There’s a stylish new place for guests to hang their hats in downtown Fort Wayne. The city’s first boutique hotel, the long-awaited Bradley Hotel, opened in the Summer of 2021 to much fanfare. The Vera Bradley-inspired boutique hotel is full of familiar prints from the fashion brand and contemporary pieces from local artists.

As one of the founders of the Vera Bradley Company, Baekgaard wanted the place to feel like an extension of her home. She still resides in Fort Wayne and wanted there to be a lodging option in the city that was as comfortable and beautiful as if she was entertaining guests at home, as she explained to us during breakfast at the hotel before we joined her on a tour of the Vera Bradley offices. The result was a 124-room boutique hotel in an area of the city that is undergoing a renaissance and definitely the hot spot of activity, dining, culture, and more. Just steps from the hotel are The Landing, a new dining and shopping corridor, and Promenade Park on the riverfront, making it a great central location to be your home base when visiting the city. You’re also within walking distance of several other attractions and eateries. 

You’ll find the spirit of Vera Bradley greeting you as soon as you enter with vibrant color incorporated into the lobby and adjoining restaurant and throughout the hotel - from the wallpaper in the first floor restrooms to the accent pillows in the guest rooms to the decor in Birdie’s restaurant with rooftop dining. And I have to talk for a moment about the restroom wallpaper. The whimsical design is a nod to Fort Wayne and the Hoosier state with the Fort Wayne skyline, the state bird and the state flower weaved into the design. There’s also a matching line of bags in that design that is available exclusively at the hotel. I couldn’t resist getting a pretty and functional bag that I can carry my laptop in with lots of pockets and outer sleeves for my water bottle and phone.

The rooms and suites feature quilted headboards and patterned wallpaper with pops of color in keeping with the true Vera Bradley style.

Guests can even pick up a classic tote in the hotel’s signature custom print (highlighting the Indiana state bird and flower, the Fort Wayne skyline, and — of course — a Vera Bradley bag) to take home as a souvenir.

The hotel also serves as a celebration of the arts and each guest room includes commissioned botanical-inspired prints by local artist Julie Wall. The hallway off the lobby features a rotating gallery of pieces by local artists and in the lobby, you’ll find colorful artwork by well-known Fort Wayne muralist Theoplis Smith III (a.k.a Press Laundry).

 For a foodie like me, it’s a dream with its dining options. Arbor is a modern-chic setting serving Italian-American classics, light bites, and savory breakfasts featuring seasonal produce. Birdie’s (that’s Baekgaard’s nickname given to her by her grandchildren), is a casual, yet classy dining room on the top floor with a rooftop terrace overlooking downtown Fort Wayne. It’s one of my favorite spots in the city. Enjoy tasty small bites with creative twists or sip on cocktails while a light breeze floats through.

The Bradley also houses meeting and event spaces and a fitness room.  The hotel’s location is ideal, just a quick walk from the Fort Wayne riverfront, Promenade Park, the trendy Landing mixed-use development, Parkview Field, arts venues, restaurants, and everything else the thriving downtown region has to offer.

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