In-Town Escapes

Check out from the craziness of the holidays—and into one of these local getaways

Arbor House

Vibe: Eco-friendly comfort

Digs: This welcoming inn has had an environmental bent since innkeepers John and Cathie Imes took it over fifteen years ago. Each of the inn’s eight guest rooms, divided among two buildings, is a unique mix of sustainable materials and natural style, while public spaces include a sauna, sunroom and living room complete with a movie library.

View: Trees and gardens made up of primarily native species surround the inn. From some rooms you may catch glimpses of the UW Arboretum or bustling Monroe Street.

Zzzz: Organic mattresses, pillows and comforters are combined with natural unbleached cotton linens, which are laundered using non-toxic and biodegradable cleaners. If you find yourself dreaming about the bedding after your stay, visit the inn’s website, where you can purchase the products.

Yum: Food at Arbor House is made from scratch—and with love, Cathie says. Breakfast and a roaring fire await guests in the great room, with Just Coffee, a local fair-trade co-op, providing the morning caffeine jolt. At night, an appetizer and beverage await you, with a dessert arriving later in the living room.

Pssst: The Tap Room is truly one-of-a-kind. A former tavern, this subterranean space boasts a king-size bed, claw-foot bubble bath and fireplace. Take advantage of the dartboard on the wall and challenge your mate to a friendly match.

3402 Monroe St., 238-2981,

Hilton Madison Monona Terrace

Vibe: Big-city sophistication

Digs: With its downtown location and fourteen floors, it feels like the towering Hilton is set in a busy metropolis. Opened in 2001 and outfitted in a modern-classic European style, the hotel connects to Monona Terrace via a skywalk. It’s home to 240 rooms, plus a restaurant, lounge, business center, indoor swimming pool and workout center.

View: Take your pick—would you rather enjoy views of Lake Monona or the Capitol and downtown? Both are stunning and show off the city’s urban and natural sides.

Zzzz: One king-size or two double beds are triple-sheeted with a throw at the foot (in place of the traditional bedspread) and topped with fluffy pillows. The look is clean and crisp. Plug your MP3 player into the room’s alarm clock to awaken to your favorite music.

Yum: Start your day with breakfast at the Olive Lounge. The Hilton buffet offers diet-friendly options, plus heartier fare and Starbucks coffee. For lunch or dinner, the Capitol ChopHouse features dishes made with locally grown foods. And don’t forget room service is available around the clock!

Pssst: Book a Capitol Suite, one of three luxury rooms on the hotel’s top floor. Enjoy incredible views through floor-to-ceiling windows, or soak in a Jacuzzi tub while watching TV on the bathroom’s flatscreen. And in the morning, dine at the exclusive Capitol Club.

9 E. Wilson St., 255-5100,

Mansion Hill Inn

Vibe: Historic charm meets modern luxury

Digs: This German Romanesque Revival home, built in 1857, underwent renovations after Trek Bicycle purchased it in 2008. Today, the nine-thousand-square-foot boutique hotel’s architectural detail is restored and celebrated. Its ten guest rooms combine historic character with clean-lined furniture, high-end electronics and upscale amenities.

View: Rooms offer expansive windows or French doors. But climb the circular staircase to the top of the house to take in 360-degree views of the city from treetop level.

Zzzz: Mansion Hill beds are positively inviting, with high-end Frette linens and thick duvets, all in soothing shades of creams and whites that complement the rooms’ architecture. Tall curtain panels mean the abundant natural light can be blocked when it’s time to give in to a nap.

Yum: A former guest room turned classic bar is where staff brew Ancora coffee and set out breakfast brought in from a local restaurant—perhaps nearby Marigold or Gotham Bagels—each morning. At night, come here for a glass of wine, a local beer or a nightcap and to soak up the hotel’s atmosphere.

Pssst: Ask for Room 7. The inn’s premiere room—and its most popular—is a spacious suite with a king-size bed and a private porch. And even cooler is the door to the bathroom, which is hidden behind a bookcase via a secret passageway.

424 N. Pinckney St., 255-0172,

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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