Le Meridien Chambers: Modern Art-Centric in Minneapolis

Even the elevator music at Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis has a contemporary artistic spin, playing a 24-hour soundtrack exclusively curated (by the Parisian team Nouvelle Vague) for the hotel. While it “activates moments of musical discovery during your stay,” some 200 pieces of original art displayed throughout give guests plenty of visual stimulation.  

Located in the heart of the downtown Hennepin Theater District (my room looked out on the beautiful 1921 beaux arts Orpheum Theater across the street), this art-centric boutique hotel has an enviable proximity: near the theaters, restaurants and clubs, it’s also within easy walking distance of Target Center (basketball) and Target Field (baseball). The world-renowned contemporary Walker Art Center is a mile away; added perk–your hotel key card gets you free admission there.

Guests enter the hotel from 9th Street through massive and distinctive mahogany double doors.

The lobby is off to the left, MARIN Restaurant and Bar to the right, and the check-in desk straight ahead. 

If you lean towards a warm and cozy hotel property, Le Meridien Chambers is probably not going to float your boat. But if you’re open and looking to combine some creative culture with a hotel stay, the place is a perfect fit.

That said, the space may definitely be cool, minimal and modernist, but its staff –like Thomas, who checked me in– are warm, friendly, and yes, “Minnesota nice.”  Later, I think he was the one who helped (and calmed me) when I called the desk, just a little frantic when I couldn’t find the channel to watch “Downton Abbey.” (We found it.) Service includes extra lux touches too. I appreciated the welcome sparkling wine and locally well-known Glam Doll doughnuts in the room when I arrived.

Opened in 2006 by local and prominent art collector Ralph Burnet, the hotel was something of an edgy architectural design feat itself–combining two 100-year old buildings—one four stories high, the other three stories high. The final property, connected by a link building, has 60 rooms, with an enclosed courtyard/terrace between the buildings and connected with the MARIN restaurant.

My corner room was a “Luxury Suite” (next in line to their Penthouse Suite for space and amenities). It was huge, complete with an extra half bath, a living room featuring lots of black, white and chrome furnishings, even a glass dining table and four chairs.

Each room has original artwork, there was a kitchenette (cocktails, anyone?), plus a fully stocked mini bar. Sadly, there was no coffeemaker. A super comfy soft-textured L-shaped sofa was great for viewing the 42-inch t.v. and also a prime spot for discreet people watching on Hennepin Avenue—windows were everywhere (loved the room darkening shades at night though). I think they must have been triple insulated as well–because even though I was on the second floor over the busy street, I couldn’t hear the cars and buses below. The most difficult part for me was simply figuring out how the light switches worked throughout—they were on a panel that looked like a thermostat.

The bedroom’s king “pillowtop” bed had the requisite luxury linens and a closet that could hold at least a week’s worth (or more) of clothes. 

A mounted t.v. for viewing was the only thing on the wall—and the room was just a shade too much black and white for me; I thought a pop of (even) pillow color would have been nice.

The master bathroom was spacious: easily accommodating two people (two sinks), flanked by  a rainsky shower on one side and a freestanding deep luxurious tub on the other. And color! Beautiful blue tile. Bathrobes and slippers were provided, thick towels, magnifying mirror. But the best bonus? Besides the mounted t.v. in there (making a total of three televisions in the suite)…the tiled floor was heated! 

The hotel has a small fitness center, and in-room massage service. Free wi-fi is available in the public spaces, but in guestrooms it’s $12.95 a day—boo hiss—although it is complimentary for SPG (Starwood) members—and membership is free. Parking is a hefty $38 a night. The hotel’s MARIN Restaurant and Bar features Northern California cuisine, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its “Sunday Suppers” deal is a good one: three courses for $25, plus bottles of wine at $12.

Standard “Classic Queen” room rates can start as low as $179, but rise quickly depending on the season or popular events going on. For more information, or to make reservations, check the website. You can also make your reservation through a booking site like Hotels.com or Expedia.

Photos and review by Donna Tabbert Long who was a guest of the hotel.

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