Boutique hotel will be a new addition to Dubuque’s developing Millwork District
“Ordinary hotels just got a dodge ball to the face! Possibly the coolest renovation of an old school, ever,” states the press release about Grinnell’s newest hotel.
The trend of independent hotels has arrived in Iowa and Grinnell is one of the first towns to benefit. Categorized as a boutique hotel, Hotel Grinnell opened last fall.
“(Boutique hotels) have under 100 rooms, are bohemian, quirky, and often thematic,” explained Kalli Miner, a 2015 Loras graduate and the communications and digital marketing manager for Hotel Grinnell. “No two rooms are the same. People don’t want to pay money for four walls and a bed. They want to celebrate the location. They also want something unique and trendy.”
While the hotel is new, the building contains almost 100 years of history. Constructed in 1921, it was originally a junior high school and later housed City Hall. However, after City Hall relocated, the historic building became the perfect location for a long-desired hotel in the downtown district.
Combining the history of the building with the chic style of boutique hotels, Hotel Grinnell includes 43 renovated classrooms turned bedrooms with chalkboard include, historic school photos, old lockers remodeled into benches, special features such as ‘Hall Pass’ key card holders and #2 branded pencils and The Periodic Table on-site eatery and drink lab
The hotel also includes a ballroom, historic auditorium and two bunk rooms of 10 beds each, making Hotel Grinnell a great host for wedding parties or conferences.
Not only does the hotel share history with newcomers, but it preserves the memories of locals who attended the school.
Through partnership with Steve Holtze, founder and chairman of the board at Magnolia Hotels (higher end boutique hotels), Hotel Grinnell aims to provide affordable yet hipster locations to stay.
“We’re the Magnolia for the 20-35 year olds who don’t have the money but don’t want to stay in a cookie cutter hotel,” said Miner.
For Angela Harrington, the owner and operator of Hotel Grinnell, this boutique hotel is only the first. Her next stop: Dubuque.
“Grinnell College is the biggest customer, and it created the need there,” said Miner. “We wanted to go to a bigger city, but not quite as big as Des Moines or Iowa City. With three colleges, we wanted to bring that upscale urban hotel to places like Dubuque because people will love it.”
Hotel Dubuque will be located in the Millwork District and set to open this summer.
“For our brand, it is really important to use old buildings. The owner has this unique talent to look at the most rundown building and have this vision to bring history back to life, which is really important for districts like the Millwork District.”
“The building is currently condos and apartments,” Miner explained. “We are taking one or more of the floors and turning them into a hotel with a restaurant and luxury spa.”
With a degree with social work with double minors in politics and peace and justice, Miner never expected to follow this route after college.
“I credit The Lorian with playing a large role in sparking interest in the field,” Miner said.
A former opinion columnist for The Lorian, her column “A Miner Double Take” discussed hot topics in politics and sociology.
“It helped me to take complex ideas and break it down into more consumable material, and that is what I do now,” she said. “Most of my job is writing for marketing purposes, and The Lorian gave the practice.”