Hotel review: Inn on Ferry Street, Detroit, USA


Detroit’s Inn on Ferry Street is a welcoming delight of an overnight address. Or, rather, six addresses. It’s practically an entire street! Comprised of a constellation of six separate century-old homes on a slow, leafy street off main thoroughfare Woodward, you’re sure to be able to find one that suits your colour scheme—and if you’d prefer a whole house and think nothing of nabbing three to nine rooms for the night, you’ve still got plenty of choice. Rooms range from cosy attic perches, placed perfectly for spying on comings and goings, to roomy suites nestled in carriage houses, set back off the street.

We were in a main house room, above check-in and the breakfast room, which saved us from having to brave brisk winds each morning (pleasing!), dashing to and from the extremely generous breakfast spread. Our room was pink. The colour was pretty much what I imagine the innards of a whale must look like. I imagine that sort of thing way more than you’d think. Blame my Bible-heavy Catholic upbringing. Anyway, definitely more “whale innards” than “salmon.” Well, unless you’re someone in the habit of seriously overcooking your fruits de mer or have recently netted a salmon crimson with fury at the prospect of being eaten. Let’s call it “New England Berry Puree” instead. It was a much more appealing room than I have made it sound. Sorry for mentioning whale innards.

I particularly enjoyed that the bathroom soap was a green tea and willow concoction that declared itself the “finest bathing soap.” This description immediately made me want to don a demure Victorian bathing costume and trot off in search of the nearest bathing pavilion. Detroit being a wee bit short on such swimming institutions, I made do with a swift shower and an amble over to the Detroit Institute of Art, conveniently situated about 100 feet from the Inn’s back door.

Spotted at breakfast: a member of seminal Goth band Bauhaus! Wearing shades! Eating granola! Spotted at check-in and at various inconvenient times by the breakfast waffle station: a glowering minivan-load of Ontario lesbians! Including at least two carrying what appeared to be feathered crow costumes! The views from our chamber’s bay window were of the adjacent mansion and the DIA’s and the Inn’s car parks, which allowed excellent spying opportunities as we attempted to work out why a sextet of frowny Canadian ladies were carting crow costumes about with such grave expressions. Were they in town for an ornithology convention, early Halloween hijinks or some feathered flight of fancy? To make a statement about cross-border migratory policies affecting rooks and ravens? Who knows? Alas, our fellow guests were far too frowny to be interrogated about their avian accoutrements.

More perturbing than coinciding with angry ornithologists or Goth demigods on our repeated jaunts down to make the most of the constant supply of coffee and cake in the breakfast room (Cake! 24 hours a day!) was the fact that Google’s first suggested auto-complete for the inn was “Inn on Ferry Street haunted”. I debated whether to tell A or not, but when I did, she was just hugely relieved that I hadn’t told her we were sharing sleeping quarters with any nasty creepy crawlies. While it’s distinctly possible that we simply have the supernatural sensibilities of a brick and so were not in tune with any ethereal inhabitants of the inn, we didn’t encounter anything remotely spooky or suspicious, other than the fact that at least three other breakfast guests leapt to their feet any time we even thought about approaching the waffle maker.

Summary? Go! You’ll like this place. An easy place to overnight and make the most of a first visit to Detroit.

Who would this hotel suit?


*The Inn would also win points with my parents, who would have been pleased by the classical music playing gently in the common areas of the inn and by the proximity to the DIA.

*People who travel with their own life-size crow costumes.

*Goth legends.

*Grown-ups, in general, whether solo, couples or friends.

The Summary:


*Kaleidoscopic array of clientele. You’ll fit in, no matter how weird you are.

*Plethora of pleasing 1930s/Arts and Crafts-era features, from beds and fireplaces to artworks.

*Tasty local Great Lakes coffee and an array of cake served 24 hours a day. Cake!

*Breakfasts served till 11:30 on weekends—bonus points!— and 10 on weekdays. Tasty scrambled eggs or frittata, plus many berries and many representatives from the muskmelon spectrum.

*Instead of an overpriced in-room minibar that taunts you with treats that will capsize your monthly budget if you dare to even peel off the lid, the Inn has a few demure baskets of cookies and so on ($1 for McClure’s Spicy Pickle Chips! Spicy! Pickly!) downstairs, and a wee selection of wines and beers for less than you’d pay in a corner store.

*Location! Although locals look a bit concerned at the sight of people using their legs to propel themselves, stay at the Inn and you can saunter to the DIA, The Wright Museum of African-American History, Michigan Science Center and Detroit Historical Society. Or you can get dropped anywhere within five miles by the hotel shuttle. The Motown Museum, hip Corktown and the tasty Eastern Market district are within ten minutes drive. Free parking!

*The hotel’s brochure describes it as “aptly accommodating,” which I agree with wholeheartedly. Very apt.

*Every one of the staff I encountered was a fine and entertaining human. If Detroit’s artistic and cultural offerings (and slew of adjacent dive bars) hadn’t been so enticing, I’d have happily stayed in and hung out with the Inn’s desk folks.


*The Victorians or whoever built this place in 1886 were maybe better sleepers than us. Voices and coughs carry from the lobby and along corridors.