Downtown Minneapolis is a strange place. The cold is so teeth-chatteringly, bone-shudderingly, ‘I wish I’d worn more bloody layers’-ingly cold that in the 60s businesses starting creating climate controlled spaces in which humans could pass efficiently from building to building without having to brave the afore mentioned chill. The skyway, or ‘hamster tunnels’ as a colleague affectionately nicknamed them, blazes a path through the downtowns most distinguished restaurant and shopping districts, stopping off at business plazas and hotels along the way. This seemingly futuristic, yet dated system of walkways is somewhat labyrinthian in its design and can leave you spat out at ‘what I thought was 2nd street, but google maps says I’m going west and now I can’t seem to get back to the skyway I was on by that Thai place’. In any case, the skyway, luckily for me, via an extremely convoluted route goes from The Hotel Ivy, my hotel located deep in the downtown maze, and The Orpheum Theatre – work. So in spite of its apparent madness, keeping me from the bitter cold in exchange for 5 extra minutes of time is a trade-off I’m willing to make.
The Hotel Ivy, is a beacon of modernity and American metropole traditionalism, coexisting with style and verve. Elements of Great Gatsby grandeur, blend nicely in to the post modern interior, adorned with marble and wood that immediately elevates the passage of the guest from their first step in to the hotel. The 2016 renovation preserves the Art Deco, ‘Ivy Tower’ incorporating it in to the architecture of the hotel with exuberant success. The lobby is light and airy, without losing its chicness. The large entryway uses various shades of whites in all sorts of textures to exaggerate the spaciousness created by the large glass panelling beyond the front desk. Staff are welcoming, with a professionalism one would expect from the ‘Bespoke Hotel’ brand of Marriott. Front desk staff greet me with ‘good afternoon Mr Colvin’ upon each entry to the hotel, a small, slightly creepy, but certainly gratifying touch which had me feeling very important. The hotel is home to an eco-friendly Spa, an Italian restaurant, and a cocktail bar, not to mention impressive gym complex, so without any further ado, I jump in.
My grand suite is a large apartment on the 12th floor, entering in to a corridor that winds through to a well proportioned living space, complete with Smart TV, leather sofas, an office, a second bathroom and of course, chaise lounge. The room is light, in spite of the lack of direct sunlight to the main room. The bedroom feels more brooding, dark woods, and floral dark rugs are lined by large windows with cream drapes. The centre piece, a huge king sized bed is a welcome sight for any traveller, it is extremely comfortable, with crisp, fine linen sheets, perfect for an indulgent morning laying in its embrace for as long as the alarm clock will allow. My favourite part, the ensuite bathroom is lined with creamy, grey tiles, and a huge deep bath perfect even for this 6ft4 writer. The bathroom is pure opulence in hospitality form, complete with designer brand soaps, plush towels, a large luxury shower, and a rich bathrobe, this bathroom will have you dreaming of owning your own, and the extent to which you could grow mad with pampering, were this at your beck and call at all times.
For Dinner, I head down to the ground floor for posh Italian nosh at Monello, the fine dining restaurant combines industrial features typical of modern restaurants, exposed air con vents, dangling stainless steel light features with large glass frontage, a grey, white, colour palette. Here, the food takes centre stage. I am presented with a gorgeous sampling of breads upon my arrival, the warm, soft, yet crunchy rosemary focaccia loaf, is truly bread heaven with its rosemary or salt butter pairing. Upon the recommendation of the waiter I opt for the Grilled Octopus Primi piatti. The food is presented delightfully, the grilled octopus lies on a rich bed on tomato, cucumber, crunchy grilled garlic and pine nuts. There is a smokey, sweet, spicy combination of flavours that work extremely well. The meaty Octopus tentacles are crunchy on the exterior with that chewy almost gelatinous interior, props go to the chef for the combination of textures as well as flavours on offer here. For main, I go for the Buchetti, a simple pasta dish, tomato, onion, pork, cheese. I always find a strange balance in writing on food, trying to assess the ability of the chefs, and the quality of their food for me, I try to look for a combination of creative flair, delicious food, but also can you do the basics right? As someone who has travelled a lot in Italy, eaten a lot of world class pasta from various osteria and ristorante I felt I could rightly judge a dish with such simplicity. Needless to say, it was delicious. It is the mark of a great chef to take something basic and just do it really, bloody well, transforming these simple ingredients with stellar cooking ability in to something of truly high class, restaurant quality.
The Ivy also houses its own speakeasy, cocktail bar. Beneath the ground floor lies a dimly lit, small space, lined with ambers, dark woods, dark walls, mirrors, Tudor portraits, large arched entrance ways and monogrammed walls. Step in to some sort of hipster paradise, with a little of Henry VIII’s delirium thrown in for good measure. The bar is strange, but ridiculously cool. The clientele are fashionable, and range from casually dressed to super formal. Yet, the juxtaposing forces somehow meld to form a beautiful collage, blurred together beneath the candlelit, vogue silhouettes that bob and sway to the music that sets the rhythm here at Constantine. I definitely recommend grabbing a drink here, if you can find a stall to watch from.
This hotel gets top marks from me, across the board. The hotel is great in its entire approach and truly offers something for everyone, with a bespoke, high end feel that is approachable and ultimately comfortable. If your hotel can achieve this, then its very difficult to leave feeling disappointed.