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The Kindler: Luxurious Boutique Lodging in Downtown Lincoln

Step inside the new downtown Lincoln development that's far from your average hotel.

By Madeline Christensen

The Kindler sales and marketing director Michelle Lee Venter comes back to the same phrase over and over when describing downtown Lincoln’s new boutique hotel: “out-of-the-ordinary.” 

From its art deco architectural finishes and head-turning metal sculpture pieces, to the above-and-beyond customer service, to its upscale cocktail lounge, The Kindler is far from your average suburban or airport hotel. 

Owned and developed by Nick and Brooke Castaneda, The Kindler was built throughout the past year and opened just in time for the first Husker game of the season. It occupies the space next to and just above Misty’s at 12th and P, which sat empty for decades. 

“You will see elegance in the property that is comparable to what you would see on the east or west coast, right in the middle of Lincoln, Nebraska,” Venter said. “It's outstanding. We blend the spirit of Lincoln's heritage with phenomenal architecture and the creative spirit of the Lincoln native that this property is named after.”

The native in question is Ken Kindler, a Nebraska welder, industrial artist, and father of Brooke Castaneda. His eccentric metal sculptures serve as the centerpieces of the hotel, and Kindler’s memory reverberates throughout the space design-wise as well as with the standard of hospitality, Venter said. 

“He was a father, a husband, and a phenomenal person,” she said. “That’s the level of hospitality that we are offering to represent him.”  

Venter herself has been in the hospitality industry for 30 years, and the Kindler staff is dedicated to setting a standard for service in Lincoln. 

“You will see people that will go above and beyond,” Venter said. 

For example, a staff person had gone out of her way to show a guest the bathroom, offer her a towel, and give her a mint. The guest told Venter she was impressed that The Kindler had hired a bathroom attendant. They hadn’t -- that was a desk attendant. 

“You don’t see that,” Venter said. “Not in Lincoln.” 

Another thing you won’t see anywhere else in Lincoln: a wine and food pairing menu and a lounge cocktail menu developed by former Olympic gold medalist turned Food Network star, Brian Boitano. 

Owner Nick Castaneda was watching an episode of “Hell’s Kitchen” where Boitano was serving as a guest judge, and figured he’d be the perfect man for the job in order to elevate the Kindler’s wine and cocktail bar to a premier destination in Lincoln. 

While The Kindler has positioned itself to create a boutique hotel experience you’d find in a major city, being a part of Lincoln’s downtown fabric is also an emphasis. 

Located moments away from Memorial Stadium, The Kindler is going to do their best to live and breathe Big Red, Venter said. 

Besides a game day cocktail menu with names like “The Frisky Husker with a Side of Frost,” the hotel is offering dedicated Husker fans five-year memberships, which includes a reserved block of three rooms for every single home game, champagne Sunday brunches, and a Mercedes shuttle to and from the stadium.
“People have a very hard time finding rooms in downtown Lincoln for a game day,” Venter said. “This takes away that worry.” 

Interested parties are welcome to contact Venter at for memberships beginning in the 2020 season. 

The Kindler officially opened on the first Husker game day of the 2019 season just two weeks ago. 

“There's always going to be some sort of learning curve, but to be open the day before the first Husker football game, I was blown away by the level of hospitality that our staff offered,” Venter said. “There were smiles on the individuals that were walking by, and some just popped in. And the lounge’s Bloody Marys were phenomenal. I've never had a better Bloody Mary, so there you go.” 


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