Sunday, April 29, 2012

PaliHotel Melrose

An Upscale Hostel?

Update July 2013
I see that Conde Nast has designated this hotel on their "Hot New Hotels in 2013" list.  

Maybe in the intervening time since writing this it this hotel has improved dramatically. Otherwise, a magazine whose mantra is "Truth in Travel" just dropped a notch in my estimation.

Some background. As an architect I am in the business of creating buildings that exploit the potential of their site within the parameters of my client's budget. It is always a delicate balance. With new construction options are pretty varied. With renovations, we know that the parameters on our options may be more limited.

For many years urban expansion in the US has been characterized by leapfrog development that crept further and further from the historic core of our city's. The result? Soulless suburbs with gated enclaves served by anonymous linear strip malls.

And while capital investment rushed to the suburbs, abandoned urban spaces were left to crumble. This wasted land, isolated communities, and made us 100% dependent on our cars.

LA was the poster kid for this. And, of course, it has never been a sustainable development model.

Now a troubled economy has focused market interest in the re-imagining of older, well placed, and underutilized building stock.

And fun new spaces are emerging via adaptive reuse. Inserting new restaurants, lofts, and retail spaces into old buildings, with modern infrastructure can make them appealing, while being environmentally sensitive. It also frequently allows a new business to launch much faster than if they had to build everything from scratch.

When done right adaptive reuse can be amazing.

So when I saw a teaser ad for LA's newly renovated Palihotel Melrose in the very wonderful Tablet Hotels e-newsletter I figured I'd give it a try.

The PaliHotel Melrose

The hotel is just a block west of Fairfax on Melrose. That is, by any measure, a great location. An energetic walk to the Farmer's Market, close to Canter's 24-hour restaurant, and right in the middle of lots of cool Melrose shops.

But there are some issues.

When I arrived I had to maneuver my rental car into the garage beneath the building. Parking is very limited and costs an extra $20 per night (the in-room hotel data says it should have cost $15). The garage is not served by an elevator, so if anyone in your party requires a wheelchair cross this hotel right off your list.

I know the hotel is new, and staff is getting acclimated, but the desk staff seemed indifferent to being there. The cafe did not appear to be open. There is no bar (yet?).

Maybe my code date is too far past, but for $200-$300 a night (even in LA) here is what I'd like:
1. I'd like a hotel with a fitness room and pool or hydrotherapy unit. None here.
2. I'd like a quiet room with a clock radio in it. Nope and nope.
3. I'd like an in-room coffee maker. Forget it.
4. I'd like to be able to control the heating and cooling in my room (i.e. my very own thermostat). Nada.
5. I'd like a decent work desk with proper lighting and a comfortable chair. No, no, and no.
6. I'd like a closet to hang up my clothes in and somewhere to put my suitcase. No and no.
7. I'd like an in-room phone. Seriously No?
8. I'd like a king sized bed. PaliHotel has never heard of em.

They obviously didn't forget all this stuff, they simply chose to ignore it.

The Bed (Nightstands Are Little Round Metal Stools)

The building has been cosmetically renovated. But, at its heart, it is a wooden structure with thin partitions and doors (without self closers?)

Finishes run the gamut of every possible shade of "too dark". Halls are covered by Tara quality heavy drapes (albeit good for their acoustical value.) Lighting in halls is best described as eerie with big filament bulbs. The designer had a fetish for filament bulbs.

My mattress and bed linens were excellent. The wireless internet worked fine. The TV was great. The mini bar had chocolates by Dean and Delucca! Can't complain there! The shower head was huge with greeat water pressure. Yippie! But......the pressure left me standing in a tub full of water due to a plugged tub drain. Yuk!

There was one plush robe (my romantic side suggests two in a room with a queen bed?) There were fine toiletries.

The Bathroom was Decent Sized

The Work Desk, Filament Light, and Odd Chair
Cute But Total Rubbish to Actually Use

A Ladder to Replace A Real Closet?

The PaliHotel tried too hard to be cool. And traded away basic hotel features. It actually comes off more like a (very) high priced youth hostel.

With some serious tweaking it can be great. But till then, for those who want to stay near The Grove / Farmers Market / CBS Studios, think Farmer's Daughter on Fairfax.

Roadboy's Travels © 2012

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