Step into this 304-room hotel, and you’ll find groups of students on laptops, professors and physicians gathering for meetings, and the global chatter of international guests. Light fixtures look like beakers or chemical compounds, staff members wear sweater vests, and vintage college photos grace the walls. Just beyond an indoor fire pit, black-and-white film footage of Gopher football games plays among framed pictures, art and books. The Commons embraces a brainy image but can’t ignore its sports heritage with TCF Bank Stadium within view and Williams and Mariucci arenas just blocks away.
When it’s completed in 2014, Light Rail Transit will deliver fans to the Stadium Village stop (in front of the hotel) and connect guests to Saint Paul, downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America and Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport. In the meantime, you can easily get around on foot or by bike. Look for green Nice Ride bikes near the hotel ($5 for 24 hours, or free if you park every 30 minutes at designated stations).
The Commons was a Radisson for almost 30 years before Noble House took over and spent $18 million on renovations that debuted in 2012. Details include pressed-tin ceilings, brick walls, eclectic furniture, globes, old books and games in lounge areas. The industrial schoolhouse decor feels more drab than hip in a few spots but creates a unique sense of place. There’s an Applebee’s and Starbucks on-site, and the lobby flows into the Beacon Public House restaurant, where reclaimed barn wood walls hint at the farm-to-table theme.
For lodging or dining, you’ll be paying prices on par with downtown Minneapolis locations. This may be the East Bank, but the surrounding campus makes it a high-demand hub. Room rates range from $119 to $400 for king or double-queen rooms and suites, all with refrigerators and coffeemakers. Self-parking is $15 per night.