobby, but truly experiencing the structure can only happen through a stay in one of the rooms.
- The W Minneapolis
- Location: Downtown Minneapolis in the Foshay Tower
- Our Stay: 1 night, November 22, 2018
- Room: Cool Corner Guest Room
What we saw, what we ate
- Drinks by the fire in The Living Room (lobby bar)
- Dinner at Manny’s Steakhouse, a Minneapolis institution
- Coffee and pastries at Angel Food Bakery
- Shopping in the North Loop