Between throwing parties, planning family photos, and gift-shopping, one can easily become overwhelmed by the chaos of the holidays. It’s the kind of stress that can often call for a retreat.
But with all the seasonal festivities, getting out of town is not always an option. A staycation, however, can be just as relaxing, without ever taking one too far from home.
The Shinola Hotel invited this Hour Detroit writer to experience what it has to offer right here in Detroit’s historic Woodward Avenue Shopping District, this holiday season. Here’s what I thought.
From the moment I arrived, parking my car in valet and checking in at the front desk, I was greeted by a remarkably accommodating staff who went above and beyond to make me feel at home — an immediate relief after a busy day.
On a Thursday night, the lobby was relatively empty. The rush likely started later in the evening, as the front desk staff informed me that the establishment is fully booked nearly every day.
The reception and concierge area oozes sophistication, with woven panels custom-designed by Detroit artist Margo Wolowiec covering each of the four walls, from floor to ceiling.
The Shinola Hotel, with its cutting-edge design by Gachot Studios and Kraemer Design Group, is a luxury retreat that covers 16,000 square feet and features 129 rooms across eight stories. The building marries two restored structures — the T.B. Rayl & Co. department store and a former Singer sewing-machine store.
My lodgings, a study king, were located on the fourth floor. Upon entering, I couldn’t help but notice the large window looking out upon the new Gucci Store, the People Mover, and a glimpse of The Renaissance Center.
The room was spacious and gave off a cozy feeling. A quick glance made it clear that the hotel strongly embraces Michigan-made products, from the plush mattress to the bathroom amenities. Atop a credenza, there was a mini bar, and behind the alcohol, I found plenty of snacks from local brands, along with beverages to wash down those late-night munchies.
The best room in the house, also known as the penthouse suite, offers 875 square feet of space that includes a private terrace, gas fireplaces, a Shinola turntable and vinyls, and a separate dining area, as well as separate bedrooms.
The Shinola Hotel is the newest boutique hotel in the area, having opened its doors in 2019. It’s part of a multimillion-dollar development project by Shinola, a company founded by Tom Kartsotis of Fossil watches, and Bedrock, Dan Gilbert’s real estate firm, which has bought and developed more than 100 properties in the city since 2011.
The hotel is situated on the 1400 block of Woodward Avenue, steps away from the Guardian Building. It’s location, nearby local amenities like The Brakeman, Penny Red’s, and Mister Dips and within walking distance of Little Caesars Arena and Comerica Park, means guests don’t need to worry about racking up ride-sharing fees. Plus, it’s ideal for strolling through festive Campus Martius and the Detroit Riverwalk.
While visiting, I dined at San Morello, where I sampled savory, house-made pasta dishes, including potato gnocchi, which were followed by a delectable Sicilian pistachio cake.
Part of the restaurant is made up by the ground floor of the old Singer sewing machine building, which still sports its original limestone front and beautiful black iron details. The main dining area contains 179 seats.
Exploring Shinola and downtown Detroit
The folks at Shinola Hotel also curated an exclusive holiday experience that would allow me to bask in the magical glow of downtown Detroit at Yuletide, during my stay.
Shinola, the hotel’s namesake company, provided a 60-minute tour of its headquarters, along with a Shinola journal in which to store my Christmas wish list. Then, I was presented with two tickets for The Rink in Campus Martius Park, where I and a guest enjoyed an evening of ice skating against the majestic backdrop of Detroit’s Christmas tree.
“We, the Shinola Hotel team, have always considered ourselves a gateway to the incredible city of Detroit and its people,” says Sergio Maclean of Mac&Lo Hospitality, which operates the hotel.
“Detroit is now a fully activated city with an incredible amount of opportunity for all types of activities, from family-friendly ice skating and shopping in downtown Detroit to first-in-class entertainment — be it music, theatre, or sports — and of course, great restaurants and bars. From the festive to the romantic, Detroit has it, and we are ecstatic to be a part of it all.”
“Since day one, we have always curated a quintessential Detroit experience for our Shinola Hotel guests,” Andrew Leber, the Vice President of Hospitality for Bedrock, adds. “We love to introduce visitors to the extraordinary city, and this winter “staycation” was created with locals in mind. Detroit has an incredible energy that is magnified downtown during the holidays for all to enjoy.”
For information on how to make a reservation at Shinola Hotel, visit shinolahotel.com.