Home for the holidays

Eight downtown hotels for visitors this holiday season.
AC Hotel downtown Grand Rapids exterior
Courtesy AC Hotel Grand Rapids

Everyone is coming home for the holidays, and as much as you want to host, space is at a premium. And if Aunt Teresa brings her extended family of eight again, you’re sleeping out in the camper.

This holiday season, it’s OK to take a break from being the “hostess with the mostest.” This season comes with enough stress. No judgment here!

You could try to rent an Airbnb, but with an influx of new downtown hotels this year, there’s plenty of centrally located options to fit everyone’s needs and style. Plus, everything downtown is within walking distance, meaning you don’t have to worry about entertaining 24/7.

Embassy Suites by Hilton
710 Monroe Ave. NW

Road warriors seek out Embassy Suites — likely for free Wi-Fi, large rooms, made-to-order breakfast and its “evening reception” (i.e., snack buffet and a free drink). But it’s not just for business travelers; the studios and suites (featuring a mini-refrigerator, microwave and sofa bed) make this a more comfortable option for longer-term stays. This new hotel opened in April and is located a few blocks from downtown across the street from Sixth Street Park with easy access to the highways and downtown. Put your active friends up here — they’ll love being able to run along the river in the mornings.

Homewood Suites by Hilton
Grand Rapids Downtown
161 Ottawa Ave. NW

Nestled in one of Grand Rapids’ downtown historic buildings (circa 1898), Homewood Suites is perfect for visitors staying in town more than a few days. They can take advantage of the en-suite kitchens and spacious rooms. With the colder weather, warm up by dancing the night away at Mojo’s piano bar around the corner. In the summer months, head up to their rooftop bar — one of the few in town — for unmatched skyline views. Staying a while? Make use of the on-site self-service laundry facilities.

AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown
50 Monroe Ave. NW

A brand experience imported from Spain via a partnership (read: acquisition) with Marriott in 2011, AC Hotels have started popping up across the nation, offering a modern “Euro-chic” experience. Each hotel draws inspiration from its host city — my favorite, AC on Miami Beach, exudes a more tropical feel. The newly opened AC Hotel Grand Rapids lobby feels like an upscale Herman Miller showroom, with Eames chairs in the library and intimate lounging spaces. You can’t miss the minimalist wraparound bar in the lobby — and the 130 rooms exude Scandinavian vibes. Free Wi-Fi and the city-center location make this a great place to put up your grown kids who “need their space.” It’s a win-win. They get to check out one of the coolest hotels in town, and you get more eggnog and one less bed to make.

Hyatt Place Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown
140 Ottawa Ave. NW

Hyatt lovers rejoice. You no longer have to hoof it from M-6 if you’re looking to stay at a Hyatt. The hotel just opened in September and boasts 160 suite-like rooms, which include a sofa bed — great for families with little ones who need the extra space. You can’t help but notice the sizeable windows; this is one hotel you’ll want to opt for the city view. In the morning, head across Pearl Street for a cup of coffee at homegrown Ferris Coffee.

Holiday Inn Downtown Grand Rapids
310 Pearl St. NW

A downtown hotel without the downtown prices. Who doesn’t love a Holiday Inn? They’re reliable — like the Toyota Camry of hotels. They have all the essentials you need (pool, hot tub, fitness center, free Wi-Fi), and they are great for kids (kids eat free). Plus, free parking, which is a steal downtown. It’s not the poshest option, but if price matters more than luxury, then this hotel is the place to go.

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton
433 Dudley Place NE

If you have visitors spending time with loved ones at one of the medical facilities on Medical Mile (Michigan Street), the Hampton Inn is a close, convenient option. It’s only a few blocks away from the Spectrum Health campus and offers free weekday breakfast. Or, for something heartier, check out The Omelette Shoppe a few steps away. Opened only three years ago, expect fresh, spacious rooms.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
187 Monroe Ave. NW

For the full luxury experience, visitors will love the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel — now a Hilton Curio Collection hotel. In the Pantlind wing, you can still experience a taste of the luxury that once resided in the former Pantlind Hotel in the early 1900s. For a more modern space, choose the tower rooms, which were recently updated and offer floor-to-ceiling views of the river. In the evenings, head down to the Lumber Baron Bar to warm up by the fireplace with an Old Fashioned in hand. If you’re looking to impress your visitors with fancy digs, this is the place to put them up.

83 Monroe Center NW

This boutique downtown hotel is a hidden gem. It’s nestled along Monroe Center in a renovated building dating back to the 1870s. Arguably one of the most sustainably minded hotels in the area, the interior is designed with reclaimed glass, wood and plastics — and the flooring is made of cork. The Michigan-made mattresses are hands down the most comfortable beds in town, layered with hypoallergenic bamboo linens. It’s a cozy spot for anyone in the family. Heck, maybe have everyone stay at your house and check yourself in here. You deserve it more than they do! GR

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