Detroit’s Lifestyle Brand Takes A Stylish Plunge Downtown


Woodward Avenue. Detroit’s main thoroughfare is one of those great American place names that instantly evokes nostalgia for a lost greatness. Once filled with bustling theater, the avenue was also home to retail giants housed in architectural gems, from the late Hudson’s department store to the still-preserved Art Deco Guardian Building. In a tale everyone knows too well, Detroit and its Main Street have been in sharp decline for decades.

Shinola Room 706, a king of the gallery, gets plenty of light from Woodward Avenue.

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen / Shinola Hotel

But sometimes it just takes a spark of entrepreneurship to get things going again. The Shinola Hotel, which opened earlier this year, is proving to be one such venture as it is part of a series of redevelopment projects initiated by Bedrock Detroit in the Rock Ventures group across the square. Mile central business district.

Make your way up Woodward Avenue now – or, better still, ride the avenue’s two-year-old, sleek Euro-style QLine tram – and a few blocks between Campus Martius and the Grand Circus parks are buzzing with buzzing street life.

To make it all work, Shinola renovated a handsome 1915 building – known for its time as Rayl’s Hardware Store – that occupies the corner of Woodward and Grand River Avenues, and an adjacent old Singer sewing machine store. Then they added several new small buildings to create a maze of rooms and retail stores.

Not only is the Shinola a place to lay your head (and it’s very comfortable to do so), but its 16,000 square foot retail and dining spaces add immensely to the thriving new local scene. Much of the shopping and grocery and beverage outlets are in the cool Parker’s Alley, which runs between the hotel buildings, is made of all fabric and named after Thomas Parker, a black owner of an early 19th century property.

Among the small boutiques in the alley, the Posie Atelier sells flowers, Drought is a juice shop and the Lip Bar sells cosmetics. As you step out of the alley on John R Street, you’ll also see Detroit-born John Varvatos’s new store.

Shinola Hotel reception.

Yes, the Shinola Hotel is super dog friendly.

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen / Shinola Hotel

To revitalize the neighborhood, Shinola hotel operators Mac & Lo, known for their previous work in New York City with properties like Bowery, Mercer, Marlton, and Ace, wanted to create a “portal into the community” that would create a truly public space in the living room on the ground floor and a salon-style mezzanine lounge.

The property has approximately five thousand Detroit-themed books curated by Wayne State University. Local and international artists were selected by the Library Street Collective Gallery in Detroit. Nick Cave’s super popular ten foot wide circular work Tondo, which is made of beads, wool, and wood, hangs prominently on a living room wall and explodes in bright colors.

For further evidence of the neighborhood revitalization, go on a rainy Monday night, for example, and you will still find diners filling the roadside restaurant, San Morello, with the southern Italian and Sicilian dishes of famous New York chef Andrew Carmellini. From the back room with its exposed wood-burning stove to the towering central bar, the restaurant just hums. Hotel guests can always slip into the Evening Bar later, which also has a speakeasy entrance on Parker’s Alley, for a muted cocktail scene. The flow and vibes are so great that it is hard for a newcomer to Detroit to imagine that none of it existed a year ago.

Shinola evening bar.

The Shinola’s Evening Bar has a talking atmosphere.

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen / Shinola Hotel

For more food, the Brakeman offers beers from the Midwest in a beer garden in the adjacent building on Parker’s Alley, for which beer tokens must be purchased. Penny Red’s is affiliated with the Brakeman and serves Andrew Carmellini’s roast chicken by the bucket. Madcap coffee roasters also take their product seriously in the alley, but serve it in a cool, all-white interior.

What about the Shinola rooms? The hotel may mean luxury, but it is neither of the pretentious variety, neither of opulence nor of exaggerated hipsterism. The 129 rooms were distributed over the five buildings in 54 different configurations. Rooms are defined by feeling, which means that a dozen times you would always experience a different ambience.

Designed by Gachot Studio, the hotel features custom-made Michigan wood furniture. A popular “shinola blue” color was derived from a similar shade found in the original Singer building to give fabrics and upholstery a warm hue. Shinola blankets have a striped pattern that is unique for the hotel.

Tailor-made toiletries are named after the original Rayl hardware store, while your plush bathrobe wears a boxer-style hoodie. The room telephone is retro-analog, while the rooms in the gallery category are equipped with a Shinola record player and the matching vinyl. The appearance of the rooms is clean and quite minimal. So if you’re really looking for an espresso machine that takes up space, just ask for one.

Shinola Hotel Canfield.

Shinola’s Canfield Room is known for its studio windows and gas fireplace.

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen / Shinola Hotel

When it’s time to hit the road and see what’s going on downtown, hop on a complementary and super stylish Shinola bike. The mention of the product eventually leads us to the lifestyle brand Shinola, which started it all. For anyone new to the company, it’s pronounced Shine-ola, and the name comes from a long-gone shoe polish brand that inspired the WWII insult: “You don’t know shin about Shinola” (ask your grandparents ).

However, most likely you’ve seen the brand’s retail stores popped up nationwide with a wide range of Shinola products, from signature watches to leather bags to these bikes. As you’d expect, the Shinola Hotel symbiotic has a Shinola store, where guest service arranges amenities like an engraved notebook or a love lock for guests booking about a special event.

In the old Hudson room facing the Shinola, a 58-story tower with a $ 1 billion usage is expected to be completed within a few years. One day you will say you knew Woodward Avenue when everything was about to return.

Shinola Factory Tour: Visiting the production facility on Milwaukee Avenue on a 90-minute tour is like an excursion in which employees from watchmakers to bag designers to marketing and shipping employees travel over an area of ​​over 30,000 square meters on one floor today’s A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Art Deco structure originally known as the Argonaut Building was designed by Albert Kahn and once housed the General Motors Research Laboratory.


Dusty Kennedy