5 New Hotels with Intriguing Former Lives

Photo from Hotel Emma

New hotels are springing up in some unusual places, including the former homes of a brewery, model-T car assembly plant and post office.

It’s a trend that is designed to satisfy travelers’ desire to more fully experience the history and culture of destinations. It’s also helping to boost cities’ revitalization efforts and preserve open space.

Many of the hotels are directly addressing the changing demands of clients by emphasizing more of an upbeat vibe and offering public spaces that include trendy restaurants and lobby bars.

Here’s a glimpse at a few of these new properties, noted by cnn.com.

Hotel Emma in San Antonio occupies the spot of a brew house built in 1894, but instead of establishing a totally new identity, it puts a contemporary spin on its roots. The hotel, which opened in November, incorporated distinctive elements of the building’s brewing history.

The 146-room property, located on the banks of the San Antonio River, has preserved the original vaulted ceilings, exposed brick walls and cast-iron staircases. And the clubby bar and gourmet food shop add a modern touch.

Ford Model-T cars once filled the floor of the building that now houses 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City. The building, constructed in 1916, was home to a Ford Motor Company assembly plant. Original features of the building—including huge casement windows and weathered concrete pillars—have been restored and recreated.

Like Hotel Emma, the hotel draws on its historical connection by including four site-specific artworks, including a misting steel tree. The property, which opened in June, has 135 guest rooms and 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C., slated to open on September 12, will occupy a building erected in the 1890s that once was home to the U.S. Post Office Department headquarters and the city’s post office. The Romanesque Revival building is undergoing a $200 million transformation into a hotel that will include 263 guest rooms, BLT Prime steakhouse, a fitness center, a spa and 38,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Late last year, Ace Hotel Pittsburgh opened in a structure built in 1920 that housed a YMCA. In a nod to its past, the new 63-room boutique hotel preserved the 4,550-square-foot gymnasium—with a worn wooden floor, vintage benches and a portable bar—as a throwback event space. The property also has preserved the original doors, light fixtures and architectural details.

Embracing current trends, the hotel’s Whitfield restaurant features regionally inspired cuisine and lobby bars offer Stumptown Coffee, craft beer, wine and spirits.

The 174-room The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel in Winston-Salem, North Carolina,  opened in April in the first six floors of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company building, built in 1929.

Formerly the headquarters of R.J. Reynolds company and an inspiration for the Empire State Building in New York City, the hotel maintains the building’s gold-leaf ceilings and lavish brass and marble work. It offers 6,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

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