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Whistling Swan Inn
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Reviews (91)
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Reviewed 18 May 2009

My husband and I have visited the Whistling Swan a half-dozen times over the last few years and keep coming back. We travel quite a lot - mostly to larger cities or foreign destinations - but find nothing quite so relaxing as a stay at the Whistling Swan. During our most recent visit, we vowed to check Trip Advisor to submit a review and see what others say about our favorite Inn.

I could write a lot about this lovely Inn, but will try to keep it as short and sweet as possible. I think the history of the place is half of what makes it interesting - it was originally built as an Inn in Marinette, WI in 1887, but was brought across the frozen Green Bay in 1907 to become part of Dr. and Mrs. Welcker's Resort and Casino. (The lobby is full of old pictures of the area, and the staff is happy to tell you about its history.) This makes the Whistling Swan less like a B&B and more like a quaint Inn with B&B services. And, although the rooms are smaller (as was the fashion when the Inn was built), they are well-appointed with comfortable beds, quaint furnishings and private bathrooms, complete with claw-foot tubs, pedestal sinks, and tile floors.

And, yes, the walls are rather thin and the hallway is not carpeted. If you're paying attention (and spending a lot of time in your room), you will probably hear the other guests come and go. However, keep in mind that Door County is a place for outdoor activities and relaxation. Very few restaurants are open past 10:00 so it's unlikely anyone will be coming back to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning! Besides, other guests will value privacy and quiet as much as you do - those that don't, may be asked to leave. In 6 or 7 stays at the Inn, we've never found noise to be an issue.

The restaurant is extraordinary. We made the mistake of passing it by on our first trip - I guess we were thinking we wanted to see/experience more of the County and shouldn't eat where we slept, so to speak. We won't make that mistake again. This is the best place we've eaten in Door County (although Saveur in Bailey's Harbor was a treat last year), and one of the best places we've eaten, period. Our recent meal included a well-seasoned hanger steak served with ramps, morels and fiddlehead ferns, a cheese and chaucuterie plate laden with Wisconsin cheeses, and a delicate and flavorful turnip soup. (We were too stuffed - as always - to try the desserts!)

I've been surprised to read other reviews that complain about the cleanliness of the hotel, or point out that the hotel looks "tired". We've always been impressed by the cleanliness of the Inn (rooms, lobby and restaurant included), and as an owner of a 100+ year old house, I'm amazed by how well they've been able to maintain the site while keeping true to its historic roots. The Whistling Swan has somehow managed to walk the fine line between maintaining its sense of history, while updating its interior for a more contemporary edge.

Finally, we come to the staff. Everyone we have ever encountered at the Whistling Swan has made us wonder if we, too, should become Innkeepers. They seem to truly enjoy the experience of providing people a home away from home. That being said, they're also more than happy to keep their distance if you're really just trying to get away from everyone and everything. This is the main reason we keep coming back - the Whistling Swan provides the personal service (continental breakfast, knowing your name and accommodating special requests, etc) of a B&B, without the sometimes stifling closeness you feel when you're staying in a smaller accommodation.

Door County has been a vacation destination for over 100 years, and many of the accommodations date to that time period. Don't expect multi-headed showers, rooms wired for wi-fi, or king-sized beds. They didn't have those 100 years ago, and they don't have them now. But if you want to get away from it all and truly slow down for a while, the Whistling Swan is one of the best getaways for your money.

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank WITraveller251
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 January 2009

We have to admit to some doubts when we booked the Swan. It's been 16 years since we'd been there, or to Door County for that matter, and we were arriving on a week night for a couple of days cross country skiing when the Swan's restaurant would be closed. We anticipated, given the passage of time and the change of ownership, that one of the reviews on this site was probably correct when it said the property was tired. In some respects this has always been true. But in our minds, it simply means that If you really want grand luxe, Door County is probably not the place for you. That being said, it was our observation that the area has really come up in the world in terms of amenities. In place of the standard fish, potatoes, or t-bone steaks that used to be so prevalent, there are some really good restaurants that we believe could hold their own anywhere. See e.g. Inn at Kristopher's in nearby Sister Bay. There's a wonderful spa about 10 minutes away at the north end of Ephraim (Spa on Sacred Ground) where we got massages after skiing. And the Swan continues to be a great B&B with the feel of an old hotel. (Think: any of the small boutique hotels in Paris, but with larger rooms)

The good: the lobby/living room has a wonderful working fireplace that begs you to sit and read.

The bad: you can't do it because most of the lamps that used to be there have been removed. There simply is not enough light. A few extra lamps with more than the standard 40 watt bulb would solve the problem. That done, the lobby would become an absolute treat in mid-winter and alone worth the price of admission.

The good: the room (No. 7) was tastefully done, the bed was magnificent. We slept wonderfully. Really neat old claw foot tub w/ shower arrangement. Great couch in an oversize room.

The bad: Not enough light to read, either on the couch or in bed. (Is this part of the "green" movement? If it is, let us off the train!) The upstairs corridor could use a carpet runner to keep the noise down, though not particularly a problem for us as we were the only guests.

What ultimately made our trip was the service. What a pain to have to keep your property open in the dead of winter for one couple! But the manager (and only employee on site), Scott, couldn't have been more helpful. He arrived at 6:30 every morning to start the fire in the fireplace and make really great coffee that was ready in the lobby when we came downstairs. He helped us with every arrangement we had to make. He made a point of shoveling out and brushing off our car when it snowed overnight, ...and we hadn't asked. In short, he made us feel right at home.

We still think the Swan is a great place for a getaway.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank gobelins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 January 2009

Our recent winter weekend at the Whistling Swan Inn was fantastic in every way. The decor and atmosphere throughout the inn were comfortable and casual-elegant. It has a clean look with earth-tone colored walls and tasteful decor (it's not too 'country' or overly decorated with knick-knacks like at other inns we've visited).
The service was very friendly, helpful and professional. The restaurant must be one of the best in Door County - the meals were creative, fresh and thoroughly enjoyable. We also enjoyed excellent in-room massages.
Winter is a nice time at the inn, with few people, attentive service and cozy fires in the lobby fireplace.
We had a wonderful experience and would highly recommend the Whistling Swan for anyone traveling to Door County.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank smd1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 October 2008

The Whistling Swan is a nice place, nicer then other places we've seen in the area. However, it's not 5 star. I was expecting more of a friendly open lobby where guests could sit and talk. Not the case, more a of waiting area for the restaurant. Wood floor in hallway between rooms could be very loud. Our room was nice. We liked having our own bath. I was also expecting breakfast to be more of a social event, which it wasn't. Just your basic continental breakfast really. Rolls, muffins, fruit, etc., a bit of a letdown here as well. Parking good. Staff friendly and helpful. Restaurant was good, a bit over priced.

  • Stayed: October 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank mjd1267
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 September 2008

This inn is tired and the upkeep and general maintainance is poor and lacking.

We will never go back.

Save your money and book somewhere else! There are many better B & B's in Door County.

Overall impression... The Whistling Swan has seen better days!

  • Stayed: September 2008
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4  Thank Lettin-you-know
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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