The Pfister Hotel Review – Old-World Elegance in the Heart of Milwaukee

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From the moment you enter the lobby of The Pfister, there is no doubt that it is Christmastime. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hotel wear its holiday so gracefully or so grandly. From the enormous bedecked tree in the lobby to the piano music flowing out of its gleaming lounge to the sold-out afternoon weekend tea service, The Pfister celebrates the Christmas season with a combination of taste and enthusiasm that is hard to beat.

The Pfister 2018 Artist in Residence Stephanie Schultz at work


Beyond its excellence at tidings of comfort and joy, The Pfister also boasts extensive credentials as both a curator and patron of the arts. Boasting the largest collection of Victorian art of any hotel in the world, The Pfister also supports the local art community by offering a year-long residency each year. The program, now in its 10th year, provides the artist-in-residence a space steps from the lobby in which to continue their creative work, sell unique pieces only available to hotel guests, and lead guided tours of the hotel’s expansive collection. Entering the last half of her residency is Stephanie Schultz, who took time out of her busy day, which began at 5:00 AM with a fashion shoot at the historic Miller Caves, to talk to me about her experience at The Pfister.

A Stephanie Schultz creation, ready to wear

Schultz shared that upon earning the residency, she began by making the space her own, bringing in pieces she found at estate sales and consignment shops. Once established, she began making scarves, shawls, and men’s ties out of digitally printed photos taken around the hotel of the turn-of-the-century decor, including the painted ceiling of the lobby. Stephanie will have items available at The Pfister’s popular Holiday Marketplace, taking place December 8th and 9th. Stephanie’s future will be full in 2019 as she prepares for her finale show on March 15th (both VIP and general admissions will be available soon).

Petit filet with pan roasted wild mushrooms

The art at The Pfister is not only on the walls and on the dress forms, but also in their food: their top-rated Mason Street Grill has a wood-fired grill turning out incredible entrees, most notably cooked-to-perfection steaks. If you’re a fan of being close to the action, the Mason Street Grill has a chef’s counter that puts you so close you can feel the heat off that grill as the busy staff turn out dinner service. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their superb cocktail menu as well. Good news for theater lovers: there are packages available to have a special prix-fixe dinner and attend Milwaukee Rep’s annual production of A Christmas Carol available on upcoming weekends. For more information, visit the Mason Street Grill website.


King-sized bed with antique headboard

The rooms in the original Pfister are spacious and, no surprise given the engagement to the arts, decorated with unique paintings, antique fixtures, and fashionable accent pieces, along with the multi-outlet charging station cleverly disguised as a carved treasure box. The bathroom is stocked with personal toiletry items branded by their onsite spa (I loved the tangerine-scented lotion). And after a thoroughly rainy day in Milwaukee and a filling dinner–which also included some less photogenic, but very rich and delicious cream of potato soup–it was bliss to settle into the king-sized bed.

Vanity stocked with spa-quality toiletries

However, the most striking moment of my stay at The Pfister was returning to the lobby after a Saturday night out to find that the lounge and bar were as full as they could hold with revelers. Conversation and laughter spilled out in every direction, while people took turns having their pictures taken, individually or in groups, with the ceiling-high tree. I can only imagine that the upcoming weeks will be filled with more and more joy.

For more information about reservations and events, visit The Pfister Hotel’s website.

The Pfister Lion in his holiday finery





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