It’s the urban trend of the moment: so-called second-tier U.S. cities stealing cachet (and young creative talent) from the bigger guns. Now they’re getting lodgings to match. Take Virginia’s capital, where the J.B. Mosby & Co. department store – a relic from 1916 – has been ingeniously transformed into the art-themed Quirk Hotel. Cloying name aside, it’s become the destination in a revitalized downtown, and an emblem of Richmond’s Arts & Cultural District. A rooftop terrace offers skyline views, while the Maple & Pine restaurant – a reference to the Quirk’s lustrous century-old wood floors – has a zingy fresh tomato verbena consommé and a buttermilk fried chicken we’d drive across Virginia to eat.
If Pittsburgh isn’t a contender for the coolest city in America right now, someone’s got “cool” all wrong. Cool means a fanatical sports town that’s also defined by high culture (museums, universities, its own Carnegie Hall), where Roberto Clemente and Andy Warhol are held in equal esteem. Cool means a food scene that’s both current and cozily retro, globally informed yet grounded in place. Where thirty and seventy-somethings drink at the same perfectly aged bars. And cool now means having an Ace Hotel, which took over a 1909 YMCA building in the percolating East Liberty district, then staffed it with proud Pittsburghers excited to share their town. How cool is that!
…. AND BALTIMORE
The only hitch at The Ivy Hotel is the temptation to hole up there all day long. Sure, you could step right out and explore vibrant Mount Vernon, or have a hotel car drop you anywhere in town. 24/7 –and there’s a hell of a lot to do, see, and eat in Baltimore these days. But with those deep sunken tubs, soft cashmere throws on canopied beds, and extras like free movies and free minibar booze, can we blame you for never wanting to leave?