The Shinola regime is making an undeniable presence in Detroit and spreading its wings nationwide. It is hard to believe this company began only in 2011, the name being reborn from a shoe polish company that went out of business in 1960. When I left Detroit in 2013, I began seeing their products more frequently, particularly their bicycles. For those unfamiliar with the brand, they produce luxury watches, bicycles, leather goods, clocks, and more. Since their start, they have opened a number of storefronts across the United States and have their product sold by major retailers like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. At the beginning of 2019, they opened the doors to the Shinola Hotel located on the main thoroughfare (Woodward Avenue) in downtown Detroit. This opening added to the rebirth of a downtown area that was certainly eagerly awaiting change.
I want to delve into my stay from start to finish. We did rent a car for our weekend jaunt in Detroit. Due to some construction taking place in front of the hotel, it was down to one passing lane and a small secondary area to pull in and unload baggage. There were cars backed around the corner and nearly blocking the intersection, particularly on the weekend. This created the appearance of chaos. Make sure you are aware when the valet is operating. We checked in on Saturday for a check out on Monday. We tried to valet the car Sunday evening and were told that there would be no one to retrieve the car Monday morning. They directed us to a garage nearby, and we had to pay for parking. Also, their valet charge was $32. This was a bit of a nuisance.
The hotel encompasses a total of five buildings, two of which were the former Singer building and T. B. Rayl Co. store. Singer was home to the famous sewing machine company. Rayl’s was designed by the architect Wirt Rowland. I will mention another one of his buildings in my post A Walk Through History, the Guardian Building. He was well known for his work on a number of buildings in downtown Detroit, and they are beautiful.
Walking inside the lobby, the interior did not disappoint. The seating area immediately to the right of the check in has funky and eclectic art adorning the walls. My favorite was the large beaded circular piece by Nick Cave staring you down when you walk in the room. Everything together makes this one quirky yet memorable room. If you want to know more about the art, just head to their website http://shinolahotel.com/artwork and you can learn more about a select few. Going to the left of the check in desk, you can walk to the elevators and a back entrance to the Shinola store.
The check in process was pretty smooth, and we went upstairs to our room. For those that are local or traveling via car, the hotel is pet friendly. Being a dog owner, I always take note of hotels that accommodate furry friends. Stepping off the elevator, I noticed the hallways had flair and character. The floor and much of the paneling was a light wood with pops of color from artwork and furniture in a few select seating areas. I booked the Den King. The room was really spacious and rather minimalist. There were a few things that I really loved in our room. The mini bar offered Shinola cola amongst other things. Their robes were navy with a hood and Detroit spelled out across the back in white lettering. The closet also contained a high quality umbrella for use if needed. Finally, I enjoyed many of the accessories and products. The clock and outlets/surge protectors all belong to the brand and are available for sale at Shinola stores. I love the desk clocks and have since purchased one. The power supply cords are probably about as attractive as a power supply cord can get, and they come in a variety of colors. It really is the ultimate way to advertise your products. Finally, they did have some interesting bath products labeled Rayl’s. I have to imagine this was a tribute to the buildings previous owner. What I could find is that this scent was designed specifically for the hotel, the Shinola signature scent. It was bold and certainly left its mark.
As far as things to do in and immediately adjacent to the hotel, there are some options. The restaurants are plentiful. We did not try anything in the hotel. The one that I heard great things about was San Morello, which is right on the corner of Woodward Avenue. I regret not stopping here for a meal. Also, in the hotel and alley behind, you will find the Evening Bar, The Brakeman, and Penny Red’s. In another post, I will review a number of dining options in downtown. There is a gym in the hotel for those interested. There are no spa services offered at the hotel. Finally, there are many options for shopping. I already mentioned the namesake Shinola store. Next door, you will find many other fun options like Detroit is the New Black, Le Labo, The Lip Bar, and Madewell.
Overall, I have to say that the Shinola Hotel left me impressed. Minus some minor glitches with parking, our stay was quite enjoyable. Seeing the changes in downtown Detroit put a smile on my face. After living in a glorious downtown that was being neglected for years, I am so thrilled to see places such as the Shinola Hotel breathing new life into an area that was not too long ago forgotten.