Our Story

Cream City co-founder Carolyn Weber first dreamed of opening a hostel in 2011. A travel enthusiast, she was inspired by her own positive experiences staying in hostels, and in 2013, she jumped into business planning with both feet with the guidance of Juli Kaufmann. A few years later, fellow community organizer Wendy Mesich joined the team.

Today, Cream City Hostel’s doors are open–and we are proud to say we’re the first hostel in Milwaukee. Initially we considered locations downtown and in the Walker’s Point area, but after touring an impressive but long-vacant space bridging the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods, we knew we’d found our “home.” It’s safe to say we enjoy a good challenge!


The neoclassical cream city brick building was constructed in 1927 to house the Holton Street State Bank, but after the bank’s 1960 closing, it became the site of such groups as the Boys & Girls Club, an alternative high school, and a Head Start-affiliated charter school. The building was deserted in 2006, but now it’s poised to host thousands of travelers from around the world.

In many ways, Riverwest–a diverse “neighbors’ neighborhood” with an offbeat, DIY vibe–is the ideal place for a hostel. We love our quirky little corner of the city. And Milwaukee, too, is no stranger to celebrating itself. From street fests to Summerfest, community fairs to the Wisconsin State Fair, Riverwest24 to 414 Day, there’s something going on nearly every weekend during the warmer months...and lots to do in the wintertime, too (even swimming, for those who dare, with the Polar Bear Plunge). Milwaukee has an incredible array of museums and world-class attractions, an awesome park system, food, drink, and music options galore, and most importantly, a network of diverse communities and friendly people.

Yep, we’re a proud city. But we also embrace the idea that the world is a varied and fascinating place, much bigger than just us. Milwaukee’s many ethnic festivals are a testament to that idea, and so is the city’s fast-growing and regionally diverse food scene. We designed Cream City Hostel in that spirit–as a home away from home, wherever you’re from.

As we embark upon our first season, we’re excited to share this place we love with the rest of the world. We hope you enjoy your stay.