Detroit Foundation Hotel: bridging past and present in the revived rust belt city
World Best Bar
Jul 27, 2018
10 January 2019
Leading the way in this new renaissance is the Detroit Foundation Hotel. Located in the business district of downtown Detroit, across from the Cobo Center, the hotel has become a symbol of rebirth and revitalisation.
Recently recognised by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the best new reborn properties in the world, the hotel used to be the old Fire Department Headquarters. Now a boutique destination, it nevertheless refuses to forget where it came from, paying tribute to Detroit’s past and present in both design and ethos.
The interior is fresh and contemporary – earthy tones meet bright whites, pastel metallics and chocolate browns – yet there are allusions throughout to the building’s previous life. Repurposed wood and vintage rugs cohabit with cutting-edge design and future-facing architecture. Large terracotta archways, soaring ceilings, original marble flooring and exposed brickwork – the history of the hotel is present but transformed. It is now the backdrop to art installations, the work of local creatives such Alex Porbe, whose bar light instillation is inspired by the streetlights of Detroit.
Custom designed wallpaper features photographs of historic Detroit architecture, and behind the lobby desk a video plays of manufacturers whose work is on show throughout the hotel. The 100 guest rooms each pay homage to the city they overlook: iron-welded door handles and bottle openers crafted by local artisans, and an in-room bar fully stocked with local produce. Everything – even the denim worn by the bartenders – is sourced from local artisans.
On the ground floor is The Apparatus Room, an acclaimed restaurant led by Michigan-native and Michelin-starred chef, Thomas Lents. His innovative take on American classics uses proper Midwestern ingredients in new and unique ways, and you can even see your meal being prepared in the kitchen, visible from the tables. You can also enjoy creative cocktails concocted by boundary-pushing mixologists, and appreciate the fashion-forward yet comfortable décor.
Above The Apparatus Room is the Chef’s Table where 12 diners can enjoy a multi-course dining experience courtesy of either local up-coming chefs or more well-known names – it serves both as an incubator for fresh talent and a homecoming platform for renowned chefs returning to their native city. The menu changes monthly, and guests are invited to get to know each other in an intimate, communal environment.
If that wasn’t enough, the hotel also boasts a salon, nail bar and, through a collaboration with 1701 Bespoke, there is even is even the opportunity for an in-room custom suit tailoring experience, organised by the hotel.
This is not just a destination for international travellers either. The hotel is also a centre for community activity: locals and guests can come together to enjoy a range of events, including everything from exercise classes to classy soirees, and even podcast recording. Detroit Foundation sets itself apart from other hotels with its sound studio that has hosted the likes of Jesse Hughes of the Eagles of Death Metal.
Thanks to partnerships with local talent and an ingenious eye for design detail, the past and present are able to join hands at the Detroit Foundation Hotel. Combining local culture with an inventive and open mindset, it is a testament to the perseverance and creative soul of the Motor City, and shows itself to be a key driver in the revival of this Midwest powerhouse.
Photo by Justin McAfee on Unsplash