As Pittsburgh has continued to grow as a tourist destination, new hotels have been opening up to meet the demand. One of the largest areas of industry growth has been seen in boutique hotels; smaller hotels located in more urban areas that feature approximately 100 rooms or less.
According to The Boutique Hotel Report 2020, pre-COVID, boutique hotels were the fastest growing sector of the hotel industry, outpacing extended stay and upscale hotels. It adds that one of the reasons for this is that boutique hotels provide a more intimate experience for the customer, often offering curated local experiences and an atmosphere more associated with normal living.
People visiting Pittsburgh—or even those who live here who want somewhere more exotic to stay—have a wealth of choices when it comes to staying downtown or in some of Pittsburgh’s more cutting-edge neighborhoods. In many cases, they can not only stay in a fairly new hotel, but one that pays homage to the city’s roots.
The Industrialist, which opened this past May, is located in the landmark Arrott Building downtown. The 124-room hotel, which features spacious rooms, a stunning second-floor lobby lounge, 1,200 sq. ft. of multipurpose event space and downtown’s newest restaurant, The Rebel Room, pays homage to the Steel City’s modern spirit of ingenuity.
“Our goal was to honor the city’s history of innovation and the makers, while also telling the story of the new industrialists making Pittsburgh what it is today,” said General Manager Robert Brashler at the hotel’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Renovating the 1902 masterpiece, once the tallest building in Pittsburgh, was no easy task, according to Brashler, who added that opening it during the pandemic didn’t make it any easier. Still, the property is becoming a favorite of those who want modern lifestyle and luxury amenities while celebrating Pittsburgh’s past.
The Oaklander Hotel, opened in 2019, also combines Pittsburgh’s industrial past with its cutting edge future. This Autograph Collection hotel, part of the Marriott family of brands, is located in the center of Oakland and features outstanding service and inspired design, according to Director of Sales and Marketing Jackie Gillespie.
“We sit at the heart of campus—at the heart of the med, ed and tech world of Oakland,” she explained of the hotel’s prime location. “Our design pulls in a lot of the elements of the locality—for example, our plaid carpeting is a wink and a nod to the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans; our gold and blue ballroom carpeting is a nod to Pitt, and the brown leather fabric of the chaises in the rooms was inspired by the baseball mitts used at the old Forbes Field, which was located two blocks away.”
Other design elements pay tribute to the oak trees that originally gave Oakland its name; the hotel’s 167 rooms feature custom white oak case goods, artwork featuring cross sections of tree trunks, and the 10th floor public space also features custom white oak paneling. Even the hotel’s signature scent program incorporates the thematic elements with fragrance notes of smoke and cedar, along with tobacco and clover honey.
Guests not only appreciate this attention to detail, but the hotel’s impressive check-in experience, which includes registration on the tenth floor, where they get a bird’s-eye view of the area, and convenient on-site valet parking. Its top floor restaurant, Spirits & Tales, is known for top-notch food and an extensive bar program. The Oaklander is consistently ranked in the Top 20 of all Autograph hotels nationwide in guest service.
Set in the historic Washington Education Center building at the base of the 40th Street Bridge, TRYP Pittsburgh | Lawrenceville is a boutique neighborhood hotel located in the center of what TIME and Money magazine named “The Coolest Neighborhood in America.” The 108-room hotel is home to two restaurants, a coffee bar, a rooftop restaurant offering city and neighborhood views, and two distinct event spaces for celebrations and events.
“What’s really unique about this hotel is that it is located in a renovated old school building,” said Logan Lehrman, TRYP social media and marketing director. “We kept a lot of the original artwork from the school, as well as architectural details like the original staircase, stained glass window and school lockers.”
Much of the trade school’s history is interpreted in the design, and each floor features local art installations that reflect the trades taught in that space.
The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, in the Beaux Arts-style James H. Reed building, has had many lives since it was first built in 1903, including serving as an electric company and a law firm. Today, while the exterior retains its original glory, the inside is vibrant and whimsical with bold pops of color.
“The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh stands out in many ways; however, the two that most quickly come to mind are our design and our service,” said General Manager Rob Mallinger. “The bright colors and patterns in our public spaces contrast well with the darker, labyrinth-like guestroom corridors, and although we’ve got 248 rooms, our space feels very intimate.
“The thoughtful detail that went into every decision tells so many stories,” he added. “Whether it’s the ornate millwork and grand columns in our ballroom area, the shades of black and marigold in our meeting space or the eclectic artwork throughout the building, the conversation with and amongst our guests about our design never ceases to amaze me.”
The hotel, located in the heart of downtown, was awarded AAA’s Four Diamond award in 2020 and was rated the #1 Hotel in Pittsburgh 2020 by U.S. News & World Report.
“Our guests love the fact that our service is genuine and heartfelt,” said Mallinger. “They feel well taken care of but in a very approachable and unpretentious way. It’s that balance that really makes our guests feel welcomed and appreciated when they stay with us.”
More Places to Lay Your Head
A unique Pittsburgh boutique hotel, Mansions on Fifth was once home to one of Pittsburgh’s most prominent attorneys. Featuring boutique luxury accommodations, the Shadyside hotel is known for its understated elegance, sophistication and opulence and offers an escape in what was once known as Pittsburgh’s Millionaire’s Row.
The Hotel Indigo® Pittsburgh East Liberty is a beautifully restored boutique hotel in the heart of Pittsburgh’s historic East Liberty neighborhood, full of décor and design touches that showcase the community’s theatre, entertainment and charitable heritage. A vibrant modern color palette, complemented by natural light and locally influenced design and decor, make for an inviting, stylish and refreshing atmosphere. The hotel is also pet-friendly.
Carefully restored to modern standards, the Priory Hotel is a 42-room historic boutique hotel located on the North Shore. Once a Benedictine monastery, the hotel features all of the amenities of a large downtown property with the personality and personal service that only a smaller, European-style hotel can offer.
Past meets present in downtown Pittsburgh at the Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh, Curio Collection by Hilton, which is housed in the former Salvation Army Building on the Boulevard of the Allies. The 1920s structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, features contemporary design alongside original limestone, woodwork, and stained glass.
The AC Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown reflects smart, timeless European design. One of the newest downtown Pittsburgh hotels, its location on Smallman Street puts it a short walk away from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the Strip District, PPG Paints Arena, the Cultural District and Market Square.