Step into the lobby of The Bradley in Fort Wayne, Indiana for a color and pattern feast. The bright wallpaper, retro furniture with modern accent pillows and area rugs are a playful, stylish combination. With Barbara Bradley Baekaard of the Vera Bradley fashion label as a hotel co-founder, the color popping ambiance is no surprise. Provenance Hotels teamed up with Baekaard to add another boutique hotel to its repertoire that includes Seattle, New Orleans and Nashville.
The Vera Bradley label known for bright colors in paisley, bird, and floral motifs is a Fort Wayne success story. The brand is perfect for a hotel pairing. Barbara Bradley Baekaard and Patricia Miller founded Vera Bradley in Baekaard’s Fort Wayne basement. Although the company went public in 2010, Baekaard remains a creative force. The hotel is a latest endeavor.
This 124-guest room, nine-suite hotel has touches of Vera Bradley design, but there are many other influences. For example, the hotel also showcases Fort Wayne’s local art scene talent. The first-floor hallway is a gallery of works by students at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Paintings by Indiana artist, Theoplis Smith III, known as Phresh Laundry are in the hotel’s common areas. Local artist Julie Wall was commissioned to create the nature inspired block prints for the guest rooms. Even light fixtures are locally sourced.
Like the rest of the hotel, my room’s decor had a creative pattern and color combination. The floral headboard was pure Vera Bradley. The rest was a mix of styles. Lamps and accent furniture harmonized in a thoughtful mix of form and function similar to Danish design. The bed was comfortably divine, and the plush monogramed bathrobe a wonderful touch. The bathroom was sleek and classy as the rest of the accommodations. There was a 50″ TV, iron, ironing board, hair dryer and high-end bathroom amenities. I must say, I was fond of the sink faucets. They were gold–not real gold, but impressively weighty.
My only beef with the room was the lack of a coffee maker. Coffee, however, is available at the cafe that’s part of the lobby. But getting coffee is not a late at night venture. I like the idea of having control of my caffeine fix whether I use the coffee maker or not.
Still, there are terrific dining options at The Bradley. Arbor, located on the ground floor, is a lovely bar and restaurant combination that attracts locals and hotel guests. The cuisine is a creative approach to American Italian and includes steak options. I had a glass of wine one night before the bar closed at 10 pm. It opens at 7 am for the breakfast crowd. Another dining and libations offering is Birdie’s. This rooftop bar is a lively spot with a casual, but classy Florida vibe. Birdie’s closes at 10 pm as well.
Like every other corner of The Bradley, the lobby bathrooms have a unique flair. The wallpaper in the women’s bathroom is a nod to Indiana. The Vera Bradley wallpaper design features Fort Wayne’s skyline, peonies (Indiana’s state flower), and cardinals–the state bird.
Because The Bradley is in Fort Wayne’s downtown, it’s a well-positioned hub for walking everywhere. I parked on Friday in a nearby parking garage and did not move my car for the rest of the weekend. I was in walking distance to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, The Botanical Conservatory, The Allen County Library with the 2nd largest genealogy collection in the world and The Lincoln Collection, a robust exhibit of Abraham Lincoln history, photographs and artifacts. The Landing, the historic district with eateries and shops is also within walking distance. Don’t miss the downtown murals if you go.
Rooms range from deluxe rooms with two queens or a king bed to deluxe king suites. Rates range from $171 to $260. Some rooms are handicapped accessible and pet friendly. There is valet parking available. Book with the hotel or try Hotels.com or Booking.com for a cheaper option.
My room was courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne as part of the Midwest Travel Journalists’ conference. I highly recommend Fort Wayne and The Bradley is a lovely stay.
Post and photos by Jamie Rhein