When I was editing the design magazine in Chicago (but living in Detroit), I had to travel back to Chicago every few months and stay for a day or two. I always stayed in the same old frumpy hotel: The Whitehall Hotel, which used to be a private club back in the ’50s. We had trade with a bunch of hotels downtown, and the Whitehall—by almost all measures—was the least fancy, the least hip. The folks responsible for booking my reservation were always questioning my request: “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather stay [insert sterile modern box with a bustling business center and windowless gym lined with rows of treadmills]?” Nope. I’ll take the worn brick façade, faded green awnings, and painfully slow elevators (that can hold only two people and a small piece of rolling luggage at a time) any day of the week. The rooms are predominately innocuous—from the tacky, quilt-like bedspreads to the ubiquitous hotel art hanging on the nude-colored walls. I admit, most of the décor choices are not in good taste—and there might even be a plastic plant in the lobby. But still…in its own dated, slightly daggy way (I say this with the greatest affection), the old gal has character. And it certainly isn’t sterile.
In the name of comfort over bells, whistles and business centers (doesn’t everyone have an iPhone these days anyway? And do people still fax stuff?), I’ve rounded up the ultimate designtripper list of unsuspecting business hotels. Of course, they aren’t business hotels by definition (and you won’t earn any “points” staying here), but they do a quietly impressive job of catering to business travelers with thoughtful, inconspicuous perks.
[Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Marriott Rewards® Credit Card from Chase]