The Detroit Foundation Hotel in the central business district has been recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the best new and reborn properties worldwide. For its 2018 annual list, the magazine cited 56 hotels for hospitality excellence worldwide. The Foundation Hotel was one of seven hotels from the United States that made the list.
The $28-million hotel, owned by the Aparium Hotel Group in Chicago and several local investors, is located at 234-250 W. Larned St. and across Washington Blvd. from Cobo Center. It was the former headquarters for the Detroit Fire Department, while a neighboring building served as the Pontchartrain Wine Cellars. Since renovated and opened last spring, the hotel offers 100 rooms, the Apparatus Room restaurant, meeting space, and numerous amenities.
The Apparatus Room pays homage to the region through partnerships with local distillers, brewers, farmers, and purveyors. Chef Thomas Lents, with two Michelin stars (the only one in Michigan), was most recently executive chef of the two Michelin-starred Sixteen inside the Trump Tower in Chicago. Lents is a Michigan native.
A chef’s table located in a mezzanine overlooking the restaurant offers a destination prix fixe experience. It also serves as an incubator for up-and-coming chefs and a homecoming platform for great chefs who have left the area.
“This is a huge deal, and an unbelievable honor,” says Bob Lambert, general manager of the Detroit Foundation Hotel. “The writers and editors of Travel +Leisure traveled the world last year visiting thousands of new and newly renovated properties, identifying those they believed were providing an exceptional experience – and therefore would be game changers for their readers. They narrowed the list down to 100 before sitting down again and hashing it out to identify the best 56. We are one of only seven in the United States on this list.”
For the hotel’s recognition, Travel + Leisure writer Kristen Dold wrote the following:
“The revived rust belt city finally has a hotel as hip as the millennial makers swarming Detroit’s streets. Built within the city’s former fire department headquarters downtown, the fix-story, 100-key hotspot —open since last May — pays homage to the old Detroit (original details, like the arched, terra-cotta firehouse entrance and red doors remain intact) but drips with the new. A podcast studio that doubles as a gallery faces the street, in-room minibars swap out Snickers for locally made treats and snacks, and collaborations with bustling neighborhood businesses — like in-room suit tailoring with retailer 1701 Bespoke — capture the city’s spirit of communal creativity. (There’s enough luxury, like Le Labo bath products, velvet sofas, and vintage rugs, mixed in to keep the aesthetic cozy.) Take at least one meal inside the sprawling Apparatus Room, where the firetrucks used to go — it’s now a playground where Michelin-starred Michigan native Thomas Lents wows with elevated Midwestern ingredients and craft cocktails. You hardly have to step outside of the hotel to soak up the spirit of the city, but be sure to take advantage of the complimentary bike rental: a few blocks south is the Detroit Riverwalk (wave across the water to Canada); a few blocks north sits Campus Martius Park, where a sandy ‘beach’ and lounge chairs pop up in the summer months.”