The Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Iowa City opened in October 2017 and is home to the Vue Rooftop Bar and Restaurant, one of only a handful of rooftop bars in the Midwest. It is located on the 12th floor of the hotel and offers views across Iowa City from 3 sides!
Disclosure: Thank you to Kinseth Hospitality and the Hilton Garden Inn for hosting my stay. As always, opinions are 100% my own.
Not only are the views awesome both during the day and at night (the runway lights of the Iowa City Municipal Airport are visible!) but the food tastes amazing and is very reasonably priced! I sampled a starter of the Lobster Arancini in a lobster butter for $15 and for my main I had Pan Seared Walleye in lemon thyme butter with quinoa and raspberry gastrique for $18. I recommend both! A burger with egg AND bacon only sets you back $13 which is great for somewhere that feels so high end!
There is a wide selection of local craft beers on tap and they have a selection of locally distilled liquors, which help support the nearby communities. Popular brands of beer are available in bottles.
For me, I think one of the highlights of the Vue is the outdoor seating space. There is an undercover area with comfy chairs as well as tables and even a TV…that’s if you can pull your eyes away from the views long enough to be able to watch it! It can be enjoyed even in the winter as you can huddle around a mesmorising fire pit that chucks out enough heat to keep you warm even on a cold evening (believe me, I was out there when the temperature was hovering somewhere around 32F/0C)!
Along with the outdoor area, a large indoor bar and seating area, there is also a smaller private function room that takes up the majority of one side of the restaurant and has its own separate bar. The tables can be kept as smaller individual seating, or pushed together to create a more banquet style layout.
Behind the scenes, the technology at the Vue Rooftop is amazing. All the lighting is controlled from an iPad. A range of solid colours can be chosen in both the main bar area and the private room or they can be set so they rotate through several. Even from the outside of the hotel, looking up at the rooftop looks really cool. When speaking to some locals, they had spotted the coloured lights from the street level and wondered what it was, so it really does stand out!
Food orders are all computerised. When you place an order, the dishes are sent to the kitchen at different times, depending on how long it takes for that meal to be prepared. This ensures that every person’s meal will be completed and ready to be served at the EXACT same time. Pretty clever really!
There’s also a selfie camera in the main restaurant area for guests to take up to 5 shots of themselves enjoying their time at the Vue Rooftop, which can then be uploaded straight to social media or sent direct to an email address.
Have you ever been to a bar or restaurant, been sat next to the speaker system and have found yourself shouting over the music to be heard? Or on the other hand, been sat so far away that you can’t even hear the music? Well the Vue Rooftop has a highly expensive sound system that means wherever you are in the restaurant, the music will always been the same level…a comfortable level which means you wake up in the morning and still have a voice!
The Vue Rooftop also has live music on certain evenings.
Guests staying at the Hilton Garden Inn do not need to be concerned about ‘non residents’ wandering around on guest levels. Floor 12, where the Vue Rooftop is located, has open access so anyone can exit on that floor. However the guest levels require a room key to activate those floors.
Dinner is served at the Vue Rooftop between 4pm – 11pm. For more information or to make a reservation, visit: www.vuerooftop-ic.com
If you’re looking for a bar with a difference in Iowa City, the Vue Rooftop is definitely for you!