Boutique Getaway in Delafield
Last Updated: 4/9/2013
By Pat Dillon
In Wisconsin, there are as many ways to get away from the masses as there are lakes and adjoining best-kept-secret villages. Women seeking refuge from the daily grind can throw a dart on the map to find a resort spa and its local accoutrements, grab their gal pals and head out to endless destinations far from the madding crowds. Couples in need of alone time can do the same while adding a romantic spin on yet undiscovered territory. Yet not every destination is self-contained, offering leisurely walks through quaint streets lined with quality goods and services while the car has its own respite with the valet.
But just a mile off of I 94 - 30 minutes west of Milwaukee, 45 from Madison - the Village of Delafield on Lake Nagawicka is just that spot. As a local kid growing up in nearby Nashotah, this was the town that had the essentials – a drug store, a grocery store and a couple of gas stations, plus our family doctor who still made house calls bearing a gift from his wife.
As I grew up, so did sleepy Delafield. House calls went to the wayside just as the area started to wake up and be seen. I watched this one time ugly duckling among the area’s more showy lake destinations bust out of its wall flower status and blossom into a Lake Country sweetheart. Downtown is now a bastion of old and new. Victorian architecture original to the area mixes effortlessly with the town’s newer acquisitions – artful 17th Century retro buildings reminiscent of those structured by America’s first European settlers. While the outlying area has scores of big box stores and restaurants, downtown Delafield has retained its provincial qualities, hosting locally owned boutiques and eateries and bistros. Its upscale accommodation, the Delafield Hotel, another Williamsburg reproduction, has spa affiliation and a first class restaurant and jazz bar attached, making this a perfect weekend destination.
That lone drug store has long been replaced by the Blue Iris, an eclectic boutique selling everything from retro lighting fixtures to women’s designer shoes. Directly across the street at Antiquity, housed in a Greek revival reproduction, you can buy custom-made 17th to 19th Century furniture from a celebrated maker. Step next door to Splendor for contemporary linens and gifts. Cross another street and Jamie Wilke Interiors has contemporary furniture and textiles. And the shops keep on going. But even with its new upscale persona, Delafield works at a simpler, slower pace while offering amenities familiar to the faster-paced and well-traveled.
When the Delafield Hotel arrived, so did this town of 6,800. Located one half mile from I-94, this hotel-restaurant-jazz bar brought downtown Delafield to luxury getaway status. Step inside its lobby and there is an immediate sense that comfort and quality follow. And they do. From the period furniture that greets guests at the door, to the Kohler spa fixtures in each bath, this hotel has taken its authentic Early American theme to cutting edge hospitality, including access to the neighboring be fitness and wellness center. And if guests would rather stay close to their room, the Delafield Hotel’s annexed restaurant and mellow jazz bar, Andrew’s, updates its own 18th Century décor with a state-of-the-art cuisine plus live weekend jazz. But there is no shortage of other spots around town to eat, or at which to just cocktail on a warm autumn evening.
- Wells Street Tavern is a modern Irish Pub and pool hall serving a great Friday night fish fry.
- Zin – Uncommon California Italian has big city sophistication while blending west coast and Italian cuisine.
- Fishbone’s Cajun and Creole on the lake bills itself as “Kick-ass, Lake Country Cajun”.
- Kurt’s Steak House is classic Wisconsin Supper Club.
- Milwaukee Street Traders is the requisite eclectic cool coffee house.
- Lumber Inn is the beyond popular breakfast joint.