Washington Island  features a patchwork of lodging options, stemming from its isolation. You’ll find basic motels, intriguing and microscopic kiosk-cottages, spacious but threadbare cabins that look like deer-hunting shacks heated with oil furnaces, even the odd resident’s spare bedroom. Finding a cheap room (as in under $100) is generally no problem. For a blast from the past, and a really cheap sleep, there’s Gibson’s West Harbor Resort & Cottages (920/847-2225, gibsonwh [at] itol [dot] com, $30 s, $40 d), about halfway up the west shore from the ferry landing. Yep, they’ve got basic housekeeping cottages ($90 average), but the coolest of all are the sleeping rooms—tiny but tidy—with shared bathrooms above the main building, an erstwhile logging boarding house; it’s all of $30 for a single and $40 for double—they even have a five-person room for $65. Absolutely nothing like it elsewhere these days.
A slight step up, the Sunset Resort (Old W. Harbor Rd., 920/847-2531, www.sunsetresortwi.com , $75) is a longstanding island getaway, run by the fifth generation of the inn’s original Norwegian (1902) founding family. Cupped by spinneys of pine, the inn offers knotty pine cottages and one super loft cabin. Rooms are simple but clean; impromptu campfires typify the family atmosphere. Breakfasts here are legendary.
North up the road from the ferry landing at the mouth of the harbor is another smattering of no-frills accommodations, restaurants, and services. The best-known lodging here is something that has put the island squarely on the map for those searching for something a bit different. The
Washington Hotel, Restaurant, and Culinary School (Range Line Rd., 920/847-2169, www.thewashingtonhotel.com , $125–280) is more a retreat than a lodging option. This renovated 19th-century hotel features amazing touches such as organic linens and handmade beds. Some rooms even share baths with chuffing steam showers. How about breakfast baked in an old-fashioned brick oven? Even better is the food—simply, simply worth every mile of the drive or boat to get here. Such positive feedback came from delighted lodgers that the restaurant is also a culinary academy! And rarely will you find proprietors who will work as conscientiously or heroically to solve what has caused someone to be less than happy (not me, but I’ve seen it and it was real-deal, not obsequious). That said, at times the hotel is booked with events and so closed to tourists, so phone or email ahead!