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Lincoln Park's 'little hotel': Renovations underway on three-suite inn

Andy Matson, co-owner of Hotel Pikku in Lincoln Park, stands in the living room of one of the three hotel rooms. Matson hopes to have the hotel open for business this spring. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com1 / 4
The entryway and closet in one of the rooms in Hotel Pikku feature archways. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com2 / 4
Andy Matson, co-owner with Chelsy Whittington of Hotel Pikku on Superior Street in Lincoln Park. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com3 / 4
The bathroom in this hotel room at Hotel Pikku has a tub, shower and tiled walls. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com4 / 4

Chelsy Whittington has long dreamt of opening her own hotel.

"I've always had that idea in my head," Whittington said. "So we started looking at various properties in the area where we could do so."

This spring, Whittington and her husband, Andy Matson, will open their small hotel in Lincoln Park on the second floor of 1923 W. Superior St.

Hotel Pikku will have three hotel rooms. It's only six blocks away from the couple's home on Observation Hill.

"This is a chance to (open up a hotel) on a scale that was more manageable," Whittington said. "Plus, it's the kind of place that Andy and I like to stay in when we go on vacation. We look for the smaller inns and they inspired me. I wanted to make a place where I'd want to stay."

The name matches the size, as Pikku is Finnish for "small" or "odd."

"Andy's family is part Finnish and we thought it was a nice little name for our little hotel," Whittington said. "My nephew thought it was Pikachu, but no, no, we're not a Pokemon-themed hotel."

The couple purchased the building in April 2016 and have been working on renovations since. The downstairs area houses Hemlock Leatherworks studio, owned by Whittington's friend, Candace LaCosse. The hotel splits the upstairs former apartment area into three sections, which have been renovated to include individual bathrooms and kitchenettes. Rooms will rent for between $100 and $150 a night.

"All the rooms are going to have different stuff in them, different looks, similar theme, but personal. There's a little more space than in traditional hotel rooms as well, as each room is a suite," Whittington said.

Whittington plans to have artwork from local artists and makers showcased in the hotel. Each room will feature artwork on the walls, functional craft items and possibly, locally made furniture.

"With the whole craft district push in the neighborhood, it just make sense," Whittington said.

Right now, the finishing touches are underway on the hotel, such as light fixtures and renovating the courtyard in the back.

"And we'll have to have the city folks back in to make sure we're good to go," Whittington said. "Our little hotel was something that they hadn't really seen before when we went in to make sure we were up to code. I don't think people are used to the idea of having just three hotel rooms, but I think they'll like it."

The hotel's website is up and running. Whittington is already receiving messages from people interested in staying there when it opens this spring.

"We've got people already signed up and we've heard from a ton of people. I've been checking it every day to see how many people have signed up," Whittington said.

Some may recognize Whittington from her other job as a visitor experience and events manager at Vikre Distillery. Matson also owns the family business, Great! Lakes Candy Store, in Knife River.

"And see, that's another great thing. We've got our other steady jobs, but we'll have plenty of time to be here for our guests, too," Whittington said.

For more information on Hotel Pikku, visit thehotelpikku.com.