A recently opened hotel at the intersection of Chicago’s Bucktown and Wicker Park neighbourhoods claims to be home to the first-ever “social stay.” The Hollander, operated by Grupo Habita, makes it possible for guests to meet and engage with one another prior to arrival, through Instagram. At the time of booking, guests are asked to provide their Instagram handle. The Hollander takes it from there. “We want to do for our guests what social media does for the world: bring us all closer together through shared experiences,” the hotel’s website explains.
That philosophy was the guiding principle for Delordinaire, the Paris- and Montreal-based firm behind the hotel’s design. The brief was to create a “high-design hotel that gives the opportunity to digitally connected locals, visitors and guests to interact,” the firm says. “A high density of functions with little to no separation between them, to encourage interaction.”
To that end, Delordinaire devised a layout where barriers between the hotel’s diverse amenity spaces are blurred or removed. An in-house guest laundromat connects to the open-plan lobby and reception, where hotel visitors can relax on circular leather banquettes and low-slung chairs with woven seats and backs – the firm’s own designs – while waiting for their clothes to dry.
The street level also contains a hotel-operated cafe and a bike repair counter that share space at an eight-metre-long wood bench. “The design encourages locals and guests to cross paths and interact in a laid back context,” the firm explains.
The concept of interaction is continued in the hotel’s mix of 12 private rooms and eight shared suites, which feel like a high-design hostel space. The rooms comprise a mix of queen, twin and bunk beds, each with personal reading lights and some with personal lockers. The materials are simple: Delordinaire custom-built the beds, from birch plywood and black steel, as well as the folded steel shelving. Existing concrete floors were retained and piping was left exposed.
The overall vibe is, in Delordinaire’s own words, “elegant but utilitarian” – a nod to the history of the hotel’s home, the Hollander Fireproof Warehouse building. Built in 1905 as a furniture storage facility, it’s a memento of Chicago’s industrial history.
“Rather than import a design aesthetic, we wanted to respect and celebrate the city’s industrial and building heritage and the local area’s vibrant social scene,” the firm says. “We left much of the original Hollander building untouched and exposed. The walls, ceilings and floors are visible throughout the space. Conduit is also left exposed and neon lights punctuate the corridors. The primary materials on the ground floor are cement board panels, cement tiles and birch plywood.”