My husband and I took an Iowa road trip to Amana at the beginning of December for a 24 hour kid-free getaway. It was spontaneous and glorious because we can FINALLY drop the kids off at Nana's or Grandma's now that we all live in the same city. We've been waiting almost 11 years for this!
Amana is a short drive East of Des Moines, Iowa - less than 2 hours away. I had recently discovered the brand new Hotel Millwright in Amana and was dying to visit this boutique hotel property on the site of Iowa's only remaining textile mill. (And yes, you can purchase the beautiful textiles from the hotel or at the showroom down the street!)
We have been very cautious about traveling and being in public indoor spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, so we intentionally booked this trip for a Thursday night stay and it was perfect! We saw some other guests, but it really felt like we had the property to ourselves. And I love that the property was decorated for the holidays - it was a wonderful way to kick off December and would be a great getaway for New Year's Eve in Iowa as well!
There are beautiful art installations throughout the hotel paying homage to the property's rich textile history. I loved discovering unique artwork around every corner and I'm only sharing a portion of it here so you can be surprised yourself when you visit. :)
Hotel Millwright Room Tour
We stayed in room 104, which was a corner room King Suite on the first floor. The room was huge! And I'm pretty sure the couch pulls out into a bed so this would be a great room if we bring the kids next time. We had a wet bar with a fridge, microwave and Keurig. (I love that our room was also decorated for the holidays!) The bed and the couch both faced a wall mounted TV and there was a writing desk in our large entry way. Hotel Millwright also wins for best privacy hanger ever. I always appreciate a good pun.
Can we talk about the size of the bathroom?! Definitely no fighting over this space. It had double sinks, a double shower head and it's own heater. And yes, all of the windows had privacy shades AND blackout shades. ;)
Lunch at The Indigo Room, Hotel Millwright
I had been craving the Wedge Salad from The Indigo Room since they posted about it on Instagram. I added chicken because I was starving (and because our server recommended it) and it was definitely the right call. Luke ordered the Turkey and Swiss with arugula on a hoagie with a side of couscous. His sandwich was so good we ate half of it before I could even take a photo.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, we ordered at the lunch counter by the bar and our friendly server, wearing a mask, brought out our food and drinks. The other guests were just leaving when our food arrived so we had the dining area to ourselves. We are very cautious about eating in public indoors and we felt safe having the dining area to ourselves. Otherwise we could have taken our lunch back to our room or eaten outside if it was warmer. Having a table by the window and no one else around was perfect though!
Exploring Amana, Iowa
After lunch, we set out on foot to explore the small historic town of Amana. Everything is within walking distance and it wasn't bad in the cold because we were popping into one shop after another which gave us a chance to warm up. From chocolate to blankets to furniture to clocks to antiques to gifts to wine to food to toys to Christmas decor galore, there is literally something for everyone. Most items are locally made and I love supporting small businesses so we purchased something at almost every stop.
About Amana, Iowa
Amana is one of the seven villages of the Amana Colonies, settled by Germans in the 18th century. The Amana Colonies are now a National Historic Landmark and one of America's longest-lived communal societies. There is plenty of history to learn about and walking tours available, though this trip we decided to explore (and shop) on our own. In addition to shops, showrooms, studios and restaurants, there are a few wineries that offer wine tastings (COVID-style) as well as Iowa's oldest operational brewery, Millstream Brewing Co.
An Impromptu Photoshoot
After a full afternoon of leisurely shopping (and a wine tasting for me) I saw a beautiful empty barn just off the main road that inspired a spontaneous photoshoot of each other. Luke never fails me when I need a subject to photograph. His poses and expressions always make me laugh - he's so good at switching between funny and serious. And he's way more patient for self-timer shots than our kids. He's pretty much becoming my new favorite model, LOL! (He's a good photographer too.) We seriously laughed so much while creating these photos. This was one of my favorite parts of the day.
From Golden Hour to Blue Hour to Happy Hour
We returned to Hotel Millwright just before sunset with our arms full of local goods we had purchased. There was no way I was going to stay inside as that Iowa sky transitioned from golden to pink to turquoise blue. I grabbed my camera and cruised around the property capturing her in all of her sunset glory before meeting Luke for a happy hour drink by the lobby fireplace. (This was another favorite part of my day.) I was so fulfilled and so relaxed and already couldn't wait to return to Hotel Millwright.
There really were other guests staying at the property. They were just very conveniently parked in the other lot and out of frame. (How did I get so lucky??)
Dinner at Millstream Brau Haus
All the restaurants in Amana are easily walkable from Hotel Millwright and since it was freezing outside we chose the closest option, Millstream Brau Haus right across the street. The large dining room wasn't very crowded around 8pm on a Thursday night. The tables were spread out, the staff were wearing masks and we were able to sit in the corner with no one near us, so we decided to eat there instead of getting our food to go. We ordered a pork sandwich, a chicken sandwich, fries and - since apparently we couldn't wait for all that food - a fresh, hot pretzel as an appetizer. Of course we didn't finish it all, but we love to try multiple things when visiting new places. It was all good!
Rise and Shine
We had a great night of sleep (without any kids crawling into our bed) and the next morning we slept in and slowly started our day with coffee from the Keurig in our room. I love it when hotels supply real mugs and in-room coffee. (As I really can't start moving until I have a cup.)
Breakfast in Bed
While I showered, Luke picked up breakfast from The Indigo Room counter as the hotel is not providing room service right now due to Covid-19. (They will as soon as it's safe to do so!) He brought me back the most beautiful and delicious Greek Yogurt Parfait with mixed berry compote and house granola - it was just begging to be photographed!
We'll Be Back!
After breakfast, we packed the car and checked out around 11am. We made a couple more stops in town before heading home and concluded that twenty-four hours in Amana is just enough to leave wanting more. It was a perfect couple's getaway, though we also want to bring the kids with us next time as there are things they will enjoy too.
Concluding with some silly selfies from my iPhone to show that we never have fun just the two of us... ;)
For the record, I was not invited to stay at Hotel Millwright. I didn't even ask to take photos until we arrived. We booked a room on our own and this is my account of our guest experience. I am trying to blog more frequently and it's easier to blog about things I'm passionate about, like travel, in addition to my client work. Since we just moved to Iowa we have a lot of exploring to do! I'm excited to share all the awesome places in the Midwest we'll surely discover. If you have any favorites we should check out send me an email or DM me on Instagram.