The Hotel Donaldson’s name alone sparks inquiry. It’s a unique name, to be sure, and a fitting one at that. Far more than an inn for weary travelers in which to lay their heads, The Hotel Donaldson is a trendy, art-inspired hangout and upscale dining experience located in downtown Fargo on 101 Broadway N.The Hotel Donaldson’s building was originally a lodge belonging to the International Order of Oddfellows, a fraternal organization that is still active today. It was damaged during the Great Fargo Fire of 1893, and was eventually sold and remodeled into a European-style hotel. Little changed about the hotel since its grand opening in the mid 1910’s until Karen Stoker bought it in 2000. She took her time to revamp the old haunt, but in 2003 The Hotel Donaldson would again open its doors. It was well worth the wait.
The Hotel Donaldson’s décor is marvelous. The bare bones of the building, exposed brick and steel beams, are festooned with brilliant modern art. The Hotel Donaldson is foremost an altar of all things Fargo: Seventy regional artists’ works are hung throughout, and the food is locally sourced as much as local sources permit it. In this way the hotel appeals to proud Fargons as well as out-of-towners who want to steep themselves in the local character.
Each of The Hotel Donaldson’s 17 rooms feature their own different artist and motif. They’re all featured on HotelDonaldson.com, so you may decide which room best fits your refined tastes before booking. Don’t go online expecting hotels’ cliché paintings of egrets in tall grass, lonely beach houses, or bowls of fruit — the pieces in The Hotel Donaldson were chosen to provoke and inspire, in the way that all great art should.
Its art is only a part of The Hotel Donaldson’s appeal. There are six chic meeting places there for business or pleasure. A proper summer fling demands the Sky Prairie, the hotel’s verdant rooftop patio. Winter nights are never squandered at Stoker’s, the hotel’s intimate lower level bar and event space. Whatever the time of year may be, however, guests may always expect their complimentary evening wine and cheese. Civilization demands no less.
While those popping in for cocktails and live music will love the HoDo Lounge, you’ll want to take a seat in the HoDo Restaurant in order to experience all the hotel has to offer. The restaurant starts dinner with a number of delicious options such as their traditional cheese and meat charcuterie platter, Cajun shrimp, or butter poached scallops. Beefier menu items include Korean bison hanger and grilled ribeye. Although they’re not quite local, Irish salmon and lobster fettuccine will unquestionably please seafood lovers. There are also fun desserts like “rainbows and unicorns” (you’ll have to see for yourself) and chocolate cream cake, so plan ahead when you order.
Words alone do little justice to an institution like The Hotel Donaldson, so if you haven’t explored it yet, head over to take in its splendor for yourself!
By Anthony Chiofalo