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OMNI Viking Lakes

2611 Nordic Way, Eagan, 651-689-9800, omnihotels.com

The story: Newly opened in 2020 as part of an ambitious development plan for the Minnesota Vikings' training campus in Eagan, Viking Lakes aims to be a destination for both Vikings fans and anyone in search of a luxury vacation experience. The hotel strives to wow visitors through sheer size and spectacle, boasting an enormous lobby entrance with Nordic-style carved wooden pillars and fur rugs, as well as great views from the west side overlooking the training stadium. Other views let guests look out over vast green woodlands or glimpse the Twin Cities skyline.

Rooms: A standard king room at Viking Lakes will run around $190 to $220 per night, and most have a connector door to facilitate family gatherings. Corner king suites, where entertaining areas start to appear as part of the package, go for about $400. Larger luxury suites connect to a lounging area for hosting watch parties, and include bathing tubs cleverly built into the already generous shower spaces. Amenities include a rec center, where Vikings players can sometimes be spotted before games, and an indoor pool.

Attractions: Accessible from Interstate 494, the hotel isn't far away from the Mall of America or Eagan's outlet mall, as well as several golf courses, country clubs and a disc golf course. Dining options include Kyndred Hearth, by James Beard Award-winning chef Ann Kim, and a pair of cocktail lounges, Ember & Ice, a casual bar and patio space, and Keras, which also offers small bites. The Ten Drops grab-and-go coffee shop is accessible from the lobby, as is a gift shop with Vikings merch and memorabilia. The Idlewild Spa offers massages, mani-pedis and thermotherapeutic experiences such as a hot tub, ice fountain and Himalayan salt room to round out the luxury experience.

The former chapel at St. Agatha’s Conservatory is now a bridal suite.
The former chapel at St. Agatha’s Conservatory is now a bridal suite.

RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII • richard.tsong-taatarii@startribune.com

Celeste of St. Paul

26 E. Exchange St., St Paul, 651-222-0848, celestestpaul.com

The story: The former St. Agatha's Conservatory of Music and Art, run by nuns, famously allowed its sisters to roller skate on the roof. Now the Beaux-Arts, National Historic Landmark building has been converted from student dorms and classrooms into an artsy, modern hotel that manages to combine an irreverent sense of humor with a respect for the former residents and their work.

Designer and general manager Carl Deeken (fittingly pronounced like "deacon") has reclaimed and reused as many elements from the old conservatory as possible. The chapel altar became the front desk, and original artwork by the sisters hangs in the halls. Several of the larger paintings were shipped from overseas by the sisterhood in the early 1900s, after their creators finished their training in Europe. The hotel is not a die-hard bastion of Catholic traditionalism, though: The purple-accented bar offers cocktails such as the "Sister Jane," named after one of the roller-skating nuns. There's also an enclosed area called "the Confessional" off to the side of the bar, for quieter gatherings. And Deeken says he offers rulers with Celeste's branding to visiting wives should their husbands misbehave.

Rooms: Celeste has six floors with a wide range of room sizes and rates, from simple, single-queen rooms for $95 a night to the extravagant and historical Chapel Suite, which boasts numerous artworks and a raised ceiling with stained-glass windows, for about $600.

Attractions: Celeste is just down the street from the State Capitol building, with a great view from the northwest side. It's a short walk to the History Theater and Minnesota Children's Museum, and within a few blocks of SteppingStone Theatre and Tin Whiskers Brewing, among other local establishments. The light-rail line is steps away.

Much of the building’s original art deco features were left intact.
Much of the building’s original art deco features were left intact.

Shari L. Gross • shari.gross@startribune.com

Rand Tower Hotel

527 Marquette Av. S., Mpls., 612-688-4500, randtowerhotel.com

The story: Rand Tower sits in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, with easy access to the city's culture and cuisine. A must-see for fans of art deco, it revels in subtle aviation references throughout the building's decor, honoring the memory of Rufus R. Rand, a World War I aviator and heir to the Minneapolis Gas Co., who built the tower in 1929. Careful observers will note the lion motifs — especially at the ground-level bar, named Whiskey and Soda after the two lions Rand's Lafayette Escadrille unit procured as pets for their French base. The hotel aims to make guests feel like aviators, flying high above Minneapolis in airy hallways graced with abundant natural lighting. Special note goes to the soon-to-open Rand Tower Club, a restaurant on the fifth floor (despite the name) with a stunning retractable glass ceiling, as well as a patio and firepit.

Rooms: Rooms offer large windows looking onto city streets below, cool art deco ornamentation and generous bathroom space. The most popular are the "Corner Kings," with the best natural lighting and slightly more space. Amenities include a 24-hour gym with a Peloton bike, ice and filtered water on each floor, and a high-end air filtration system. A family of four can expect to pay between $150 and $250 a night, depending on the size of the room and the view.

Attractions: Rand Tower's location offers easy access (including a skyway connection) to the city's best sites for food, sporting events and entertainment, as well as its own in-house restaurants, Whiskey and Soda and the Rand Tower Club. The tower itself is on the National Register of Historic Places, a bonus for architectural history buffs. 

Bruno Povejsil is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer.