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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Tower Café now offering Airbnb rooms for rent

Facility formerly served as a hotel in addition to dining


TOWER- The McDonough family recently reached another milestone in their ongoing adventure to bring the former small “hotel,” that once operated on the second floor of the Tower Café, back to life. After months of renovations, owners Jen and Bob McDonough posted their first completed rooms on Airbnb earlier this month. Within days they had their first booking and couldn’t have been more excited.
The couple, who purchased the Tower Café about six months ago, opened up the café earlier this year, while continuing to renovate the upstairs, which includes an apartment currently used by one of their adult sons, along with several smaller rooms that will eventually be for rent.
For the McDonoughs, guests aren’t just a source of revenue— they’re an opportunity to show off all the area has to offer. The family is busy collecting contacts and resources for guests to promote local tourism and local businesses. “When people are looking for experiences, we are so excited to be able to be a conduit,” said Jen.
Their first guest, named Tim, was from Los Angeles. “He was in the Twin Cities for a conference,” said Jen, then decided to head north before heading back to California.
Jen said the Boundary Waters had always been on Tim’s bucket list, and they sent him to an Ely outfitter, where he got equipment for a day hike, as well as some time kayaking.
“He spent time on one of our beautiful lakes and met some amazing folks,” said Jen. “Coming from a city of 10 million, he was overwhelmed by the beauty of our open spaces and parks. Tim said it was a dream come true and was amazed by how wonderful our area is.”
Jen said she had warned Tim that it wasn’t a “five-star” Los Angeles type hotel room, but that Tim said the stay exceeded his expectations. He truly enjoyed spending the weekend in such a rural area, Jen said, and couldn’t believe how little traffic there was up here.
The upstairs of the café includes an apartment, where one of their adult sons is now living, along with three rooms, with one more room still waiting to be renovated. The family had the floors refinished, walls sheetrocked, new plumbing, and a security system installed. A professional cleaner was hired to do a deep-cleaning and will be doing the ongoing cleaning after guest stays. The rooms retain the folksy and comfortable feel they had previously.
“We are catering to outdoor enthusiasts looking for a comfortable place to say,” Jen said. “This is not a place for partying.”
Reservations are starting to come in, Jen said, and the café rooms are already booked for Blueberry/Art Festival weekend. For info on available room dates and booking, please visit