Travelers today are faced with the great and the not so great inspirations called the American boutique hotel. The Art, The Nativ, The Standard, The Washington Schoolhouse, The Surf Lodge, The Thompson, The Mercer, The Limelight, The Crosby Street, Tribeca Grand, Gramercy Park Hotel and the first many years ago, The Soho Grand, form a genre within all the places one can now stay. While beds come standard, the architecture, the art and the unique surroundings define the initial visitor experience. The caliber of the art, when thought of first really makes or breaks each. The hotel becomes the “gold” standard for the surrounding community.
When the Soho Grand in New York City was the only game in town in 1996, moods were curated by swanky sounds of unrecognized musicians and DJs. The city’s music scene became an ultimate definition of The Soho Grand experience. Rooms were small, the daily rates were high and the food, ambiance and the hotel staff personified the experience. If you were in the fashion, fine art, movie, advertising or music scene a stroll to your room meant you arrived (at least for the experience). New hotel groups joined with new concepts and today the list is eye watering.
The brinkmanship though is found in how the concepts have mixed the details. Did the hotel want to make you feel a part of its local community and heritage? Were you moved by the Antlers mixed with a DJ stand or more so by an elegant entrance that conveyed tranquility as you thought about a planned private spa?
Perhaps it was Uma Thurman sitting next to you or simply being under the bar’s massive Richard Prince, Damien Hirst or Warhol-Basquiat originals. Or were you simply looking up at a “pretty” picture of some obscure abstract set of eyes created by yet another local artist? Make no mistake, boutique does not mean elegance for some. A stay at New York’s Ace Hotel is met with cheap electronics and wrought iron bed frames. The rustic vibe is just a part of the experience.
Out West, the original boutique players have been joined by upstarts and regionals. Colorado has world ranked hospitality options abound being a winter and summer playground (think Vail, Aspen and Telluride). Travelers easily can and should be choosy. In Denver, Hotel Teatro has been renovated to compete with the experience found across at the Four Seasons. A block away is The Curtis (Hilton’s answer to Denver boutique). Yet the missing link is a stable of excellence in foods beyond a burger and a beer and what has been selected for the walls and halls.
Come this June, Denver’s museums and library will have their own neighborhood destination, The Art, a hotel. Located in Denver’s Golden Triangle, just south of the Central Business District, visitors will be surrounded by transformative local, national and international fine art and architecture. The distinguishing character of the neighborhood was set in place with French and Italian influenced residential buildings contrasted by typical Denver structures and the Denver Public Library by Michael Graves. The neighborhood earned a full fledge world destination badge with the completion of the the Denver Art Museum by Daniel Liebiskind, the Clyford Still Museum designed by Brad Cloepfil at Allied Works Architecture and The Colorado History Museum by Tryba Architects. While Denver’s “Modern and Minimalism” is all the rage, the addition of the new hotel will be able to pair international standards with a healthy dose of Denver’s new found love for fine art, architecture and culture.