After winning Loyalty Traveler’s 50,000 SPG Points Giveaway recently (I know!), I wanted to add even more to our stash. At just the perfect time, SPG came up with an extra points package for their Le Meridien brand, and with Pete’s birthday as an excuse, I booked a suite at Le Meridien Chambers.
With our move to Hawaii looming, it was a great opportunity to experience Christmas-time in downtown Minneapolis. Next Christmas is going to be very different.
Le Meridien is a boutique-like hotel group with over 100 global properties acquired by Starwood in 2005. There is a Le Meridien advisory group, the LM100, “of cultural innovators and artists who define and enrich the guest experience at Le Méridien. The group comprises a global array of visionaries, from painters to photographers, musicians to designers, chefs to architects.” Le Meridien Chambers in Minneapolis is a luxury hotel showcasing the edgy and controversial private collection of local businessman, Ralph Burnet – who owns the hotel, and a relationship with the world-renowned Walker Art Center.
Our Executive Suite room at Le Meridien Chambers was decorated in minimalist contemporary style which complemented the original art on its walls. The suite layout resembled a high-end studio apartment with a half bath just inside the entry. The main area of about 600 square feet was entirely open with sleeping, living and work sections. If I were to design the perfect city studio apartment, I couldn’t do much better than this; one would just have to replace the half bath with a kitchenette. Every light switch had a dimmer, whether it was inside the bathrooms, bedside or sofa end table reading, or recessed lighting in the tall ceiling. The modern double window treatments were sleek rollups that could be adjusted for full blackout or privacy. There was a generous closet tucked in a small alcove off the sleeping area to create a little dressing area with full mirror. Complimentary robes hung in the main bath and the closet.
The bed had an abundance of pillows. Our sleep experience was cloud-like, snuggled in between a down-like pillow top and regular duvet on crisp high thread-count sheets. I wasn’t sure about the pillow top mattress, as I generally don’t prefer them, but this was a separate topper enclosed in its own duvet, reminiscent of a wonderful bed I drifted away in on a Norwegian mountaintop years ago, enveloped in soft warmth. This time, instead of reindeer bells, there was a bustling city outside our window! The bedside table had a white noise machine, and an MP3/iPhone ready speaker/alarm. Alas, this was not iPhone 5 ready and the front desk had no adaptor available, which was surprising.
The work area was terrific, encompassing the entire length of the far wall of the suite. Plenty of room to spread materials and electronics out, ample plug-ins, and great task lighting! The chair was comfortable, too! Mini-bar was unobtrusive behind a cabinet door, and local magazines were feature displayed. Ample drawer space completed the built-in unit. This layout would be a great save for future reference in a combination dining/office space for a studio apartment or even as part of a larger home, as it could do double duty as a serving space with a dining table adjacent. The shining ebony floors added drama: the furnishings appeared to float above them, creating a sort of trompe l’ oeil effect. Even though the decor could have seemed stark and cold, it was neither. The entire suite was comfortable and warm. The 42″ flatscreen TV, not pictured, was adjustable for viewing from living or sleeping areas.
The bathrooms were fun because they were so high style. The little half bath was very sleek and minimal. If this were my studio apartment, the kitchenette would have gone in this space. But as this suite is billed for sleeping up to four people, having this little bathroom is probably a better idea. I wouldn’t want to be one of four adults sleeping in this open layout, though. And I’m not sure whether this is a particularly family-friendly hotel.
The main bath’s shower wall was frosted glass, shared with the entry. Privacy wouldn’t be a huge concern, because technically you couldn’t see through it, but it wasn’t completely opaque either. If you’re single, or a couple in a studio apartment, this might not be the best option when guests are present. The shower itself was huge, with a true waterfall shower head mounted close to the ceiling. Definitely fun! As in the main suite area, all lights in the bathroom had dimmer switches. It was fun, too, controlling the mood in the bathroom with these. There was even a little nautically-inspired nightlight option below the television (yes, the television) in the bathroom. This was, I suppose, if you just couldn’t rely upon the huge flatscreen just outside. The bathroom door was fun, too. It was an enormous “barn” slider. The sink/makeup area had great lighting, but not a lot of space to put stuff. Maybe people who regularly stay here don’t require a lot of cosmetic assistance!
All in all, this was a fun stay! We’d rate Le Meridien Chambers a B+. The reasons it doesn’t get a solid A rating? First of all, if you’re going to advertise 24 hour room service, the implication for guests is they can order pastries at 4:30 AM (we’re early risers) along with their coffee. We couldn’t, and the coffee pot, although very high style, was on the small side.
Secondly, seriously, hotels everywhere: stop nickel and dime-ing your guests for internet service. A $12.95 per day charge for internet is just a joke nowadays when you can get free wi-fi at non-high end hotels as a matter of course. We were charged the $12.95 twice because we had more than one device going, so we had the desk remove the second charge. I had to ask to see the bill, though, as the desk wanted to just go ahead and hand me my bill for incidentals without review. Uh, no. It didn’t help that he mentioned the hotel restaurant was now open, either.
As with any downtown city hotel, you’re going to pay for parking. No different at Le Meridien Chambers. We parked in an adjacent ramp overnight and paid $13. Le Meridien’s valet would have cost us $30. Just saying. Maybe not fun to walk to the car in 7 degrees F, which it was this morning, but it was only a couple of minutes to do so. We headed back out to the suburbs for a hearty breakfast going against the commuter traffic. The next Le Meridien we’d like to stay in is the one in Bora Bora. That will be a while!