On the final day of 2015, we decided to look back on the most intriguing hotel openings of the last 12 months. With unique themes and bustling locations, these are just a small selection of many noteworthy hotels that have opened their doors to guests this year:
Virgin Hotel Chicago: In January, the long-awaited Virgin Hotel Chicago opened its doors in the historic Old Dearborn Bank Building. Plans for Virgin’s first hotel were announced in the fall of 2011, more than a year after the four-star lifestyle brand launched. The 26-story Art Deco building offers 250 guestrooms, including 40 one-bedroom suites and two penthouse suites. Several of the building’s original features remain intact and are showcased throughout, like a 1920s oak cigar bar that serves as the hotel’s front desk, ornate brass elevator doors, and the original mail slot and chute serving all floors.
The Knickerbocker Hotel: FelCor Lodging Trust debuted The Knickerbocker Hotel, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, in Times Square in February. The redeveloped hotel has 330 guestrooms, including 27 junior suites and four tribute suites, a fitness center, a 2,200 square-foot event space, upscale food and dining options, and a 7,500-square-foot rooftop bar and terrace with views of New York City’s skyline. Architectural firm Gabellini Sheppard designed the hotel.
The Spectator: Named after the spectator shoe, the Spectator Hotel draws inspiration from the Roaring Twenties. The property incorporates vintage touches, Hollywood glamour, and modern sensibilities. Featuring 41 guestrooms, the hotel offers guests pre-arrival concierge planning, and complimentary bicycles to explore the city. Charlestown Hotels manages the property.
JW Marriott Austin: JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts opened its first property in Austin in February, approximately two and a half years after the hotel first broke ground. The 34-story hotel is not only the largest hotel in Austin, but also the largest JW Marriott in North America and the second-largest JW Marriott in the world. The JW Marriott Austin has achieved a LEED Silver certification and a two-star Austin Energy Green Building rating. The hotel features a fifth-floor pool deck and bar, large guestrooms, a full-service Starbucks, and three restaurants.
21c Museum Durham: 21c Museum Hotels opened its fourth property in downtown Durham, N.C. The hotel is an adaptive reuse building, originally built in 1937. The 125-room boutique hotel offers 10,500 square feet of contemporary art exhibition space and seven permanent site-specific installations integrated into a variety of spaces around and within the building.
Press Hotel: Located in Portland, Maine’s Old Port neighborhood, The Press Hotel is housed in the historic Portland Press Herald newspaper building. Driven by the vision of local developer Jim Brady, The Press Hotel showcases Maine artisans, craftsmen, and local culinary talent. A front-desk “letterpress art wall” sculpture welcomes guests in the main lobby, while its public art gallery features an installation made from antique typewriters. Stonehill & Taylor designed the 110-room hotel, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The guestroom design is inspired by a 1920s writer’s office including a vintage-style journalist desk and playful newsroom references throughout.
The Renwick: Originally opened in 1928 as an artist’s loft, this 173-room hotel in Manhattan’s Midtown East pays homage to past residents and cultural and artistic innovations. Each of the hotel’s guestrooms and 33 themed suites feature custom-furnishings that reference items found in an artist’s studio, such as easel-inspired TV stands, desks reminiscent of a workbench, nightstands intended to mimic flat file cabinets, and a patterned carpet that simulates paint-splattered concrete. The hotel is the product of a partnership between Interstate Hotels & Resorts, HotelAVE, and Meadow Partners. New York-based architect and interior design firm Stonehill & Taylor executed the project.
Quirk Hotel: Located in Richmond, Va. the 74-room Destination Hotels & Resorts-managed hotel is housed in a 60,000 square-foot Italian Renaissance building that was originally constructed in 1916 as a dry goods department store. The building’s original wood floors remain intact. The hotel features a coffee bar, restaurant helmed by chef David Dunlap, a rooftop terrace bar, meeting and event space, and a fitness center.
The Gwen: Situated on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the 300-room modern hotel features Art Deco architecture and décor influenced by Chicago-born sculptress Gwen Lux’s McGraw-Hill façade. Inspiring quotes from the Gwen’s of the world—artists, musicians, poets, authors, and more—add flavor to its style. The property, Starwood’s first Luxury Collection Hotel in Chicago, offers three dining options.
Hotel RL Baltimore: The first of Red Lion Hotels Corporation’s new brand, Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor opened in July. The 130-room property is an historic adaptive reuise of the former Keyser Building, a 10-story building with a cut-stone façade. Guestrooms incorporate plush seating and hard work surfaces, with hardwood floors throughout. An airplane-style app offered by the hotel allows guests to choose their specific room, check in, and download an electronic key. The hotel offers 2,400 square feet of meeting space. It is within walking distance of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.