is on the up and up. While it’s no longer the thriving Motor City of the early 20th century, it’s also not the abandoned downtown of a few decades ago, either. The city is finally figuring out how to embrace its history and come into its own as a somewhat surprising art and design hub. And no small part of that is thanks to a company called who bought the rights to the name of the defunct shoe polish company and started manufacturing luxury watches, leather goods, and bicycles in Detroit in 2011.
Since then, the Shinola brand has worked hard to cement itself as. And with its reputation firmly established, it seemed like the right time to enter the hotel market—a move also made by other design brands like West Elm and Restoration Hardware (although Shinola’s opening has beat them both to the punch). And of course it had to be in their hometown of Detroit.
“We felt that a hotel was the perfect opportunity for guests to fully immerse themselves in the Shinola brand,” explains Daniel Caudill, Creative Director at Shinola.
And that immersion is exactly what the brand has pulled off with the the, which opened its doors earlier this week. The hotel took over several historic buildings downtown, including an old Singer Sewing building and what used to be a department store covered in gorgeous terra cotta tilework. To pull off the transformation, the brand collaborated with local Detroit real estate firm Bedrock (owned by local stalwart Dan Gilbert), signed on Detroit’s Kraemer Design Group as architect and historic consultant, and tapped New York’s Gachot Studios—whose portfolio includes New York’s Smyth Tribeca Hotel along with Shinola’s flagship stores in New York and LA—as interior designers.
The attention to style and detail that Shinola is known for is apparent across the hotel. For example, after meticulously restoring the terra cotta tiles on the outside of the department store building, the team created a mold from them that was used to create the ceiling of the soaring events space. Furniture, wall-coverings, and accessories that fill the airy spaces were custom-designed and primarily manufactured in the U.S.—much of them were produced in Michigan by partners including Pewabic, known for its ceramics, Booms Stone Company, responsible for the elegant stone finishes in the guest rooms, and Great Lakes Stainless, whose decorative metals can be found throughout the hotel’s public spaces.
The lobby features a roaring fireplace, plush leather seating (making it a surefire hotspot for Detroiters looking to get out of the cold), and a grand staircase with the building’s original iron hand-railing that leads to a cozy guests-only mezzanine lounge stocked with books and games. Detroit–based gallery Library Street Collective curated the art for the hotel and the reception area features a stunning custom woven four-wall, floor-to-ceiling piece by Detroit artist Margo Wolowiec.
Further upstairs, the hotel’s 129 rooms and suites feature materials like oil-rubbed bronze, soft leather, plush mohair, and American white oak along with hardwood floors and massive arched windows that offer up expansive views of the city (be sure to request a room on one of the upper eight floors to take full advantage). In the bathrooms, Waterworks partnered with Shinola on custom fixtures that are inspired by the caseback details of Shinola’s watches. And, of course, Shinola’s products are prominently featured—including an exclusive line of toiletries called Rayl’s, which the brand created as a nod to one of the building’s previous tenants.
In addition to specifying you’d like to be on the upper floors, we’d also suggest checking into one of the hotel’s suite-level rooms (there are ten different room types scattered throughout), where you’ll findand a curated collection of vinyl, deep marble soaking tubs, balconies, and gas fireplaces. The two penthouses offer even more perks, featuring separate dining and living areas, large terraces, and fireplaces.
When it comes to wining and dining, Shinola plays into Detroit’s blossoming restaurant scene (led by) with a host of options by NYC’s NoHo Hospitality Group and Andrew Carmellini. On the casual end, there’s a yet-to-open beer garden called the Brakeman and chicken & biscuits joint, and on the more buttoned-up side of things, guests can settle in at the already-open Evening Bar and an upscale Italian restaurant called San Morello. There are also several outdoor areas including a show-stopping rooftop conservatory.
Rounding out the property’s atmosphere is Parker’s Alley, a pedestrian shopping arcade nestled into what used to be an alleyway behind the property. It’s the first of its kind for Detroit—the Motor City is not known for its walkability after all—and is stocked with local female-owned retailers like Drought Juice and Made Floral, along with a new Shinola retail store.
Shinola is the third hotel to open in a budding trifecta that’s creating a new luxury hotel district for downtown—one that’s capitalizing on the neighborhood’s formerly abandoned-but-still-glorious historic buildings. Shinola joins the 1920s-throwbackand the beautiful , both of which opened in the last two years with lauded restaurants and swanky rooms.
You know what they say: three’s a trend and Detroit’s luxury quotient is definitely on the rise.