Just got back from a stay at HotelRED and really enjoyed the experience!
The first thing that impressed me was the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. When I arrived, the front desk person (Kendall) was busy helping another customer by telephone, so the chef de cuisine (John - who happened to be in the lobby) came over to help me. He was able to start the check-in process and was subsequently assisted by the general manager (Jason) and Kendall was able to finish off the process when she got off the phone. Jason threw in some local chocolates and some drink coupons for the “wait,” which really wasn’t a hassle at all. At all other times I went through the lobby there were always people at the front desk, so I must have arrived at an odd moment.
Also, when arriving, there is not a porte cochere at the front of the building - you can park under the building at the back, or in a small surface lot there. When we arrived, there was not a valet on duty, but later when returning from our event, there was free valet service. If you have a big SUV, the clearance on the underground garage is 7 feet (if I recall correctly.) They also have a shuttle.
We stayed in a “regular” room, which is called a king executive suite, consisting of a king bed, kitchenette, comfy chair, desk and chair and dresser. Very spacious and super high ceiling. This room did not have a balcony, but it being winter, didn’t mind that. We would not mind trying a one-bedroom suite with balcony upon a return visit. The décor is very cool but we did get a surprise when we first walked in, due to the polished concrete floor – very different from most hotels with their standard carpeting. There was a nice area rug on one side of the bed. After a second to get used to it, I liked the floor and the thought that an area rug can actually get taken out to be cleaned, unlike carpet. Grungy hotel carpet is the worst, and haven’t we all stayed at a hotel/motel where you didn’t even want to walk on the gross floor?
The bed had very nice linens and poufy, smushy pillows. I love those nice white beds with duvets that can get taken off and cleaned between guests. (Can you tell that I really like clean in a hotel? I really do!) It had a pillowtop mattress, nice. It is a platform bed, which I have never slept on so it was lower to the ground than I’m used to. It also felt a little different than a traditional bed with a box spring, not bad, but different. Right away it was super comfy, but I did wake up briefly with a little backache in the night – at that point it felt kind of too soft and too firm at once, but I slept okay again later – don’t know if I could sleep on a bed like that for many days in a row, however. Maybe just a personal thing and a good excuse for DH to give a backrub.
The bathroom was nicely appointed, and the shower was fantastic! The shower unit allows you to be sprayed from the top, the side or by a handheld unit – or all three at once. Luxury. One caveat, the shower stall is floored with the same concrete as the floor and DH slipped a little, which made me slightly nervous, so I was careful when I moved around in there. Perhaps that is something the hotel may want to check on, maybe the stall floors need to be roughed up a bit. The Aveda products were, as always, sublime. The towels were fluffy and there were robes for use as well.
Others have mentioned the open space between the bathroom and main area of the rooms, which we didn’t find to be an issue. The toilet area had a separate door and light, so there is no need to necessarily flip on the main bathroom area lights, unless you want to shower. There was a little nightlight by the sink, too. As for noise, well, if you are in a one bed room, you probably know the person you’re staying with pretty well and some things are just a fact of life. You can close the toilet area door and the bathroom door, so that’s some buffering anyway. We also didn’t notice any issues with steam from the bathroom shower drifting into the room from the open space.
The lobby and The Wise (the bar/restaurant) are very coolly decorated. We did not get a chance to eat at the hotel (sorry, John) but we did grab a few drinks at the bar. Comfy upholstered chairs at our little table, but I felt a little short – like a kid at a grown-up table…maybe a pillow or two, as another reviewer suggested. Drinks were good and service was fine, but our server that night was probably the most disinterested employee we met at the hotel. Well, can’t have perfection and I guess it was only drinks anyway. Meh.
HotelRED has free wireless, which is much appreciated – how many nice hotels try and charge you for that stuff (hate being nickled and dimed!) You just need to grab a login and password at the front desk and you can log in with no issues. The TV in the room is great, HD and a nice sized. Not a ton of channels (lots of sports ones!) but do you really go somewhere to sit around and watch TV? It even had a guide channel, which is something we generally miss when traveling.
The kitchenette in the room was really fantastic. It comes complete with dishwasher, sink, fridge, microwave, two-burner stove and all the glasses, dishes and silverware you could need. The fridge is also the minibar, but there was room for us to stash some water and juice in there, too. As others have mentioned, it is not a sensor minibar, so you could move things if you needed to. We also loved the Keurig coffeemaker.
We were going to try the room service for breakfast, but I could not find a menu in the room and didn’t see it in the info book on the desk. A search for the drawers and cupboards also proved fruitless, and during it I did note that the room also didn’t have a Gideon bible or a phone book, but I like weird details like that (not judging, just saying.) There were a few local magazines in the room and we did get the local paper, Wisconsin State Journal, left on our door in the morning.
Anyway – breakfast. Right next to the hotel is a diner, Mickie’s Dairy Bar, which DH knew from his time at the university, so he ran over to get some to-go breakfast. (Please know that Mickie’s is cash only!) He ordered it and it was literally done in three minutes and it was good – and it was huge, we split it. It wasn’t busy when he went in, but it was packed with people later in the morning when we checked out – packed! A Madison institution and worth a stop for a casual breakfast, but I’d go early! You can see the reviews on Yelp, etc.
The location of the hotel is fantastic, right across from Camp Randall and convenient to campus. There is a bike path running right next to the building that DH wants to try in better weather. Given the fact that it was state wrestling tournament time, the hallways were quite quiet, except a bunch of kids singing “Happy Birthday” in the hallway at 11:30pm – I could imagine it being louder on game days and with the proximity to a major university some noise can be expected and forgiven.
We found the hotel on Trip Advisor, as it is very new - just opened in August 2011. After looking through the various booking websites I found the best deal on the HotelRED site itself, so it pays to shop around.
All in all, a superb stay and we will definitely be back. Highly recommend!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC