What do you get when you revitalize a 100-year old building into a boutique lodging option? For us, it was a chance to stay in the upscale Stella Hotel & Ballroom, just a few blocks from the shores of Lake Michigan. This patch of land held the oldest malting plant in the state, before its fiery end on St. Patrick’s Day of 1914. From the ashes, the current structure rose as a local Elks Club. What we found is that the new owners are embracing the past, while adding a host of modern amenities.
We want to thank Visit Kenosha and Stella Hotel for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Embracing the Past
The Stella Hotel & Ballroom is certainly a beauty to behold. The lobby is a welcoming space that beckons visitors to relax for a bit. Throughout the hotel we found reconditioned wood and terrazzo flooring. The retro wallpaper patterns speak of days long ago. In places, we could see the exposed brick and support beams that are the bones of the building. We had a chance to check out the ballroom, which was being prepared for a wedding. The huge space has an air of elegance that reminded us of the early 1900s.
With 80 rooms to choose from, we were lodged in one of their Heritage Suites. Complete with a living room, separate bedroom, and oversized bathroom, this would be the perfect spot for any weekend getaway. A small wet bar offered us a fridge to keep our local purchases cool (We love chocolate!), as well as a Keurig to get us going in the morning. With TVs in the living room and bedroom, as well as WiFi, we were easily able to stay connected to the world. The muted colors were accented by the small splashes of color and interesting light fixtures. It was obvious that a lot of attention had been put into the redesign of this place.
Fun and Games
Our exploration uncovered more unique amenities inside the Stella Hotel & Ballroom. An exercise room offers space to burn off some of the calories we take in at all of the local eateries, like Frank’s Diner just a couple of blocks away. (You can see the plates at Frank’s here.) Nearby, we located a game room filled with over-size versions of some classics. It looks like the perfect place to have family game night or just a friendly couple’s competition. We love boutique style lodging destinations, since they will usually have a laundry list of amenities. If we had not been doing so much research on Kenosha, we would have been tempted to hole up in the hotel for a couple of days.
With an amazing room and plenty of in-house distractions, the only thing we would need would be food. Fortunately, the Stella Hotel & Ballroom has that covered, as well. For breakfast and lunch, guests can choose from a wide menu at The Cafe. We did take the opportunity to sample The 1844 Table & Mash, their flagship restaurant, for dinner one evening. The same beautiful craftsmanship comes through in this space, as it does in the balance of the hotel. As we passed the whiskey bar, on our way to our table, the hostess explained that they offer 30 different whiskies, bourbons, and ryes. There are some people we know who would love to spend some time sampling their collection.
Kicking it Up a Notch
Knowing that we would be heading out for ice cream later that evening, we decided to try to keep our meal light. Unfortunately, the best made plans often go awry. The chef was eager to show off one of their premier appetizers, and soon we were facing a dish of Chicken Pops. (Pictured at top of page) After polishing off these delectable bites, it was time to get down to the main courses. When I saw Stella’s Burger on the menu, it immediately called to me. Made with 3 cuts of beef. and a slice of pork belly, it sounded delicious. The burger is topped with cheddar and an onion confit, and comes housed inside of a brioche bun. It had so many levels of flavor and paired well with their well-seasoned steak fries.
Soup and Salad
Crystal decided to go in a lighter menu direction than I had. She started with French Onion Soup Au Gratin. The rich and flavorful soup is made with slow cooked onions, which helps impart plenty of flavor to the dish. Before it is served, the presentation is made complete with a crown of bread and grated cheese. What a wonderful way to warm up on a cool evening. To compliment this dish, she added a Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken. While I may sometimes chide her for the dishes she selects, they both looked rather delightful. She pointed out to me that she was showing our readers that there is a wide range of meal choices at the restaurants we visit. I suppose that I will need to get used to taking photos of salads.
In the Middle of the Action
Our visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin was another reminder of how many cities have pedestrian friendly downtown areas. With our lodging at the Stella Hotel & Ballroom putting us in the heart of the action, we were able to park our car for the majority of our visit. The landscape of this portion of the city is fairly level, so no big hills to climb. With a sensible grid system for the streets, it was easy to locate attractions, dining, and shopping options. Toss in the electric streetcar, and we found this Midwestern city to be a perfect place for all ages to explore. Doesn’t this sound like the a great place to visit?
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