History with High Energy at W Minneapolis –The Foshay

Undoubtedly, folks who are not from Minneapolis will wonder what exactly “the Foshay” means in the W Minneapolis hotel name. But locals will tell you that the Foshay tower is one of the most beloved and most recognizable landmarks in the city.

Built in 1929 for Wilbur Foshay—a businessman who amassed a fortune–the 32- story limestone-clad building was fashioned after the Washington monument (which had impressed Foshay as a child). Using an existing two-story structure as its base, the tapering tower was constructed on top.  No expense was spared in what was to be Mr. Foshay’s company headquarters. Mahogany and marble, terrazzo, a silver and gold-plated ceiling–the Art Deco interior epitomized the golden age of the 1920s. Its crowning glory? an observation deck on the 30th floor which offered a 360 degree view of the city and Mississippi River.

Alas, the timing was dismal. Shortly after its extravagant opening, the onset of the Great Depression hit. Foshay lost all—even the check for $20,000 to John Philip Sousa bounced; he had been commissioned and composed a special march for the opening event.

Fast forward to 2008. After the Starwood company bought the property and poured millions of dollars to restore the declining building, the Foshay tower was returned to its former Art Deco glory. Re-emerging as a W hotel, it married history with high energy, classic with hipster. 

No where is this more apparent than upon entering the building– a long corridor stretches towards a glowing pink-lit suffused check-in desk. 

To the right of the corridor, guests pass by the Living Room–a sprawling main floor bar area of the W’s—filled with upholstered chairs and sofas, freestanding fireplaces, and a 40-foot long bar, usually occupied by cool and beautiful people of all ages.

As city hip as it all feels, the staff are down-home friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable about the city.

There are 229 rooms  and suites in the hotel—ranging from a “Wonderful Room” to the “Extreme Wow Suite”–reached by the historic updated elevators that require your room card to be swiped before you can punch in the floor of your room—always a good security gesture.

My corner room on the 25th floor was a “Marvelous Suite”. A living/sitting room area was big enough to have a party in and included a comfortable sofa, flat screen t.v. and coffee table with Chanel and Gucci fashion books, plus a pretty-in-hot-pink “ MIX bar, and entertainment center.

Workaholics will find a desk with plenty of plugins –and a lovely view. The curved windowed corner of the room had been made into a dining alcove. 

Before arrival, I was emailed and asked if I had special interests—(not uncommon with the W hotel’s booking procedures). As a result, a “welcome” gift of delicious local chocolates, bottle of bubbly and books cut in the shape of my initials definitely managed to reflect my response—one of the personal luxury touches this high end property often provides.

The separate bedroom featured the comfortable signature W bed (king-sized) –another of my favorite reasons for staying in any W hotel—along with the requisite linens and duvet. 

The spacious bathroom reflected the bedroom’s sophisticated blacks and whites –but surprisingly had only one sink (and what’s with these flat-bottom sinks anyway? They’re cool looking, but totally impractical). But I loved the separate walk-in rainforest shower, the fantastic soaking tub that overlooked the city lights—and of course the slippers, bathrobes (two), plenty of plush towels, and Bliss amenities that are also part of the package. 

Wi-fi is $12.95 daily (Really?), but as a Starwood member (sign-up is easy and free), wi-fi is complimentary. The FIT gym is fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and accessible with your hotel key. Although I did not take advantage of them, spa services are available with the W’s Whatever/Whenever service –which can arrange them (with advance booking) in their special spa treatment rooms.

The W Minneapolis-Foshay is smack dab in downtown and near numerous restaurants; but the steak emporium, Manny’s—is part of the hotel and can be entered directly from the W lobby. For breakfast, staff often suggests taking a few short steps to the local family-run institution of Key’s Cafe –renowned for its huge pancakes, cinnamon rolls and more. One of my personal favorite downtown breakfast spots, Hell’s Kitchen and its Angel Food Bakery, are just up the street.

At night time, there’s nothing like the hotel’s Prohibition Bar on the 27th floor.  Located in what was to be Mr. Foshay’s original mahogany –paneled boardroom, several pieces of his furniture are featured here and the clubby ambiance gives it that speakeasy intimate vibe.  The view is lovely if you’re at a table near a window here. But for the best views, you need to go up to the Foshay’s 30th floor ‘s observation deck—the only one in the city. Nowadays, there’s a small museum attached to it. (Guests have free access to the museum and deck during its open hours; outside visitors need to pay $8.)

From this vantage point (the highest in Minneapolis until 1972), the Foshay tower feels just a bit dwarfed—with all the tall buildings that now surround it; but it’s still a wonderful view and a great spot to see how the city has grown, and the skyline has changed.

Room rates start out at approximately $259 and go upwards–depending on the season and city events. Valet parking is $38 a day. For more information, or to make reservations, check the website. You can also book through Priceline.

Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long who was a guest of the hotel for purposes of a review.

 

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