We almost never stay at a hip hotel but decided to bunk at The Hotel Vetro, a sleek high rise overlooking Iowa city’s ped mall (a mixed bag, we discovered) during a February trip here to see/hear Rosanne Cash at University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium. (Nice to hear a female singer whose voice has held up as she’s gotten older.)
Although we decided to stay overnight because I was concerned about possible snow or ice-slicked roads common in February, the weather was actually fine. So we could have barreled home on Interstate 80 after the concert. But it was nice not to have to. I looked for our usual cheap Airbnb or old school bed & breakfast but the Hotel Vetro room ($144) was fairly comparable price wise so we went for it. It was fun to be right in the middle of the action downtown — except late at night when loud kids left the many bars. I could hear women’s piercing laughter and yelling in particular, especially near closing time at 2 a.m. (I developed a sudden intense cold so didn’t sleep most of the night, even without the drunk kids.)
We went to a few favorite shops – Textiles, Design Ranch, Active Endeavors,Iowa artisans…and made obligatory book purchases at Prairie Lights. Dinner at Pullman’s was excellent – crunchy slightly spicy fried chicken with soft biscuits and fresh honey, a burger sandwich with crispy fries and who knew they have homemade grapefruit for this sneezing customer?
Hancher is always a great. We love the new Caesar Pelli building, much more than the previous one destroyed by a flood. I’ve gotten to the age where I appreciate watching a band (in this case folk/Americana with five excellent musicians) from the comfort of a plush seat. It felt very relaxing, civilized. Okay, I’m getting old (although I did sit in a patch of dirt on a hillside last summer for the Hinterland festival outside Des Moines, listening to live music by Brandi Carlisle, Maggie Rogers, etc.)
Brunch was at the fabulous Rapid City Cidery, in an airy building made of old barn wood overlooking an apple orchard (Wilson’s) in the countryside just north of Iowa City. Operated by the James Beard Foundation-nominated former chef/owner of the now-closed Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon, Iowa, the cidery’s food did not disappoint. My omelette had perfectly cooked fresh fancy mushrooms, olives and feta. Dirck’s more standard fare was all about fresh ingredients prepared well – two bright yellow fried eggs, long pieces of crunchy bacon, roasted potatoes, a biscuit served with homemade apple butter. We need to get back there some day for dinner.