At Longman & Eagle, a tiny inn set in Chicago's artsy Logan Square neighborhood, it's pretty clear you're in hipsterdom the moment you check in. You pick up your key from the bearded barkeep at the downstairs gastropub, then head to a room with a custom wall mural, a (modern) Apple TV, and a (retro-cool) cassette player.
You generally know a hipster hotel when you see it -- like Longman & Eagle, it's most likely located in an up-and-coming neighborhood and filled with amenities that appeal to a creative-minded and tech-savvy clientele. Retro, of course, reigns. And staffers, who might include a resident DJ or tattoo artist, come clad in the latest downtown-hip fashion.
The modern hipster hospitality phenomenon traces back to the Ace Hotel, a pioneering brand owned by Alexander Calderwood that opened its first property in Seattle in the late '90s (its fifth outlet will open in L.A. in fall 2013). Its name references the playing card, either the highest or lowest in the deck, and every Ace establishment offers a hierarchy of accommodations: from budget, hostel-style rooms -- where there's a shared bathroom down the hall -- to indulgent, rock star-style pads, with turntables and customized Gibson guitars.
It appears that Calderwood, along with fellow trailblazer André Balazs--who opened the first Standard in Hollywood in 1998--tapped into something of a cultural zeitgeist. Today, more and more hoteliers are jumping on the budget boutique bandwagon, opening properties that range from the industrial and retro-mod to the avant-garde and cutting-edge, and even to the downright quirky.
See More of America's Coolest Hipster HotelsThough no longer Montauk’s wildest party spot, the original “hampster” hotel is on our list for its pioneer status and creative, surf-inspired design. New managers have pushed a number of green and holistic initiatives as well as an outdoor concert series that draws indie rockers like Courtney Love and the Kills.Photo: Douglas Lyle Thompson
See More of America's Coolest Hipster HotelsThis glammed-up roadside lodge boasts a prime hipster location in Portland’s increasingly trendy LoBu neighborhood. You’ll find indie coffee shops, vintage clothing boutiques, and some of the city’s coolest rock venues, like the adjacent Doug Fir Lodge. Mod minimalist rooms, the scene for most post-show parties, come with wall-length photo murals, eco-friendly bath products, and quirky chalkboard doors. Photo: Jen Hecht
See More of America's Coolest Hipster HotelsThis unique, scholastic-themed property embodies Portland quirkiness. Housed in converted classrooms—the building was once a neighborhood elementary school—guest rooms feature chalkboards, playful little water fountains, and children’s coat hooks. While the TV show Portlandia may have relegated the city’s McMenamins hospitality empire into the “over” category, the hotel’s on-site microbrewery, art-house cinema, and moody cigar lounge (called the Detention Room) are still beloved hangouts for local hipsters. Photo: Courtesy of Kennedy School
See More of America's Coolest Hipster HotelsSome of the modern hipster’s most revered icons, from David Bowie and Johnny Rotten to Vincent Gallo and Johnny Depp, have holed up at the kitschy-chic Phoenix, a former roadside “no-tell” set in San Francisco’s still-gentrifying Tenderloin District. The hotel’s ultimate concept is based on Rolling Stone Magazine, and—to that end—owner Chip Conley lures traveling musicians and rock band managers with discounts and free massages, a model that’s been replicated by hipster hotels around the country. Photo: Courtesy of The Phoenix Hotel
See More of America's Coolest Hipster HotelsEverything about this Williamsburg newcomer is locally sourced, from the artisanal furnishings and eco-friendly bath products to the ingredients at Reynards, the property’s sustainable “haute barnyard” restaurant. Upstairs “band rooms” cater to musicians playing shows at the adjacent Brooklyn Bowl, while Vice magazine (i.e. the bible of hipster snark) collaborated with the hotel for a recent on-site street-art exhibit. Photo: Courtesy of Wythe Hotel
See More of America's Coolest Hipster HotelsModeled after vintage sleeper cars in The Darjeeling Limited, “cabin” rooms at the Jane are some of the cheapest ($99) and tiniest (a meager 50 square feet) in all of Manhattan. There’s no shortage of space, though, inside the hotel’s pièce de résistance: the grandiose Jane Ballroom. Late-night revelry at this hipster-beloved party spot inspired a community protest blog (titled Nightmare on Jane), making the Jane one of the most infamous (and coolest) hotels on our list. Photo: Gregory Goode
See More of America's Coolest Hipster Hotels Today there are hundreds of hotels with turntables, vinyl collections, and artsy graffiti-inspired wall murals (as well as quirky bathroom fixtures, resident DJs, curated bedside reading, and retro bike rentals), but you can trace it all back to this pioneering, Seattle-based chain, the brainchild of self-described cultural engineer Alexander Calderwood. Each property offers a site-specific design—NYC is all about industrial salvage while the look at Ace Palm Springs is vintage desert-chic—and a wide range of accommodations, from cheaper hostel-style rooms to elaborate “rockstar” pads with custom Gibson guitars.Photo: Jessica Schwartzberg
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