Disclaimer: HotelRED provided a free dinner and night’s stay in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions are our own!
A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a rare night off from parenting duties to enjoy a mini staycation downtown. It’s something we’d been wanting to do for awhile, so when HotelRED offered to host us for a night, and the grandparents offered to hold down the fort at home (thank you Paul and Becky!), we jumped at the opportunity.
First of all, if you’ve never done a downtown staycation, DO IT! It’s not easy making “real” couple’s getaways happen, especially with young kids, but just a single night away – even if it’s not far away – can be so good for your sanity and your marriage. Trust me, once you’re it that swanky hotel lobby, you’ll feel like you could be anywhere!
Plus, just because we live here doesn’t mean we should never get to experience some of the sweet hotels in our area – like HotelRED.
If there was a hotel award for Local Pride, it would have to go to HotelRED. Starting with the name itself – a hat tip to the color of our beloved Badgers – and the hotel’s location right across the street from the stadium, this place is a Game Day dream.
At check in, every guest gets a decadent, custom Hotel RED chocolate from Maurie’s, the chocolatier just down the street. In each room is a welcome basket brimming with local favorites and treats that scream WISCONSIN! The mini fridge features craft beers from (where else?) New Glarus and Capital Brewery.
And then there are the rooms themselves: sleek, inviting, and of course, red. HotelRED somehow hits the perfect balance between modern and cozy. I loved the unique wall décor, featuring Wisconsin-appropriate spoken phrases turned art. (Ours said “Cheese State”—of course we had to try saying it, to see if it really sounds the way it looks. You will too!)
After oohing and aahing our way through our room (aka sitting on the balcony picking through our welcome basket), we headed downstairs for dinner at The Wise restaurant. The food is described as “a modern Wisconsin-inspired menu of approachable, sustainable dishes,” featuring classics like cheese curds and mac & cheese (with bacon!) alongside some more unique items.
Chef Mike Magee, who came to Madison from New Orleans and brought some Creole influence with him, was incredibly accommodating, and personally offered a list of suggestions for us to work our way through. Suggestion #1: Chorizo Stuffed Dates, which were to DIE for. An odd combo (or so I thought), but definitely one worth going out of your way to try. (Seriously, my mouth is watering right now just writing about them.)
Next up was the Cauliflower, served with cocoa nibs, golden raisins, and—the best part—candied lemons! I was swooning so hard over these, I swore I was going to try to recreate the recipe at home. After that came the fish tacos, the risotto, and the wild mushroom agnolotti…everything so, SO good.
Then there were the drinks. I was thrilled to see a Wise Mule (a current obsession), served in the signature copper mug. It was perfection.
I also tried the RED Lemonade, which I was nervous to do at first (I was worried it would be too sweet)–I was wrong. It tasted fresh and simple, but with a bite—definitely the adult version of what first came to my mind. I loved it.
Other things to love at HotelRED?
· They’re pet friendly. Pets even get a welcome treat in the lobby upon arrival.
· Parking is free, even if you’re stopping by for dinner.
· Staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the Madison area. The general manager, Jason, is recognized by staff as one of the kindest people around. (I can attest to that too!)
· You can’t beat that university energy outside the window—I can only imagine what it’s like to sit on one of those balconies on a Badger Saturday!
And don’t forget to try that candied lemon cauliflower!
Photos provided by Hotel RED.
Click here to enter to win a one night midweek stay for two; dinner for two with a chance to meet Chef Mike Magee – ask him for tips on authentic Creole cooking and he’ll happily oblige; and a gift of HotelRED chocolates to take home as a sweet reminder of your visit!
(Not on Facebook? Comment below and we will add you to the drawing!)