Hello, Lora

Inside a room at the Lora Hotel in Stillwater, Minnesota.
The Lora’s rooms are inspired by Scandinavian design trends (Courtesy Lora Hotel)

Locals daytrip to Stillwater for its charming streetscapes lined with antiques stores and used-book shops, as well as its historic riverside. On the south end of Main Street, however, something new beckons. Where the Joseph Wolf Brewery once sat in front of Stillwater’s mysterious caves (as did several Italian restaurants) are walls of freshly burnished golden brick, black-rimmed floor-to-ceiling windows, patios for coffee drinking and fine dining, and a placard announcing Lora—a new boutique hotel.

Carved out of the limestone cliffs by the Minneapolis architecture and design firm ESG, Lora brings the hidden history of Stillwater—buried within rock, concrete, and centuries of folklore—vibrantly into the present. ESG interior designer Bridget Mugan and her team delved into Stillwater’s cultural history to come up with a singular design narrative for the hotel. Lora, Mugan explains, is an abbreviation of Lorelei, the water spirit of German fairytales and myth, who is featured in a hand-cut paper artwork on a stone wall in the elevator lobby.

The designers’ whimsical, folkloric approach includes coat hooks in the shapes of hare ears and deer antlers, and random doors painted red in homage to the eyes of the loon. In a nod to the area’s Scandinavian heritage, some rooms without extant timber beams or brickwork are painted a Swedish blue. Carpets in a custom Scandinavian pattern cover the floors. Local art graces the walls. Blankets from Faribault Woolen Mills adorn the beds. The Box Group in Anoka, which is owned by Corey Burstad, the project’s developer, built the simple, modern casegoods.

Lora’s restaurant, Feller, has a menu inspired by a “hunter-and-gatherer” theme, wallpaper murals by She She, and a party room with a window looking into the caves. The Long Goodbye Bar features craft cocktails. MADE, a coffee and juice bar, offers a variety of beverages for visitors to sip on. Behind the lobby desk is a large opening into the caves, not yet available to the public, but beckoning visitors into the mysteries of Lora.

More information about Lora.

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