The Hillside Waterfront Hotel Offers Modern Luxury in Door County WI

Home >> Travel >> Hotels and Resorts >> The Hillside Waterfront Hotel Offers Modern Luxury in Door County WI

I hadn't visited water-wrapped Door County, Wisconsin in at least a decade. And we had spent very little time in the seaside village of Ephraim during that trip. I breathed deeply as I drove into Ephraim and my shoreline view became unobstructed. Boats of all shapes and sizes lined the waterfront and unusually warm breezes entered my open windows. I was excited to experience understated luxury and coastal views from my room at The Hillside Waterfront Hotel.

Landmark Property Receives a Facelift

The story of this iconic lodging property began when Norwegian immigrants, Martin and Maria Oleson and their family, purchased a log cabin from Reverend Andreas Iverson. They gradually added bedrooms, until their lodging became Hillside Hotel, by 1901.

From 2002 to 2010, Jim and Claire Webb operated the hotel following a massive renovation. Finally, local realtor Diane Taillon refreshed and reopened the property five years ago. This refresh includes extensive landscaping with assistance from an Art Institute of Chicago gardener. Two beautiful multi-bedroom cottages also offer welcoming accommodations for families or small groups.

As is common in the travel industry, Wander With Wonder sometimes receives complimentary products and services. Wander also earns income from ads and affiliate links on our site. Some of those links are for Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, Wander earns from qualifying purchases. None of these practices influence our reporting, but we believe in full disclosure. If you click an ad or affiliate link on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. We thank you for your help - it is what keeps Wander bringing you great content. For further information please visit our legal page.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Hillside Waterfront Hotel is also a Select Registry property. In addition, the hotel appears in Condé Nast Traveler's pamphlet, The Best Resort Getaways from Chicago.

Understated Luxury at The Hillside Waterfront Hotel

Inside the main building of The Hillside Waterfront Hotel, a gorgeous wood staircase leads to five suites along a narrow hallway. My suite, the Mayflower Room, had fresh white walls, cornflower blue-accented window seat pillows, and fabric shades. Two blue wing chairs faced a gas fireplace and TV cabinet.

Window seat in The Hillside Waterfront Hotel

My white room with blue accents was light-filled and cozy. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

The dresser held a Keurig machine plus tea bags and bottled water. A small cutting board and covered knife sat nearby. A corkscrew laid near two small wine glasses.

Monarc Duffel Bags

In the bathroom, a spacious shower featured a built-in seat. I found liquid soap, shampoo, and conditioner housed in both wall dispensers and miniature bottles. Makeup and nail polish wipes, a shower cap, and a nail file were other amenities.

I especially liked the suite's sliding glass and screen door. The adjoining porch spanned the entire hotel's width. Views of Ephraim's calm water beckoned each time I entered the room. There were even small towels designated for wiping down porch furniture.

At night, I lounged in a cozy robe while winding down. Then I slept amid luxury linens, with my windows and door open.

Porch door at The Hillside Waterfront Hotel

A sliding glass/screen door for the suite led to a long porch and gorgeous views. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Beyond Guest Suites

On the main floor of The Hillside Waterfront Hotel, visitors can comfortably sit along the county’s longest front porch. Across the lobby, an upholstered couch and chairs beckon guests to the spacious library. Dozens of books fill floor-to-ceiling shelves. And guests may enjoy breakfast on a nearby patio. It’s served in a bright, airy dining room full of antique-style furniture and a brass chandelier.

The library at the Hillside Waterfront Hotel With book-lined shelves, the library is cozy and inviting. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Two beautiful multi-bedroom cottages also offer welcoming accommodations for families or small groups.

Eats and Drinks at The Hillside Waterfront Hotel

Available from 8:30-10 a.m., breakfast includes fruit, yogurt, locally made pastries, and granola, plus juice and coffee. Guests may also take breakfast trays to their rooms. Complimentary coffee and tea are always available in the library. Visitors may also request ice and buckets.

My balcony provided views of iconic dining destinations, too. One day, our group devoured burgers, fried cheese curds, home-brewed root beer, and enormous sundaes at Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream. The classic eatery has operated since 1906.

Fried cheese curds and home-brewed root beer floats were several tasty choices at Wilson's. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

We also savored a Door County tradition begun by early settlers—the fish boil dinner. A sudden, tall burst of flame engulfed a cooking pot at the nearby Old Post Office Restaurant before servers piled plates with boiled white fish, potatoes, and onions.

Liquid butter, crisp coleslaw, and cherry pie à la mode completed the meal. Fish boils are a big part of reinventing Ephraim’s early 1900s post office.

Door County fish boils are a longstanding tradition among locals and visitors. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

On my last evening at The Hillside Waterfront Hotel, I again viewed calm water, the quaint town, and the ever-changing sunset, from my porch. Photos will have to suffice until my next visit.

Sunset view from the balcony of The Hillside Waterfront Hotel

There were gorgeous sunset views from my hotel balcony. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

RoamRight travel insurance

Be sure to check out what other Wander writers have experienced in Door County and as they travel throughout Wisconsin.

I hadn't visited water-wrapped Door County, Wisconsin in at least a decade. And we had spent very little time in the seaside village of Ephraim during that trip. I breathed deeply as I drove into Ephraim and my shoreline view became unobstructed. Boats of all shapes and sizes lined the waterfront and unusually warm breezes entered my open windows. I was excited to experience understated luxury and coastal views from my room at The Hillside Waterfront Hotel.

Written by Lisa Waterman Gray

A Kansas City-area resident, Lisa Waterman Gray has savored Quebec’s finest cuisine, ridden in a pickup before a Kansas buffalo herd, and toured natural Arizona landmarks with Native American guides. In June 2011, 18 months of driving, research, and writing ended with national publication of Lisa’s book, An Explorer’s Guide: Kansas. During October 2014, she was a U.S. delegate for Terre Madre and Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy – a conference for Slow Food International. Lisa has written for Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle (a Canadian magazine), USA Today.com, Midwest Living, four AAA magazines, and other clients. Visit her online at http://www.lisawatermangray.com/.

You May Also Like…

0 Comments

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest food, wine & travel updates! We look forward to having you Wander with us.

You have Successfully Subscribed!