It may seem extravagant to shell out money for a hotel room in a metro area where you already have a comfy bed. But it's a refreshing getaway from the daily grind — without the airfare or a long car ride.

With a fresh crop of new hotels open, the Twin Cities have more tempting staycation destinations than ever. Many of them offer more than just a place to crash after a day of sightseeing. They are an experience — in distinctive surroundings with a sense of place.


Hotel Alma

528 University Av. SE., Mpls.

"Artisan" is an overworked adjective, but it does describe this tiny gem of a hotel at Restaurant Alma. Inspired by pensiones in Italy, chef/restaurateur Alex Roberts has added seven guest rooms (one handicapped-accessible), plus a casual cafe and bar in a former Dunn Brothers that serves as "the living room" for hotel guests.

The space: Housed in a 1905 structure (originally a firehouse), the guest rooms feature high ceilings, wood floors and interesting nooks. Rooms are furnished with pieces by a local maker, and decorated with textiles such as tufted Moroccan throws, and quirky wall art such as Japanese snowshoes, hand-inked calendars and ceramic fish; $205 for standard room with private bath, $275 for suite with sitting room and private patio; includes breakfast in room or at the cafe.

The food: For his convivial new cafe, Roberts, a James Beard-winning chef, has crafted a menu as inventive as the one in his long-running restaurant. Breakfasts are traditional with a twist, such as a scrambled egg sandwich with spicy creamed kale and smoked mushrooms. I savored the flavorful whitefish tartine (open-faced sandwich), a thick slab of grilled bread mounded with mustard-laced fish, topped with a fried egg and arugula. Brunch and dinner also served.

Walk to: Stone Arch Bridge, Mississippi River, Dinkytown, University of Minnesota.


Hewing Hotel

300 Washington Av. N., Mpls.

If cool surroundings top your wish list for a weekend getaway, you'll love this North Loop hot spot where an 1890s farm implement warehouse has been reborn to deliver "an authentic Minnesota experience." The Paul Bunyan-meets-Ralph Lauren interiors evoke luxury Minnesota-style — chic, yet cozy, rustic and familiar.

The space: The lobby and lounge, with its beckoning fireplace, have an industrial modern vibe — old brick, metal, original timbers and reclaimed wood — along with modern takes on Minnesota motifs, such as deer, loons, spruce trees and gilded stumps as cocktail tables. The guest rooms also have original timber ceilings and exposed brick walls, plus modular furniture by local BluDot; $169 to $189 for king room. Workout facilities.

The food: Tullibee, the restaurant headed by James Beard-nominated chef Grae Nonas, serves an ever-changing seasonal menu with nods to the North Woods and Minnesota's Nordic roots. This is adventurous food, with offerings such as elk tartare, duck-fat fries and pickled vegetables. We tried the duck, glazed with a bone and maple sauce, the Atlantic cod served on parsnip purée, and an interesting take on lefse, served with savory mutton confit.

Walk to: North Loop shops and restaurants, downtown, Target Field, Target Center.


Radisson Red

609 S. 3rd St., Mpls.

This is not your Grandma's hotel. Radisson's new brand is "inspired by art, music and fashion" and designed to appeal to the "millennial mind-set." The colorful casual lobby and bar, with its gigantic mural by Twin Cities artist Adam Turman, is your first clue. And there's no front desk — guests can download an app that allows them to skip the whole check-in rigmarole and use their phones as key cards. (There is someone available to help those who lack tech savvy.)

The space: Rooms are modern and minimalist, with a nod to Minnesota — murals by local artists and a stylized stag mosaic in each shower. Instead of desks with drawers, each room has its own "picnic table" with one chair for lounging, another for working. The huge windows are equipped with blackout shades and privacy screens, so you can shut out the city when you want to. Tech lovers will delight in abundant outlets, USB ports and TVs that connect to your iPhone or iPad; $139 in winter, $189 in summer. Workout facilities. Pet-friendly.

The food: Inspired by "global street fare," OUIBar + KTCHN offers casual snacks, such as vegan croquettes, ham tots and duck-fat popcorn. Our happy hour crew sampled the roasted beets with goat cheese, edamame and a hearty chicken waffle sandwich, washed down with local craft beer.

Walk to: U.S. Bank Stadium (via skyway), Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum.


AC Hotel

401 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

Want to pretend you're in Barcelona? Visit this sleek European-style hotel in the heart of downtown. A brand that originated in Spain and was acquired by Marriott, AC Hotels caters to independent travelers who want a little luxury but don't want to pay for a lot of services they won't use.

The space: Modern sophistication — all clean lines and calm shades of espresso and creamy latté. The lobby features modern art by local artists, and is stocked with arty books. Guest rooms are streamlined and modern; bathrooms include motion-sensor lighting and rainfall shower heads; $150 to $180. Workout facilities.

The food: The hotel offers a European-style breakfast buffet of cheeses, fresh-cut meats, egg tarts, bread, croissants and coffees, $17. Evening fare in the sleek lounge is Spanish-style, featuring tapas (appetizers). Skip the roasted fava beans (unless you want a salty bar snack); try the tomato and olive oil grilled toast and manchego cheese with quince paste.

Walk to: Downtown shopping (via skyway), theaters, Target Center, Target Field.



701 Concord St., South St. Paul

Staying in a dense urban center isn't everyone's cup of cocoa. If you want a getaway that's close to the Mall of America, consider the freshly remodeled enVision, a boutique brand of Choice Hotels. The exterior still says 1970s chain hotel, but the interior has gotten a makeover inspired by vintage travel and South St. Paul's meatpacking history.

The space: Stockyards become a surprisingly appealing design theme — mounted steerheads, a cowhide rug, a mural by a local artist and vintage photos in the lobby, plus a front desk made of old suitcases. Guest rooms feature accent walls of vintage maps, headboards of reclaimed wood and old steamer trunks as coffee tables; $129 to $179.

The food: The hotel's restaurant, Against the Grain, offers hearty comfort food. We sampled the generously portioned roast chicken with garlic mashed potatoes, and a wild mushroom stroganoff in a zesty horseradish cream sauce. A hot breakfast buffet comes with the room.

Drive to: Mall of America (15 minutes), downtown St. Paul (12 minutes).


Hyatt Place

180 E. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul

Want to explore downtown St. Paul with the kids? Check out this brand-new hotel inside five floors of the old 1934 Post Office building in lively Lowertown. All rooms come with pullout sleeper sofas, so you can sleep five or even six, and dogs are welcome.

The space: The hotel shares its elegant Art Deco entrance with an apartment complex. Inside the airy lobby are the old post office's original marble floors and vintage doors used as room dividers. The rooms are modern in style, with soaring 16- and 18-foot ceilings and 13-foot windows; $149 to $199 for a king or double room; $189 to $260 for a suite with living room and full kitchen. Workout facilities.

The food: A hot breakfast buffet comes with the room. No full-service restaurant, but kid-friendly eats such as nachos, burgers and quesadillas can be ordered up 24/7 in the lobby area.

Walk to: CHS Field (home of the St. Paul Saints), Union Depot, Lowertown restaurants, the Science Museum and Xcel Energy Center.