For sweet dreams (the real kind), nothing can compare to a stay at The Charmant Hotel in downtown LaCrosse, Wisconsin. LaCrosse is a river town on the Great River Road, approximately 140 miles southeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Located in the former Joseph B. Funke Candy Company factory building (the factory closed in 1933), the renovated hotel opened in late 2015—and salutes its sweet history with all sorts of fun details. From its “sweet dreams: do not disturb” door hanger signs in the shape of a wrapped candy
to the two-story glass wall in the lobby that displays the candy company’s memorabilia. (Charmant is the French word for charming. It was also the name of the Funke Candy Company’s premier line of chocolates.)
There’s even a replica of the building’s original water tower atop the terrace.
But the best detail has to be its candy counter featuring Indulgence Chocolatiers–one of Wisconsin’s best handcrafted chocolates. Situated most conveniently adjacent to Charmant’s check-in desk, the treats case is open 24 hours. This means even if you wake up at 2 a.m. with a craving for say, a chocolate coated “grey salt caramel”, it can be satisfied.
Check-in was sweet and easy. The excellent and friendly staff were excited to share the hotel’s history–and a signature chocolate was handed to me with my room key, standard procedure I noticed when another couple checked in.
The luxury boutique hotel has 67 rooms on its four original floors. A fifth floor was added to house four suites and a rooftop terrace that serves wood-fired pizza and libations, accompanied with views overlooking LaCrosse’s downtown and the Mississippi River.
The rooms are not huge, but spacious and decorated with an understated style. Rooms on the historic floors feature the polished up original maple wood flooring (the building was built in 1898) and some rooms have exposed brick and beams. It has been reported that some people can still smell the faintly sweet aroma of candy on these floors- but then again, that may just be the wishful thinking of chocolate lovers.
My room was a “Classic Chateau King” on the 5th floor with a private balcony bordered by greenery and with a partial view of the Mississippi River. It was one of the oversized rooms (for those who desire more space) and also had a sitting area with a sleeper sofa.
Like the other rooms, there was a 48” flat screen t.v. as well as a Bongo Bluetooth speaker. The King-sized bed was luxurious and comfortable; and I loved the ceiling to floor windows. Room rates start at approximately $219 (depending on the season) for a “Classic Salle King” and go upwards to $419 for a “Grand Salle” room –which includes a large wraparound balcony and an expansive river view. All have complimentary wi-fi.
The bathroom was a treat—with a deep soaking bathtub (most of the rooms only have showers), a separate rainfall shower, double vanity with magnifying makeup mirror, robes, a French-accented vanity set– and Bigelow bath products which included a small jar of bath salts for that beautiful tub. A nice touch.
Another sweet little touch: A cute wooden token with a note explaining it was for a free cup of locally roasted Kickapoo coffee in the “Parlour”– since the room did not have a coffeemaker.
The on-site restaurant serves “rustic French cuisine” using regionally sourced ingredients; breakfast was delightful and delicious, with bright sunshine flooding the room and a view of Riverside Park across the street and the Mississippi River beyond. Pieces of the building’s history were showcased in the lights and pulleys here too.
A cool zinc-topped bar in the lobby area reflects more of the hotel’s history and French focus.
Even the lampshades on the bar sported the hotel’s fancy “C” emblem. (In the elevators, the “C” is mosaic-ed into the floor tiles.)
Finally, don’t forget to stop in the “Parlour” for your free cup of coffee. It’s a great space with a warm vibe that features a wood-burning fireplace for those colder winter months.
Helpful tip when checking out: you probably should purchase a little box of chocolates for the road.
Photos and review by Donna Tabbert Long