Chilling in Style in Milwaukee: The Iron Horse Hotel

When I first wrote about Milwaukee’s superb boutique property, the Iron Horse Hotel, the paint hadn’t even dried yet and contractors were still scurrying around preparing for the soft opening. This past winter I had a chance to actually spend the night.

What I love about The Iron Horse Hotel is what I love about Milwaukee. A creative reinvention. Milwaukee kept many of its aging buildings and rehabbed entire neighborhoods, such as the Third Ward. The Iron Horse took an old warehouse and fashioned a chic boutique hotel with an interesting twist: it had a biker angle. While this is certainly a luxury stay for anyone, those coming in on motorcycles are going to find a lot of little details that accommodate them: tiled foyers in the rooms and heavy duty coat hooks for when you come in from the rain or dusty road with heavy leather. On-call maintenance, on-site bike rental, covered parking, bike shipping, and more.

Setting foot inside you see this place is different. The large American flag made out of colored denim; the bike parts in the fixtures; the shining Harley on display in the lobby. I checked in and as I waited for the elevator I noticed a dog dish was set out for an anticipated canine guest.

We drop our bags by the door and marvel at our corner room. Exposed brick walls, nice views out toward the Harley Davidson Museum just across an empty field, an alluring sepia photograph of a woman in period dress covers an entire wall. It’s all original artwork. In fact, there’s nothing at all common about the place; you definitely wake up and remember where you are, as the designers intended.

The bathroom is larger than my college dorm room, with a rain shower large enough to get a small party in there.

The Iron Horse is a reference both to the modern motorcycle and the iron horse of yesteryear, the train. Tracks run right past the property along the river. In the room next to a model train were two sets of ear plugs in case the rumble of a freight train disturbs you at night. (I didn’t need to use them.)

The Iron Horse bears a AAA four-diamond rating and has many other accolades to its name. Mixologists at Branded, the hotel bar, give the same attention to detail to the drinks. Smyth offers fine Wisconsin-focused cuisine, and Wine Spectator gave the property the Excellence nod for the wine list.

In season one can enjoy the open air of The Yard, which offers a view of a nearby suspension bridge – marvelous at night – and serves wood-fired oven pizzas along with your drinks. Listen to live blues on Sunday afternoons. One Twitter commenter from an evening in The Yard said it had a touch of Sons of Anarchy that night. This ain’t the stuffiness of the usual five-star pomp and circumstance, but style and luxury are never lacking.

But we were there with snow on the ground, so in the evening we headed to The Library where we curled up in front of the fireplace for a spell. We were in Milwaukee for business and thus couldn’t spend more time just hanging around the place, and that was the only regrettable thing about our visit.

The Iron Horse Hotel
1.888.543.4766 Front Desk
1.414.755.0084 Fax

Kevin Revolinski

Author, travel writer/photographer, world traveler. Writes about travel, hiking, camping, paddling, and craft beer.

2 thoughts on “Chilling in Style in Milwaukee: The Iron Horse Hotel

  • DAMN! Thats one well designed hotel. I like that dark and eerie feel to the hotel. Not many hotels like the Ironhorse exists around the world. Such a shame. This one breaks away from the simple design that hotels tend to go for these days. 🙂

    • It is quite special and gets the raves on TripAdvisor and such. Coming up in Milwaukee is Brewhouse Inn & Suites, the converted Pabst Brewery complete with the 6 copper brew kettles still in the atrium. Milwaukee has a surprising number of cool things going on. 🙂


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