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500 W. Florida Street
Tel: 888 543 4766 (toll-free)
Tel: 414 374 4766
Milwaukee may be home to motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson, but hogs are not the only reason for the new Iron Horse Hotel's name. A former bedding warehouse on the south fringe of downtown, the hotel is set alongside a working freight rail linethe original "iron horse." And although it's on the periphery, the hotel is anything but marginal. Beneath 300-year-old heart pine ceiling beams and iron chandeliers fashioned from motorcycle gears, Brew City hipsters swill cherry-infused Old-Fashioneds in a two-story lobby lounge that looks like it was accessorized by a Hollywood set designer channeling Pretty Babythink vintage wire dress forms, velvet pillows, and Oriental rugs. That playful sense of nostalgia continues upstairs in the 100 guest rooms, which are dominated by sepia-toned murals of women that feminize the otherwise masculine quarters (black-leather headboards, dark velvet drapes). Each has a spacious slate-tiled foyer where a rough-hewn wooden bench and sturdy metal hooks await guests' leather jackets and helmets and panniersor laptops and roll-aboards.
When to go: Bike seasonspring through fall. For peak bike traffic, the weeks before and after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Aug. 3-9, 2009).
Which room to book: Those on the north side of the building offer a view of downtown, the Menomonee River, and the train tracks.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.