Lonely Planet Writer

A former sewing machine factory takes center-stage in Detroit's transformation

Visitors to the city of motors and Motown can now reserve a room in luxury watchmaker Shinola’s new hotel. Standing on Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s most iconic street, the hotel is billed as a “living room for the city” and features social gathering spots, retail spaces and dining options from James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini.

Rooms are decked out with Shinola goods. Image by Nicole Franzen

Detroit is one of the most exciting cities in America right now. As well as an increase in public spending which has improved essential services and facilities in the city, Detroit’s cultural scene is booming with new restaurants, bars and creative spaces that celebrate home-grown talent, as well as a timeless love of live music that stretches across the city. Visitor numbers have increased in recent years and there’s a host of new places for them to lay their heads, including the latest addition to the scene: Shinola Hotel.

The hotel’s exterior. Image by Nicole Franzen

Designed by the Detroit-based manufacturer of the same name (known for its luxury watches, bicycles and leather goods), the hotel is creating a buzz about the city for its slick design. It occupies several historic structures Downtown, including a former Singer sewing machine store and the former T.B. Rayl & Co department store, which have been restored with careful attention to detail.

The Living Room, a space for in-house events. Image by Nicole Franzen

Each of its elegant 129 guestrooms, designed by Gachot Studios, are spread out over eight floors and feature Shinola goods exclusively made for the hotel, such as a desk clock version of its signature Runwell watch, bluetooth speakers, a striped alpaca throw blanket and a candle. Some of the more expensive rooms are decked out with one of Shinola’s most popular products like its ‘Runwell’ DJ turntable, which retails at US$2500 (£1938), as well as a curated collection of vinyl.

San Morello restaurant. Image by Nicole Franzen

The hotel opened its doors on 2 January this year and brings together several new eateries and bars overseen by chef Andrew Carmellini and Noho Hospitality Group. Hearty southern Italian fare is the focus of San Morello restaurant with wood-fired dishes, pizzas and homemade pastas, while Penny Red’s is a fried chicken joint with honey-butter biscuits and vegetables. Evening Bar serves seasonal craft cocktails and small bites, while The Brakeman, a beer hall featuring craft beers from the Midwest, caters to a more casual socialising experience.

Steak at San Morello. Image by Nicole Franzen

Shinola is part of the new wave of hotels transforming Downtown Detroit’s abandoned buildings. Last year the 1920s-style Siren opened in the city’s historic Wurlitzer building, while the Foundation Hotel took over a former firehouse close by.

Rooms at Shinola start from US$195 (£116) per night. For more information, see here.