On a recent road trip back to my home state, I placed the historic Amana Colonies with its seven villages high on my list, because as an Iowa native, I hadn’t yet visited this area. And nothing says experience a national historic landmark more than a stay at the historic Zuber’s Homestead Hotel.
What are the Amana Colonies?
It was a dark and stormy day. Sort of. It was actually overcast with bursts of misty rain when I arrived in the Amana Colonies the end of March. The Amana Colonies are a quaint and very historic area in southeastern Iowa just north of Interstate 80. Settled in the 1850s by a German religious group, the Amana colonies consisted of 7 villages built one hour apart. If you’re from Iowa (like me!), you’ve likely already heard about the impressive shops and artisans in these villages. Hotels in the Amana Colonies are historic, small, intimate and personable B&Bs, just like the villages, each with their own character.
Hotels in the Amana Colonies are historic, small, intimate and personable B&Bs, just like the villages, each with their own character. Situated in the Homestead historical district, Zuber’s Homestead Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the Amana Colonies, and minutes from any of the other 6 villages.
Arrival at Zuber’s Homestead Hotel
All stops in the Amanas are greeted by Gemütlichkeit, “a German word for that feeling of being home, comfortable, belonging, with family and friends, relaxed, warm, and cozy.” When you check into Zuber’s Homestead Hotel, there’s even a sign at the registration desk (see above) defining this German hospitality.
This hotel in the Amana Colonies is a two-story brick building with a rich history. Zuber’s Homestead Hotel is located in the village of Homestead, a few minutes drive from what is known as Middle and High Amana, where many of the shops and artisans are located.
One of the owners/innkeepers Brian greeted me at the front desk upon my arrival — and that’s when I really experienced Gemütlichkeit. Genuinely friendly and welcoming, Brian checked me in quickly including an overview of the hotel’s history.
Zuber’s Homestead Hotel History
The Homestead settlement began in 1842, with a stagecoach stop in 1850, and then in 1859, the railroad came to town. Built by the Amana Society in 1860, Zuber’s Homestead Hotel (originally “Homestead Hotel”) was located in “uptown” Homestead. Salesman and travelers kept its 15 rooms and 1 bathroom consistently occupied. In 1890, a chimney fire destroyed its upper level, and the hotel was rebuilt by that fall.
A handful of innkeepers maintained the hotel over the years until in 1949 Bill and Connie Zuber purchased The Homestead Hotel to operate as Bill Zuber’s Dugout Restaurant. Bill was a Middle Amana native; Connie a Homestead native. Bill was a hometown hero with his 19-year career in baseball. During their ownership, the Zuber’s added a building to the restaurant, known as the Wagon Wheel Room, enclosed the lobby area (formerly grassy), and built an archway leading to other rooms.
In May of 2013, Brian and Bonnie James bought the hotel.
Accommodations at Homestead Hotel
What I really loved about this hotel is that it’s really a B&B without the tight corners and cramped space of many bed and breakfasts. The hallways are wide and filled with colorful paintings and period furniture, and this 2-story hotel is home to 15 uniquely decorated rooms.
Each of the 15 rooms highlights Iowa’s rich heritage, culture, people, and places — and that’s the cool thing about this stay. I’m an Iowan native, and seriously, I walked through the hallways (and my room!) enjoying the artwork, memorabilia, and information about the unique theme for that room and the area.
My room was located on the first floor, the Room #4, Glimpse of Amana. Upon opening the door, you’ll see the sitting room and then toward the window the bed and a TV. Plenty of workspace, free WiFi, and a large bathroom.
My guest room is a tribute to Amana’s local heritage with the traditional blue decor, handcrafted rugs, original communal photographs and antiques help you relax as soon as you enter.
Again, compared to some B&Bs, the innkeepers have created a really livable space, with plenty of room to make this hotel your base camp to explore the Amana Colonies.
Breakfast is Amazing!
Before retiring to bed, I enjoyed chatting with Innkeeper Brian in the Wagon Wheel Room, while enjoying some wine I had purchased at the Amana Colonies general store.
And the breakfast was home cooked including a frittata with some of that Iowa ham that I missed so much!