One of the great things about America’s Rust Belt – the famed manufacturing region comprising of cities like Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh – is that it boasts some of the country’s most beautifully architected buildings from the early 1900s. And though manufacturing has been in decline for decades, evidence of its one-time strength and wealth is evident as you walk along the streets of any of those cities.
The David Whitney building is one such example in Detroit. Thankfully for us, despite the city’s deep woes over the last few decades, this building survived and has since been remodeled into a hotel and condos. And it is stunning.
My inner Daisy Buchanan was dying to come out, tassles, tiara and all!
The concierge at the front desk could clearly tell how impressed I was with the building, chin-to-sky, looking in all directions. I eagerly asked him what the building was used for during its heyday.
“It was a morgue. This is where they took all the bodies from the riots,” he deadpanned, before flashing a huge smile and informing me that it was a former office buliding.
This brand of humor was everywhere in Detroit. Making themselves the butt of the joke before you could, but in doing so portraying confidence and self-assurance. There’s a tangible pride that comes with being the underdog for so long.
The staff at the hotel were some of the kindest I have ever encountered. Between the concierge, who seemed genuinely pleased to serve me and the other guests, and the bar back who was learning how to bartend and made me a killer “Mule of Rock” (Moscow Mule with some fruit juice added) at the WXYZ bar, I felt completely welcomed and taken care during my whole stay.
The service was probably the best part of my visit, but coming in close second were the accommodations themselves, greatly enhanced by the historic touches the building offered.
Like this retro clock.
I also appreciated the complimentary bottle of water that came with the room – a small touch that normally costs $3-6 at other hotels.
Mostly, I loved walking around the building and soaking in the early-20th-century vibe.
The exterior of the building isn’t quite as impressive as the interior, but it still deserves a nod.
My vote: Stay here if you can! I was fortunate to visit on a business trip – I normally wouldn’t be able to afford a room here. If you visit Detroit but end up staying somewhere else, be sure to take a stroll around the lobby at a minimum, and if you have time, grab a cocktail at the WXYZ bar. It’s worth it!
Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney
- Hotel website, or book at Booking.com
- Location: One Park Avenue, Detroit, MI, 48226
- Rates: Around $175-450/night
- Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest (now a part of Marriott Rewards)
- What’s Within Walking Distance: Wright & Co. is across the street, Comerica Park, Ford Field, Greektown
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