Photo courtesy of Hotel Metro. Built in a time when the Art Deco reigned supreme—and maintained in that ‘30s fashion when remodeled in 1996—Hotel Metro is the cool kid on the block, as far as downtown Milwaukee hotels are concerned. Long before old-is-new and vintage-is-modern were societal trends, Hotel Metro tapped into that design aesthetic, […]
Photo courtesy of Hotel Metro.
Built in a time when the Art Deco reigned supreme—and maintained in that ‘30s fashion when remodeled in 1996—Hotel Metro is the cool kid on the block, as far as downtown Milwaukee hotels are concerned. Long before old-is-new and vintage-is-modern were societal trends, Hotel Metro tapped into that design aesthetic, from the Metro Cab, an old London taxi that serves as a complimentary guest vehicle, to the distinctive stylistic choices of both the exterior and interior of the building.
Much to my surprise, the hotel is also home to Zen on Seven: a tropical oasis tucked up on the seventh floor, high above the busy streets and sidewalks, in which to do nothing but kick back and relax—of course, with drink in hand. Frequently used as a private event space, typically for small weddings and parties, this rooftop bar’s ambiance is perfectly suited for balmy summer nights.
It’s difficult not to blow past the bartender simply so you can get a glimpse of the view from outside, both the unique panorama of the city, as well as the outdoor décor. A small waterfall with streams cascading down into a petite pond is the highlight of the rooftop, surrounded by teak wood furniture of all shapes and sizes, coupled with smatterings of greenery filled with pops of colorful flowers. You’ll be on the receiving end of quite a shock when your eyes snap open with the realization that you’re still in Milwaukee.
Sipping-wise, Zen on Seven shares its drink selection with the hotel bar downstairs, Metro Lounge, offering an array of bottled beers and a handful of specialty cocktails, particularly martinis. If you get lucky like on the night I went, they will have one of your favorite drinks as a special (hello, $5 glasses of sangria). A tip: Make sure you really push for a drink menu or beer list, because they don’t seem to be readily available.
One hitch, and the only hitch, is that Zen on Seven is in a transition phase of sorts, given a recent spike in popularity on the nights the bar is open to the public. Bartender Matthew Vrabel told Milwaukee Magazine that Hotel Metro has started opening Zen more frequently, almost every night that isn’t reserved, though most weekends tend to be booked. Thankfully, this is a problem easily solved by calling ahead to the hotel before planning a night out there, which I strongly recommend to avoid a closed bar upon arriving.
This bar is the perfect place to get in our little concrete jungle, settling into a scene that seems as if it were plucked from Los Angeles and transplanted here in Wisconsin.
Zen on Seven has all the makings to become one of our best summer hotspots, especially if the temperature keeps trying to push into triple digits. They simply need to rise to the occasion to meet their influx of patrons.