This past weekend the Hubs and I went on our yearly baby-free weekend together. Every year we try to get away together, just the two of us, for a few days of us time, to help us recharge and reset. Granted, last year was our first year taking a weekend away, so technically this is the second annual parent-cation, but hey - you've gotta start somewhere, right?
Last year, we went to Vegas because I had never been before and we had a blast. I won a ton of money, Hubs lost a ton of money, we ate some wonderful food courtesy of Gordon Ramsay's Steak location on the Strip, and we came back home rejuvenated.
This year, we decided to go to Salt Lake City since neither of us had ever been, and we were both surprised at how much we loved the city! In all honesty, a big reason why we chose Salt Lake was the fact that there was an Ikea in Draper that we knew we could hit up for some goodies, but I also had driven through there via the highway a few times on road trips and knew that it looked like there was a lot to offer.
After a lot of research and deal finding, we decided to stay at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Salt Lake and holy gorgeousness, it was easily one of the best decisions of the trip. I am one of those people who live for complimentary breakfasts, but the amenities at Hotel Monaco easily won me over, and there was a Starbucks less than half a mile down the road as well as complimentary fresh coffee and tea in the lobby every morning so I didn't end up missing the fact that breakfast wasn't included. I have used HotelTonight for all of our vacations for the last three years, because I haven't been able to find any better prices on any other type of deal website, and we ended up getting an amazing rate for the weekend we were there.
(If you haven't heard of the HotelTonight app yet, do yourself a favor and download it now! As an added bonus, if you enter my HotelTonight promo code SPETERSON4 when you sign up, you get $25 off your first booking!)
I called Hotel Monaco as we were getting close to Salt Lake to tell them we were running a little late, but that we were there to celebrate my husband's birthday this weekend and we would be there soon. When we arrived at the Hotel, there were Valets there to welcome us, take our bags and park our car, and the person at the front desk was very kind and wished my husband a Happy Birthday. He said as a token of their happy greetings they had upgraded us to a Deluxe King room and they left a little something extra in our room. They must have known the way to my heart, as there was a bottle of wine and two glasses with a hand written Happy Birthday note awaiting us - right then and there the Hubs and I decided we had made the right choice.
After unpacking our things, we changed and walked the short .6 miles to what was our second best decision of the trip - Pallet Bistro for dinner. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City for dinner, I would hands down recommend this New American Bistro restaurant! We luckily had made a reservation on the drive down, as the place is very cozy and was jam packed with diners. The hostess led us to the bar so we could enjoy a few libations while we waited for our table to open up, and we decided to indulge in a Lotus Petal and a Fernie Sanders. My Lotus Petal cocktail had this really interesting smoky flavor, and was half-rimmed with Hawaiian black lava sea salt. It was very reminiscent of a margarita, and the Hubs' Fernie Sanders was crazy delicious. The honey and cognac left the most wonderful aftertaste without being too sweet, and they were both a perfect way to start our dinner.
Once we were seated, we decided to try the pork belly appetizer. The menu on their website says that it comes with fried polenta, corn jus and cilantro salad, but I don't think that's what was on our plate - we had carrots and a radish, as well as a few crispy kale-esque leaves and a puree of some sort. Whatever it all was, the pork was so tender and melted in my mouth, and everything on the plate went perfectly together.
For our main courses, the Hubs ordered the Trout and I ordered the Zabuton (one of the best things about being married? Ordering two different things at restaurants and being able to eat off the other's plate!). The Trout came atop heirloom beans, maitake, and chorizo, and was perfectly flaky. The only comment my Hubs made was that the skin was a little on the soggy side and he wished it was a little more flaky, but other than that, I would say by how quickly he cleared his plate that he enjoyed it.
My Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef was extraordinary. Like the Pork Belly, every bite melted in my mouth, and I loved the mustard seed potato salad, which was way more like a hard mashed potato versus a typical potato salad. The only criticism I had in regards to my Zabuton is that the Wagyu was very heavily peppered, so by the third slice it was quite overwhelming. I ended up scraping off a bit of the seasoning which did help.
The vibe of the restaurant was very vintage and modern, we loved all the reclaimed wood and exposed original details and the candles that sprinkled the entire space created a very cozy and welcoming dining experience! To bring it all home, our waitress brought our check to us enclosed in an actual vintage book, which patrons are welcome to sign after paying - how cool is that?
We walked around town for a little until we got too cold and then headed back to our hotel after dinner. Hotel Monaco's beds are to. die. for. Not only was our headboard so cool that we contemplated 'borrowing' it, but the mattress was so amazing that we both woke up the next morning with sore shoulders because of how deeply and soundly we slept. I typically toss and turn on hotel beds because I can never get comfortable, but I woke up in the exact same position I fell asleep in - which never happens. After changing into our sweet animal printed robes that came with our room, we opened the bottle of wine and settled in for the night. I was really surprised at how quiet our room was, even with it being in the heart of Downtown Salt Lake, and their blackout curtains impressively blocked out even the bright holiday lights that were on all of the buildings that surrounded us.
We woke up the next morning ready with our Ikea game plan, and drove the quick under 30 minutes to Draper to find a few more things to furnish our home. You know you cant go to Ikea without noshing on some meatballs, so after loading ourselves up on some Swedish goodness, we spent the next three and a half hours strolling around and picking up a few things. We only meant to buy a few shelves, a Kallax bookshelf, and a rug, but we ended up falling in lust with the coolest couch ever. Of course, it didn't hurt that it was the exact color of grey we were looking for, a third of the price of the couch we were looking at locally, and has hidden storage and a daybed-esque pullout to turn it into an awesome bed, all while being really comfortable and super midcentury modern looking either.
Our second day here and we had three major scores already (hotel Monaco, Pallet Bistro, awesomesauce couch)? Yeah, Salt Lake City agrees with us. The only issue we had was how to fit everything into the car to get it all home. Thank goodness we had borrowed my mom's Subaru, just in case, but it took us an hour and a half to fit the couch, and we were only able to do so after unboxing and dismantling everything. It's a good thing we love it, because we almost just gave up and returned it.
Because our allotted 2 hour trip window for Ikea turned into over 5 hours, we ended up missing out on both our dinner plans at the Hotel Monaco's super highly rated restaurant, Bambara, as well as the hotel's hosted wine hour (read: free wine), which I had been really excited about.
While I was initially a little bummed, I saw a huge neon sign for an In-N-Out on our drive back to the hotel and made some offhanded joke about funny it would be for us to exchange a dinner at a top rated restaurant for a burger joint. The Hubs couldn't believe I had never eaten there and quickly decided we needed to go. I ordered an Animal Style burger and the Hubs ordered his favorite double double with cheese, and not gonna lie, they were both pretty fantastic. We were both exhausted from Ikea, so we decided to go to a theatre down the street from the hotel to see the new Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay pt 2, walked around a little more, and then settled in again back in our lush suite.
We had made plans to get breakfast with an old friend, but when we woke up in the morning, we were both pretty ready to get back home to H. After grabbing some of the (surprisingly pretty good) coffee from Hotel Monaco's lobby, we made a quick stop to Temple Square to see the beautiful landscapes and amazing architecture, and to get a little walking in before our 5 hour car ride home.
I had seen pictures of the Salt Lake Temple before, but my gosh, it is a completely different feeling in person. The gold glittered in the morning light, and the sky was a perfect backdrop to the incredible historic architecture that surrounded us.
The weekend went by way too fast, and there was so much we didn't get to on our list of things to see in Salt Lake City, Utah. It may have felt short, but we both agreed that it was nice to catch up on some sleep and get away for a few days. We are already planning our next trip back - this time with H in tow!
Have you ever been to Salt Lake? What are some of your 'must-see / must-dos'?