Book Butler, Commons Hotel
Located on the University of Minnesota campus, the 304-room Commons Hotel celebrates a fun “geek chic” ambience with a host of Revenge of the Nerds design motifs and service programs.
The schoolhouse aesthetic features local beer served in beakers, dry ice martinis, in-room art galleries with personal book butlers, and a turndown service that leaves Aristotle quotations instead of chocolate.
“Geek chic is hot now,” says GM Duane Rohrbaugh. “Our uniforms incorporate skinny ties and argyle sweaters. The staff answers the phone, ‘Discover your inner geek, my name is Duane.’”
The hotel’s attributes that encourage networking start with a fire pit in the lobby. In the 20,000-sf of meeting space, there’s a 5,300-sf ballroom where groups compete in spelling bees and Jenga games. The decor echoes the theme with centerpieces designed by UofM’s physics department such as kinetic balls and magnet sets.
For giggles, hire a Mad Scientist comedian to both educate and entertain your attendees.
Rohrbaugh takes pride in the six smaller meeting areas designed to encourage collaboration. “What we’re looking for in today’s world is a break that feeds mind and body,” he says. “In our six Think Tanks, chalkboards are wheeled in, commonality is promoted and people let their guard down.”
Adding to the fun, Smarties candy and Smart Water are among the snacks served in beakers and test tubes. In the evenings, the bar staff hosts Alchemist Mixology classes.
Though geek remains top-of-mind, the vibe in the public spaces and guest rooms is less lab-like and more cozy collegiate. Rooms feature leather Chesterfield chairs/ottomans and New York Times bestsellers delivered by the “Book Butler.”
Noble House Hotels & Resorts chose the name “The Commons” to honor the nearby university, while integrating some of the smart livability standards around Minneapolis. This is a city with scads of alternative transit solutions including one of the country’s best bike routes, citywide WiFi and serious energy conservation initiatives. There are dozens of outdoor sports options throughout a world-class park system and a thriving performing arts community.
The Commons’ offsite options include the Science Museum of Minnesota, tours of the campus Sherlock Holmes exhibit and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Bookworms can build their own hardbacks at the Loft Literary Center.