This blog post is extremely unsponsored.
Grand Marais looks like a neighborhood that Michael could have designed to be The Good Place.
It’s idyllic. It’s super Scandinavian. People wearing sweaters and holding ice cream cones wander the quiet streets. Someone might wander by holding a freshly caught fish.
The mention of “Grand Marais” throws Minnesotans into a tizzy, a dreamy state of frenzied joy. Those who have been will tell you about the World’s Best Doughnuts (yes, that’s what the shop is called), suggest you eat some lake fish, and share the best places to hike.
After one visit, I’m now one of these people.
The Best Western looked more majestic online. I almost didn’t recognize it when Siri directed us into the parking lot.
Our room was quite ordinary and smelled mildly of wet dog; a busy gas station buzzed next door. It wasn’t the the most expensive option, nor was it the least.
Still, there were many pluses: Friendly staff, a lobby as modern and nicely appointed as pictured, and a spectacular view. We left our screen door open while we napped, lulled to sleep by the pulse of Lake Superior’s waves.
If you are like us (far from rustic), you will find all of the modern amenities including a fitness center, wifi, HBO, a large mini-fridge, and a small bar with some local taps. Artists’ Point, shops, and eating/drinking establishments are located within a few blocks of the hotel.
What I really want to talk about is the complimentary hotel breakfast buffet.
It’s not your average chain hotel breakfast. You know, the kind where you shuffle around on sticky floors peering at a spread of Yoplaits, biscuits with questionable gravy, and a steam table of eggs heated in a plastic bag. Maybe there’s a waffle station if you’re really lucky.
No. This is not that kind of buffet.
Both mornings, we were delighted to find pans of warm eggbake cooked with cheese, broccoli. and ham. The second morning yielded ordinary potato chunks. However, the first brought a glorious pan of gooey cheesy potatoes. You know, the kind like our moms might serve at Easter brunch. I dug into that with glee.
Inside a tortilla warmer we found triangles of lefse next to shakers of cinnamon and sugar. A sign decorated with the Norwegian flag explained lefse. Store-bought lefse is typically thick and has the weird taste of a raw sandwich wrap. This lefse was of good quality with a pleasant flavor and texture- not what I’d expect to find at a complimentary breakfast buffet.
A typical selection of yogurts, breads and pastries and juices from the machine accompanied the buffet, but also grapes carefully cut into little clusters and fresh pineapple wedges.
Needless to say we were impressed by the thoughtfulness of the spread.
When people mention Grand Marais, we, too, will rave about eating lake fish at Angry Trout and World’s Best Doughnuts. But we’ll also speak wistfully of that beguiling breakfast buffet at the Best Western.