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Pfister Hotel Reviews

Pfister luxury hotel

Image via Flickr

The Pfister Hotel is a grand dame of historical elegance in downtown Milwaukee. Presidents have dined here. There is a lobby piano player. Truly, they do not make hotels like this anymore. Walking in the lobby is a stunning experience. The hotel is committed to the arts and holds an Artist-in-Residence program as a way for hotel guests to be a part of the art creation process.
 
The Pfister Hotel nods to our nation’s elegant past. We have compared more modern picks that nod to Milwaukee’s brewing past and present. Whether you prefer a touch of old-school or you prefer redone factory interiors, there is a hotel in Milwaukee for you.

What Is The Pfister Hotel?

The Pfister Hotel is a historic hotel in downtown Milwaukee dating back to 1893. It was dubbed “The Grand Hotel of the West” when it opened. 2018 is its 125th anniversary. It is decorated in a Romanesque Revival style. The hotel underwent an upgrade in the 1960s and an additional guest house was added. At the time, its fireproofing and individual thermostats in every room were state-of-the-art.

The Pfister Hotel can boast that it houses the largest collection of Victorian Art in the world, collected by its original owners Guido and Charles Pfister.

Guests at the Pfister Hotel experience timeless art and elegance with a touch of “Salve”—which is the hotel’s guiding philosophy to its utmost standard of hospitality.

The Pfister Hotel is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of its Historic Hotels of America. It is also a AAA Four Diamond Hotel. You are in good company at the Pfister Hotel with former Presidents such as McKinley having stayed here. The Pfister Hotel is also a top choice for weddings.

The Pfister Hotel Specs

Image via Flickr

Guests can enjoy much more than just a comfortable place to sleep at the Pfister Hotel. Guests can peruse the largest Victorian Art collection of any hotel in the world. Room service is 24 hours. The 23rd floor Pfister Club Lounge is also 24 hours and features incredible views. Rooms feature both lake and city views. The Pfister Concierge is available by text to respond to issues at any time of the day. There is even a Pfister Narrator who talks with guests to hear their stories and writes about these conversations on the Pfister blog.

Guests can choose from 307 guest rooms and 82 suites with sitting rooms and wet bars. Guests can stay in the historical part of the hotel where they can enjoy an elegant experience dating back to 1893, or the modernized area of the hotel. There are a pool and gym in the hotel.

Guests especially rave about this hotel during the holiday season when it is decorated to the nines.

Pricing

Rooms start at $150 per night if you book in advance. These non-refundable rooms are cheaper than refundable rooms. Rooms with access to the 23rd floor Club Lounge start at $224 per night.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

  • Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
  • The Iron Horse Hotel
  • The Brewhouse Inn & Suites

Pfister Hotel

Rooms start at $150 per night if you book in advance. Rooms with access to the 23rd floor Club Lounge start at $224 per night.

Beautiful lobby, well-appointed rooms, fitness center and pool, spa, valet parking, plus a club lounge and its own art collection give this hotel 5 stars for facilities.

Guests can choose from 24-hour in-room dining, the Blu bar and lounge, the Lobby Lounge, The Rouge for Sunday brunch, the Cafe at Pfister, and the Mason Street Grill. There are options to suit every occasion.

Guests can choose from 24-hour in-room dining, the Blu bar and lounge, the Lobby Lounge, The Rouge for Sunday brunch, the Cafe at Pfister, and the Mason Street Grill. There are options to suit every occasion.

The Pfister Hotel has a prime downtown location just three blocks away from Lake Michigan. The Milwaukee Art Museum is also very close by. Milwaukee loves festivals. You may be lucky enough to come in time for Summerfest, German Fest, Irishfest, or Indian Fest. Top performance art venues and nightlife destinations are also close by. Try a local beer at one of the city’s many beer halls or visit an upscale cocktail bar.

PROS

  • Historical charm and beauty
  • Prime downtown location
  • Club Lounge is stunning and has a hot breakfast
  • Lobby piano player
  • Spa products and bathrobes in the bathrooms
  • You feel you are part of history by staying here

CONS

  • Parking not included in the room price
  • Pool and fitness center not included in the room price

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is the finest of Milwaukee entertainment. The hotel is LEED Gold Certified and has ADA-friendly and hearing-impaired rooms available. The hotel itself is non-smoking but smoking is allowed on the casino floor.

Rooms start at $159 per night and include toiletries, a refrigerator, a coffeemaker, a hairdryer, a safe, and a 42-inch TV.

We took off stars because there is no pool.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino has many world-class entertainment options without even having to leave the building. You can hear up-and-coming musical acts for free at the casino. You can also see Bonkerz Comedy headliners and catch nationwide acts like Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt at the Northern Lights Theatre, which is just a short walk away through the casino.

There are seven restaurants to choose from, plus room service. Bar 360 offers drinks on an elevated bar right in the middle of the casino floor. Try Bella Italiana for Italian, The Buffet for a buffet of choices, Canal Street Cafe in the lobby for casual American food, The Curve Bar near the Buffet, Dream Dance Steak for a fast-casual or long-and-luxurious dining experience, Ruyi for sushi, and the Menomonee Valley Food Court for when you can’t choose.

With everything underneath one roof, you hardly need to go out and explore. But if you do, Miller Park is right nearby where you can catch a baseball game, The Harley-Davidson museum is also close by. The location is not directly downtown, so we took off one star.

PROS

  • Discounts for companies or big groups, plus AAA, AARP, and federal employee discounts
  • Clean and comfortable rooms with lots of space
  • Free parking
  • Handicap accessible rooms

CONS

  • Casino is smokey
  • Hotel is not directly downtown
  • Rooms can be smokey

The Iron Horse Hotel

The Iron Horse Hotel is an industrial-chic boutique hotel housed inside a former factory and warehouse. It’s also right along a railroad, and Iron Horse is how many Native Americans referred to steam locomotives. It may have some biker touches, but this is definitely not a “biker bar”. Classy cocktails and a well-dressed set are the norm here.

The Iron Horse Hotel is closely tied in with the nearby Harley-Davidson Museum and offers designated bike parking and on-site bike wash stations. The rooms even are designed for bikers’ comfort with hooks for hanging heavy leather jackets and workbenches for storing helmets. The hotel also holds special events on Thursdays for bikers.

The Iron Horse is also a great choice for business travelers. Rooms have desks with leather swivel chairs and there are meeting rooms available for small meetings or large events. Printing services are available and there is Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. The Iron Horse Hotel has successfully managed to appeal to bikers and business travelers alike.

Rooms range from around $179 to $330 per night depending on the date. Pet-friendly rooms are available for an extra $75 fee, and this includes doggie treats.

The Iron Horse Hotel features pleasing amenities like a 24-hour fitness center that has restrooms, towels, and refreshments. There is a nice array of equipment including punching bags. There isn’t a pool or a full-service spa, but there are 2 treatment rooms where you can choose from a variety of massages.

There are several options for lunch and dinner within the hotel. Try the Smyth for seasonal dishes drawn from the influences of Wisconsin and the Midwest. Branded is the hotel bar that serves classic cocktails and new innovations concocted by the bar’s mixologists. It also features delicious bar food with options like tempura battered cheese curds, charcuterie boards with local Wisconsin cheeses, and squash chowder. Food is served at Branded until 11 pm during the week and the kitchen is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

The Yard is the outside dining area, pet-friendly of course. You can enjoy live music and Thursday Bike Nights here.

The star nearby attraction is the Harley-Davidson Bike Museum, where you can learn about the Motor Company’s history in Milwaukee. This is a must for motorcycle enthusiasts. The hotel can arrange tickets to the museum beforehand and also offers an exclusive Back Roads Tour. Other Travel Green Wisconsin partner attractions are the Great Lakes Distillery, Lakefront Brewery, Lake Express High-Speed Ferry, and Miller Park. The hotel is not directly downtown, so we took off one star.

PROS

  • High ceilings, exposed brick, industrial-chic architecture
  • Loft-style rooms
  • Pet-friendly
  • Free downtown shuttle available
  • Food gets rave reviews
  • Excellent hospitality and service

CONS

  • Loud if there are large events, which is often
  • Some rooms can hear train noise; hotel provides earplugs
  • Parking is expensive
  • Restaurants closed between 2 and 5pm

The Brewhouse Inn & Suites

Experience a former Pabst Brewery redone with modern finishes in a way that retains its brewery past at The Brewhouse Inn & Suites. Its brewery past is unmistakable as you see large copper breweing kettles when you step into the lobby. Choose from an array of suites that offer amenities like work areas, kitchen tables, and full-sized kitchens.

Suites are well-equipped for long-term stays with workspaces and full kitchens. Guests say valet parking is expensive and that you are better off just finding street parking in the area, which is not too difficult. Guests also recommended the top-floor rooms which have private balconies.

Suites range from between $160 per night to around $300 per night.

The Brewhouse loses a star because it does not have a pool. There is an on-site fitness center, guest laundry services, weekday dry cleaning, and a business center. This is a top choice for business and long-term travelers.

Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub on the ground floor of the hotel keeps it local with 13 Wisconsin beers on tap. They source their spirits from the Great Lakes Distillery. Jackson Blue Ribbon Pub offers lunch, dinner, room service, and late-night dining.

The hotel is located a bit west of downtown, part of the revitalization of Milwaukee. You can walk to the Fiserv Forum where you can see the Milwaukee Bucks play. Other destinations in downtown are a short 5-minute drive away.

Explore Milwaukee’s “Beer City” past by exploring the Pabst Theatre and Pabst Mansion. Nearby breweries include Lakefront Brewery, Black Husky Brewery, Miller Brewery, City Lights Brewery Co., Third Space Brewery, and Sprecher Brewery Company. Let’s not forget Milwaukee Brewing Company and the Milwaukee Ale House, which is the original home of the Milwaukee Brewing Company.

PROS

  • Complimentary continental breakfast
  • Complimentary hotel shuttle to Miller Park
  • Amenities and workspaces good for extended stays
  • Huge rooms

CONS

  • $28 a day parking
  • Not much to do in the area without driving
  • Guests experienced some strange service issues
  • Continental breakfast skimpy

Conclusion

Hotel Pfister Sign

Image via Flickr

The Pfister Hotel gets 5 stars out of 5 because it has managed to retain its historical excellence without staying stuck in the past. Guests should be prepared to pay for extras such as parking and spa services—or plan ahead and park on the street. It seems worth it to spring for the Club Lounge for the full experience. And even better if you can go around the holidays!

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