For its April Survey, City Present heads to the heartland of America, with a selection of beautiful historic buildings that have been restored and converted into luxury hotels which offer character without sacrificing comfort or quality.
Many of these buildings were early 20th century office buildings, such as the 1906 14-story Fulton Building on the riverfront in downtown Pittsburgh, which in 2001 was converted into a 299-room Renaissance Hotel, and is currently undergoing a complete interior upgrade.
Similarly, the Cleveland’s legendary Arcade, a huge European-style glass shopping hall, opened in 1890, and was reinvigorated when its northern half was made over into a Hyatt Regency Hotel in 2001. The 293-room hotel occupies the Superior Avenue side of the Arcade and its upper floors, and offers guests convenient access to the Arcade’s shops and services, including a new spa.
In riverfront Louisville, Kentucky, several historic warehouse buildings of city’s historic Main Street district were transformed into the cutting-edge Hotel 21c and Museum. Hailed as one of the most unique hotels in all of the US, the Hotel 21c’s lobby is a contemporary art gallery, with installations and renown art works throughout the hotel, from the elevators to the comfortable guest rooms.
Another river city, St. Louis, Missouri saw the historic Cupples Station and adjacent buildings reborn as a large Westin Hotel in 2001, complete with spa and health club. In 2006, the new Busch Stadium, home of the MLB Cardinals, opened across the street, making the property both comfortable and convenient to downtown St. Louis attractions.
In Chicago, travelers have several options for staying in notable historic buildings. Perhaps the most unique option is to check-in to the Hotel Burnham, the former Reliance Building on State Street in the heart of the Loop. Named for its original architect, Daniel Burnham’s and built between 1890 and 1895, the property is a historic artifact, considered one of the world’s first skyscrapers. It became a luxurious boutique hotel in 2001, retaining many of the original features of the tower, including its large plate glass windows and period ironwork around the elevators.
More recently, just a few blocks away, Marriott engaged noted architect Lucien LaGrange to completely redo another of Daniel Burnham’s masterpieces, the Continental & Commercial Bank Block, into a 5-star JW Marriott property which opens this year and was featured in the City Present’s survey of notable new hotels for 2011.
North of Chicago’s loop, anchoring the world-famous Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue, the 1928 Oriental-Art Deco Medinah Athletic Club was remade into the Intercontinental Hotel in 1990. The Intercontinental Chicago Hotel & Towers retains the club’s original 14th floor swimming pool, and much of the tilework in the lobby and the exterior’s gorgeous Mesopotamian-deco friezes and Sumerian-inspired stonework.
Minneapolis has for more than a decade had a surprisingly active hospitality scene, with a branch of New York’s Chambers hotel and a stylish Le Meridien property. The city’s reputation for happening hospitality was reconfirmed when the city’s iconic Forsay Tower, known since its 1929 opening as the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi, re-emerged from a two-year US$90million renovation as a neon-glowing branch of Starwood’s W Hotels. The 230-room hotel opened in August 2008, and its 27th Floor Sky Bar is a popular city night spot.