Exclusive style

U.P. boutique hotel unveils exclusive speakeasy-style bar

HOUGHTON, MICH. — A new subterranean bar in the U.P.’s Keweenaw Peninsula is aiming to woo visitors with its exclusive ambiance and next-level attention to detail.

The Counting Room recently opened as an amenity at The Vault Hotel, a boutique inn situated within an 1887-built former bank building in downtown Houghton. Playing off the location’s history, The Counting Room — tucked away in the building’s former basement vault and boiler room — was designed to exude a cozy, private, speakeasy vibe.

“It feels like you’re going into a really high-end bank of the 1800′s,” says Jen Julien, The Vault Hotel’s owner, who worked with auctioneers and antiques dealers to outfit the space.

With a capacity of about 25 people, The Counting Room is open only to hotel guests and community residents who purchase a membership (which, in keeping with the bar’s themes, comes with a gold-plated, tap-to-enter key card). Once inside, visitors will find original architectural elements, such as century-old sandstone walls, intermingled with refurbished antiques, ornate framed art and mirrors, a bar-top inlaid with stacks of pennies, and even a reconstructed 1800′s bank teller booth.

The cocktails, too, also showcase a lot of thought and precision, Julien says, with house-made syrups, hand-cut ice, and a menu that ranges from classics, like the gimlet, to drinks that may be set on fire.

“We really thought it was important that the cocktails are done right,” Julien says. “All of our mixologists are there because that is their passion. The drinks are very creative and well done.”

The Counting Room was intended to open not long after The Vault Hotel’s grand opening in the fall of 2019, but it was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. After a long wait, the bar and its team of mixologists were finally able to welcome the first Counting Room guests this summer.

Learn more about The Counting Room and The Vault Hotel at thevaulthotel.com.

The Vault Hotel

A nighttime view of The Vault Hotel in Houghton, Mich. Photo by Brockit Inc. | Adam Johnson

The Vault

The Counting Room includes thematic details tied to the building’s history as a bank, including a bar top inlaid with stacks of pennies. Photo by Adam Johnson | Brockit, Inc.

The Counting Room

The Counting Room mixes industrial and antique touches with historic architectural elements, such as the 1887-built building’s original sandstone walls. Photo by Adam Johnson | Brockit Inc.

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