If you’re a design lover who enjoys traveling, sometimes your hotel offers all the diversions you need.
When I stayed at the new AC Hotel by Marriott Grand Rapids recently, I nearly forgot about my plans to visit nearby attractions. The hotel’s public spaces were 100 percent my cup of tea, especially the lobby, library, and bar.
Walking in, a small library to the left of the reception area beckons with charcoal-gray velvet Herman Miller chairs; I literally had to be pulled out of one because I just wanted to sit comfortably for, oh, a few more hours. Minimalist design details are this hotel’s philosophy and, in this case, less is definitely more. General Manager Ryan Schmied shared with me that the hotel’s goal from the get-go was to use locally made furniture.
“The AC Lounge and public spaces were thoughtfully curated to honor Herman Miller’s (based in nearby Zeeland) most influential designers and provide a nod to Grand Rapids’ heyday,” the amicable Schmied said. Selections by Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Isamu Noguchi adorn the facility.
The exterior of the seven-floor downtown hotel also has a vintage vibe; it sports original brick from when the structure was built, nearly 130 years ago.
Beyond all these divine design appointments, there are two other notto- be-missed offerings. One: Spend some leisurely time at the bar and enjoy a special gin and Fever-Tree tonic concoction, replete with a long, thin cucumber slice wrapped within the glass, a little lemon peel, and a star anise. Two: When it’s time to turn in, stop at the table near the elevator and make yourself a fresh lavender sachet. Sweet dreams guaranteed!
More eye-candy awaits at the nearby Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. The just-opened IDC (I Don’t Care) bar, located on the second floor of the hotel’s historic Pantlind Wing and only accessible via secret passcode (you can get the code from the front desk staff), brims with unique indoor-outdoor appeal. Donna Summers would love this ’70s-inspired haven.
“It’s a first of its kind in downtown Grand Rapids and in the hotel district,” says George Aquino, vice president and managing director, AHC+Hospitality. Its alluring concept is “primed to deliver an experience unlike any other,” he adds. The space, outfitted with glossy-red and crisp white modern seating and tables, is a rare find in Grand Rapids, as are its “groovy tunes from decades past.” Here, you’re likely to see guests sipping on Harvey Wallbangers.
Step out of IDC and back into the hotel, and feast your eyes upon the Amway Grand Plaza’s décor, which illustrates the beauty of 1930s design. Constructed in 1931 as the Pantlind Hotel, today’s Amway continues to pay homage to historic fixtures and furnishings.Design buffs will want to take in all the details, including the Pantlind Ballroom’s ceiling — it’s one of the world’s largest gold-leaf ceilings. Another head-turner: The lobby’s wooden sunburst sculpture, which hung for more than 150 years in the ballroom of the palace of a wealthy merchant in Venice, Italy.
More superb hotel designs await in Detroit, where guests rave about the Shinola and Detroit Foundation hotels, Element Detroit at the Metropolitan, the Westin Book Cadillac, and The Siren. Plans were recently announced for a new 10-story, 153-room AC Hotel by Marriott to be built along Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. Element Detroit is located in the historic Metropolitan Building, which was built in 1925. When transforming it into a hotel, planners preserved as much history as possible, including the exterior façade, an ornate vaulted ceiling in the interior lobby, decorative staircases, and more.
Once the Detroit Fire Department’s headquarters, the Detroit Foundation Hotel now brims with inventive design. Architect/designer Michael Poris, of McIntosh Poris Associates, encourages visitors to check out the bar’s light installation, inspired by the streetlights of Detroit. You’ll also want to look up and take in the whimsical cumulus bulbs in the first-floor hallway. Designers here ensured that every detail would be notable and locally made — even the chocolates in your room’s private bar!