Over the last three weekends, our team has gotten to check out and check-in to Hotel Trundle, serving as the guinea pigs for the new “experience packages” the downtown boutique hotel is launching. I know, tough job.
As you probably read last year, Hotel Trundle is the new kid on the Taylor x Main block in the Main St. District – opened in April as Columbia’s first true boutique hotel. Owners Rita Patel and Marcus Munse aim to showcase local businesses in all aspects of the hotel – from the decor to the K Cups to, now, the experience packages. Take a quick video tour of the hotel here.
The packages are built like themed, prix fixe experiential gifts – with customizable add-ons. They can be vacation options for out-of-town visitors (book everything at once + don’t think about reservations again) or staycation options for locals, used to celebrate a special occasion (think: the ultimate birthday/anniversary/Christmas gift for the person who has everything) – or just a #treatyoself weekend. You can book online 2 weeks in advance or call the hotel (803.722.5000) to check availability 1 week prior to stay.
- Sweet Stay Package | vibe: romance | chilled champagne + complimentary Hotel Trundle wine glasses, a dozen roses in-room, macaroons from Ally & Eloise, night’s stay + free parking | book online
- Foodie Package | vibe: you + your favorite human’s night out | cooking class + dinner with Let’s Cook!, complimentary wine + wine glasses, dessert + nightcap at Lula Drake, night’s stay + free parking | book online
- Artsy Package | vibe: GNO or date night away from the kids | 2 general admission tickets to Columbia Museum of Art, paint and pour class with Grapes & Gallery, 4-course dinner + drinks at Bourbon, night’s stay + free parking | book online
- Brewery Package | vibe: friends/family-in-town group outing | 2 tickets to Columbia Brew Bus tour, a snack at the second brewery stop, 2 burger + beer vouchers at The Whig, night’s stay + free parking | book online
But enough reading about them – see them with your own eyes by reading our play-by-play of how our experiences with the new packages went down. Beth, Sam and I are still not over it.
Hotel Trundle will be adding more packages throughout the summer (think: here’s where you can throw a baller bachelor/bachelorette party), but the baseline will always be a night’s stay at the hotel + dinner (with free parking, which we all know is a blessing downtown).
The best part is that they coordinate everything for you behind the scenes, so you feel kind of like a local celebrity when you arrive at your reservations – with a table waiting for you and bottles ready to be popped. Plus, think of all that time saved on coordinating arrival times for each activity… we’re exhausted just thinking about all that planning.
Here are how the packages go. 👇
Artsy Package | Sam
I’m always on my husband about planning us a date night once a month – but now he (and every other guy) is getting off easy, because Hotel Trundle is doing all the thinking for them: happy hour, activities, dinner, a night’s stay in an out-of-this-world hotel (and all within walking distance of each other).
Friday, 1 p.m. | Check-in is at 3 p.m., but Brad and I got there early. (Eager much, ha?) We both worked from the lobby for a couple hours – which was actually really cool. They have complimentary wifi, several tables, couches, cushy chairs (with built-in outlets), a high-top bar-type table (more outlets), relaxing music playing, a flavored water station… and wine or beer available for purchase for those having a stressful workday.
3 p.m. | At 3 p.m. – on the dot – I was at the front desk ready to see our room. During check-in, we each got a complimentary drink; a choice between 3 wines + 2 local beers. Brad got a River Rat Beer on tap, and I got a glass of red.
3-5 p.m. | If you come to check-in ready for your night out at 3 p.m., you’ll have time to use your two tickets to the art museum down Main St. (which closes at 5 p.m. on Fridays) this afternoon for ~1.5 hours before your paint + pour class. However, I was caught up in the awe of the hotel and took full advantage of all it had to offer first: i.e. got re-ready (for the sole purpose of using a bathroom prettier than my own), relaxed in my robe + watched HGTV (because we don’t have cable at home; it’s the little things, y’all), played around with the hotel’s shadow puppet wall, peeked into the gym, etc.… making us miss the museum this day. But the tickets are general admission, so you can use them Saturday or anytime you’re back on Main St.
Our room had an old elevator shaft in it – which they converted to an adorable little seating nook. The wall still has the button you’d press to call for the elevator.
5 p.m. | Everyday, 5-6:30 p.m., Hotel Trundle hosts a Sip & Nibble reception for guests. We had salsa, pimento cheese + chips provided by The Grand and, you guessed it, wine – which is provided by a rotating list of local wine experts.
6 p.m. | Grapes & Gallery is only a 5-minute walk down the street from the hotel, so we got there a little before 6 p.m. – and walked through their lower level gallery before class started. Upon arriving, we told the bartender we were with Hotel Trundle and she immediately knew both our names and said the first glass of wine was on the house (always courtesy of Hotel Trundle as part of this package). Heck yeah.
Class started a little late, but the instructor also knew we were with Hotel Trundle and was aware of our dinner reservations at 8 p.m. – so she made sure we finished on time. (Except we got to chatting with our classmates, and ended up being late anyways… story of my life.)
It was drizzling a little as we were leaving, and the bartender stopped us to say someone from Hotel Trundle brought over umbrellas to make sure we stayed dry for our walk to dinner. Talk about Southern hospitality at its finest.
8:15-ish p.m. | TBH, dinner at Bourbon is where I felt like someone important – even though I eat there all the time. When we arrived, the hostess told us how long the wait was, so we told her no problem (because we were late) and let her know we were the people with Hotel Trundle – to which she responded “Oh! We already have a table waiting on you,” and immediately sat us down. We then got a choice of black-eyed pea hummus or pimento cheese to snack on until the waitress came over with menus. A special menu was put together with limited [but delicious] options to choose from: we got Nola BBQ shrimp to share as an app, etouffee + grilled Lady Edison porkchop as our entrees, and the salted Maker’s Mark banana pudding to share for dessert (which is sinful + heavenly all at the same time). We also each got to pick a frozen cocktail of our choice to sip on.
Tip is included with the package, but if you order more drinks or food, like we did (hello, frozen peach mule that I ended up drinking three of), you can bring your own card or cash to tip extra for that.
Service was impeccable that night. The manager even came over to our table to introduce himself + chat with us about Hotel Trundle.
10:30 p.m. | We went straight back to the hotel after dinner (gotta get all my cable TV-watching in while I can), where we were greeted with our turndown service (so fancy) – consisting of the sheets pulled pack, and Carolina Kernels popcorn, bottled water, a thank you note + and the remote all waiting on the bed, in a cute gold box. (This has ruined me. I’ll now be asking for turn down service at every hotel. #spoiled)
Saturday, 8 a.m. | Rise and shine came too soon. But it’s all the better when Ally & Eloise breakfast cakes + Indah coffee are waiting for you as breakfast in the lobby. We ate… and sadly went on our way home to Lexington. But we’ll be back, Hotel Trundle; I promise you that.
Foodie Package | Chloe
I asked my sister to come down from Greenville and do a girl’s night with me for my Hotel Trundle staycation (sorry, boyfriend). I’m so glad she agreed, because I think this package is a perfect hands-on activity for girlfriends (or boyfriends) getting together in Cola – whether for a weekend reunion or just a night out.
Friday, 4:30 p.m. | Hotel Trundle check-in starts at 3, but we were running a little late. Nevertheless, when we got there to check-in, our hurriedness melted away as we were greeted by two glasses of wine and perhaps the friendliest front desk agents in all of Cola. We were presented with a gift bag of two keepsake Hotel Trundle stemless wine glasses, which we promptly handed off, along with our luggage, to one of the guest associates so he could take everything up to our room while we parked (in the lot right next door).
5 p.m. | We totally missed the nightly “Sip & Nibble” reception for hotel guests because we were busy drinking wine in our robes upstairs and getting ready for the night. No regrets.
6 p.m. | Our cooking class with Chef John over at Let’s Cook! on Assembly St. started at 6:30, so we called the front desk to see if they could have the Main St. Yellow Shirts shuttle us over there as we had mentioned upon check-in. They had already called them to come get us. Blessed. It was an easy ride ~5 blocks over and we got to avoid the summer heat for just a little longer. (Hotel Trundle will pre-arrange this shuttle ride, so you don’t even have to worry about reminding them.) You can also Uber or walk if you prefer.
6:30 p.m. | We signed into our cooking class, grabbed aprons and uncorked our wine bottle that Hotel Trundle sent over to the studio for us before we arrived. Let’s Cook! Culinary Studio is run by Chef John Militello, who leads the classes held at the commercial kitchen/studio at 1305 Assembly St. I vaguely recall hearing about the studio but I’d never been, and you would never notice it from the street – but they are really busy, holding 2-3 classes per week with fun themed nights like Bollywood (Indian cuisine), French Bistro and small plate Asian flavors. See their August events calendar here. (100% having my next birthday party here.)
Our class was a couples’ class on making pasta from scratch (again, sorry David) but there were plenty of groups and basically my sister is my lifelong other half so it was chill. You know how hands-on activities are great bonding experiences? This was like that – lots of laughs + lots of wine. The other couples + groups around us were there for a good time, too, and we met some cool people (s/o to the girl whose parents live in the same neighborhood as mine in Florence (?!)).
We got to formulate and make our own dough, which we then formed into ravioli (that we later stuffed with ricotta) and linguini (thanks to the pasta machines). We also made Nutella-stuffed dessert pastries and parmesan-covered flatbreads.
After allllll this cooking + baking (they handle the boiling + hot ovens for you), we got to sit down to a big group dinner and eat the exact batches of pasta that we made with our own two hands. Dope. Britt married into an Italian family and will probably tell you that our pasta-making stills are nothing like their Nonnah’s – but the finished product was pretty dang good.
9:30 p.m. | Finally, dinner is finished (tip is included in your package, so don’t worry about that). We said goodbye to our new pasta friends and decided to stroll to the ~5 blocks to Lula Drake on foot (it was such a nice night out). It took us about 15 mins at a very leisurely pace, but neither of us are athletic, so there’s that. Make sure to budget your stroll into your itinerary, or grab an Uber, a cab (Hotel Trundle will provide a list), or take the free Yellow Shirt shuttle (call 803-309-7758) to your next destination.
9:45 p.m. | We showed up at Lula Drake wine bar on Main St. stuffed with pasta but still ready for our nightcap and dessert #2. A Rodgers girl never turns down dessert. We settled into the leather couch area and made sure that was cool with the hostess (who already knew we were headed over from Hotel Trundle), then met our super helpful server who guided us through the wine list until we settled on two different reds. They also offered us dessert: a Nutella crepe with cashews (glorious) and some lemon olive oil cake that was delicious and covered in fresh strawberries + blueberries. We stayed for a while catching up and enjoying the candle-lit vibes and wine. Then owner Tim Gardner came over with some Madeira – a dessert wine made off the coast of Africa, on the house. It had a super liquor-y smell, but no bite – more of a mild, sweet taste (not like liquorish). We were pleasantly surprised.
11 p.m. | We walked the ~1 block back to Hotel Trundle, hopped into bed and pretty much fell straight to sleep.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. | I woke up first and turned on the TV (hello, luxurious cable) and then we made cups of coffee from our in-room Keurig and local Loveland Coffee K Cups (how cool is that?). We alternated taking showers in the gorgeous bathroom and lounging in bed in our robes, watching Fixer Upper.
9:45 a.m. | We popped downstairs for breakfast, served on the weekends from 7-10 a.m. Shocker: Everything was lovely, from the local pastries by Ally & Eloise to the unicorn sugar containers for coffee. We ate breakfast in one of the cozy nooks in the lounge next to the lobby and watched as people + their dogs passed by Taylor St., making their way to Soda City. Check out is normally 11 a.m., but we requested a late check out of noon so we could have more robe time.
11:30 a.m. | After more robe lounging, we checked out, put our stuff in the car and headed to Soda City. It was pretty much non-existent back when Britt lived here for med school, so she was so impressed. It’s right around the corner from Hotel Trundle and the energy that flows seamlessly from the hotel into the vibrant market made me feel oh so proud to call Cola home.
Brewery Package | Beth
Friday, 4 p.m. | My fiancé (yep, that’s brand new – Bryant proposed at the Monet Gardens in Giverny, France just three weeks ago – eeeeeep!) and I checked in with the intent of giving ourselves plenty of time to shower up and lounge in our robes before the evening’s festivities began. Given that our package was all about local, craft beer, he would have never forgiven me if I had asked anyone else to accompany me. ...and after proposing in Europe, he totally deserved this, am I right?
We were greeted with a welcome drink at check-in. Bryant stuck with the theme of the evening and selected the River Rat on tap (the other option was Columbia Craft’s lager) behind the welcome desk, but I figured I’d be consuming enough hops later on in the evening (and oh man, I was right) and wanted to mix it up with a glass of Beaujolais rosé. (Anything to keep my French fantasy month alive.)
4:15 p.m. | B + I spent a solid 15 minutes marveling at our bathroom. Gold hardware. Subway tiles. Plush robes. Luxury shampoo. Cat art over the toilet. More spacious than our two bathrooms at home combined.
5 p.m. | Because Sam + Brad obviously just didn’t get enough Trundle a couple weeks earlier, they met up for the lobby happy hour (ft. wine + locally-catered snacks by The GRAND) and even purchased tickets to join us on the Columbia Brew Bus tour (regularly $45 per person).
5:45 p.m. | The Columbia Brew Bus arrived right on time to pick us up for our 6 p.m. tour. We were shuttled over to Liberty in the Vista where we picked up the rest of the tour crew. Our tour guide Chris kept the ride over to the first brewery – Hunter-Gatherer at the Hangar – high-energy + informative by giving the group the 411 on Columbia’s burgeoning craft beer scene and the low-down on the rest of the stops for the evening – Conquest + River Rat.
6 p.m. | We arrived at the Hangar, and everyone received beer commentary cards to write notes on the four samples you were given at each stop. The boys decided to rate each beer by comparing it to make + model of cars. (Weirdos.) Sam + I matched our beer samples to characters in our fav TV show, Younger. The notecard was also an easy way to keep track of which beers you really enjoyed and would want to sample again at a future visit to the brewery – or even purchase a growler-full (and the Brew Bus had a cooler on board for those who did so). Chris told us that we would each receive a total of at least a pint of beer at each stop, but if you really liked a beer you tried, he was happy to top off your plastic sampling cup. Trust – there was no shortage of suds that night.
You could also order food at any stop (not included in the Hotel Trundle package). Hello, delish Hunter-Gatherer pizzas + pretzels.
7:30 p.m. | After taking a few sunset pics on the deck, the brew crew loaded back up the bus to head to our next stop, Conquest Brewery. Waiting for us on the bus between each stop was a variety of chips + bottled water. At Conquest, we immediately claimed the life-sized Jenga (Bryant lost). After our four samples (and then some), we got a tour from the Conquest brewmaster and learned all about the fundamentals of beer-making.
After a brew or a few, Brad and Bryant secured us a tailgating spot at Conquest for football season. Three cheers for beer goggles!
9:30 p.m. | The final brew bus stop of the night was River Rat. The out-of-towners took a minute to marvel at the fancy new rooftop bar upon arrival. By this point, our crew was starving, so we ordered ourselves some BBQ nachos + truffle fries. #WeddingDietSzn We scarfed our food down between beer sample sips and toured their operation center + canning warehouse, which was unfortunately not in operation at 10 p.m. at night. We also graffitied the River Rat fridge with COLAtoday stickers. Sue us – we were a few deep at this point in the evening.
11 p.m. | Our bus driver dropped the four of us off at The Whig for the second part of the Brew Package – a burger + a beer, included in our package. It was late, and Sam and I had just consumed all the fries and wanted to spend more time back in the beautiful hotel. Thus, the boys (whose stomachs are bottomless pits) redeemed the burger + beer vouchers while Sam and I cuddled back at the hotel, snacking on the turn-down service popcorn + watching HGTV in our robes, of course.
Saturday, 8 a.m. | Bryant + I had a early wake up call to head to Asheville and tour wedding venues, so we were up, at ‘em and eating Ally + Eloise breakfast cake in the lobby by 8 a.m. Check out was mildly tragic b/c obviously neither one of us wanted to leave, ever.
Our team being guinea pigs for Hotel Trundle was a great way for their team to test out these new packages. (And we did not hate it one bit.) They used our feedback on timing + preferences to make even more improvements to the packages, like:
- Hotel Trundle will add more details to the welcome email you’ll get after you book with everything you need to know – in addition to your itinerary (with times + locations) – like a list of cab companies you can call if you need one.
- The brew crew got super hungry on the tour, so now Hotel Trundle will work with the second stop on the brewery tour to provide a snack for guests as part of the Brewery Package.
- The Artsy Tour could have used a little more buffer time between the paint and pour class and dinner, so Hotel Trundle is pushing the Bourbon priority seating reservation to 8:30 p.m. vs. 8.
- We clarified with Hotel Trundle that the free Main St. Yellow Shirt shuttle can take guests anywhere in a 9x4-block radius between 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. during their stay – just coordinate pickup with the front desk or call the shuttle directly (803-309-7758). The service is complimentary and there’s no need to tip, per their guidelines, but you can if you want.
I really am spoiled for life after this package stay. Maybe I’ll get to do it again soon, though? My half-birthday is coming up… Or I’ll just convince my college girlfriends to visit and do it all over again. We have a guide for the perfect 48-hours in Cola now, you know…
But seriously, if you haven’t yet, go see it (although, warning: visiting might make you book a night on the spot, it’s so gorgeous). They have a nightly happy hour Monday-Friday, 4:30-7 p.m. ($4.50 craft beer + $6 wine). You can also visit to work remotely or have a meeting in their lobby/lounge area (remember that wifi we mentioned), and during down times, the front desk agents are happy to give you a quick tour and rundown of the history of the space.