Glamorous Life: Hotel nightclub blends art-deco style with lounge vibe
Kansas City’s newest nightclub, Hotel, recently opened its doors at the corner of 13th and Grand in the Power & Light District, and since then curious patrons have made their way past the velvet ropes and discovered that stepping onto Hotel’s black-and-gold lacquered floors is like stepping back to a more luxe and decadent period in KC’s not-so-distant past.
The design is art-deco, with eight cushy booths ringed around a central dance floor and a long, impressively stocked bar. Hotel transforms what was once P&L storage space into a Gotham City penthouse.
“It makes me think that, if I had grown up in Kansas City at a different time, this is how it would feel in the bar at one of the old hotels,” says Brian Collins, Hotel’s managing partner.
Historically, Collins is spot on. Charles Ferruzza, food critic and resident historian at The Pitch, says there was a time when Kansas City’s hotels were glamorous nightlife destinations. “The big hotels — the Muehlebach, Hotel Baltimore, the President Hotel, the Phillips House — almost always had two restaurants, a fancy one and a coffee shop, and a snazzy lounge,” Ferruzza says. “The restaurants were usually the finest in town because the hotels could afford the best chefs. The top show rooms were the Drum Room and the Hotel President, which placed some big-name acts, and the Muehlebach’s Plantation Grill, where the legendary Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra had a regular gig.”
At Hotel, the musical entertainment is less Glenn Miller, more Lady Gaga. Before Collins was poached by P&L to open Mosaic in 2008, Collins was the GM at Blonde on the Country Club Plaza (may it rest in peace). For Hotel, Collins tapped DJ Mike Scott, formerly Blonde’s resident DJ, to man the decks nightly. And while Hotel’s dark interior lends the space a sumptuously laid-back vibe, Scott’s dance-heavy playlist turns the dance floor into an elbow-to-elbow sea of party people.
“To me, Mike is the best DJ in Kansas City,” says Collins, who adds that he plans to bring in national, touring DJs on occasion, “to make the night fresh.” His all-time favorite mixologists, DJ Stonerokk and DJ Graham Funke (aka The Captains of Industry), played Hotel’s opening night.
And don’t look for beds at Hotel. Collins purposely avoided a literal take on the club’s moniker, but he did throw in a few hotel-esque touches. In the restrooms, guests will find mints — the kind that a maid might leave on your pillow — and condoms with Hotel’s logo printed on the wrappers. There’s nothing taboo about encouraging safe sex.
“I definitely didn’t want any beds,” Collins says. “People still think they can reserve beds in here.”
Bottle service dominates the VIP club landscape, and Hotel is no different, though they do offer a unique take: if the guests at a table can’t decide on just one breed of booze, Collins says, they may order a 20-piece mini-bar of “airplane-size” bottles (50ml, typically) with which to mix and match and play bartender. Bottle service is required to reserve one of Hotel’s eight tables. Guests find their place saved by a personalized “Do Not Disturb” door-hanger.
At just 5,500 square feet, for a capacity that tops out at 206 people, Hotel is an intimate space, to say the least. “It’s small, but quaint,” Collins acknowledges. The size prevents Hotel from being confused with a club by the same name in Kentucky, which also was developed by the Cordish Co. for Louisville’s 4th Street Live! entertainment district. Louisville’s Hotel was a massive club that could hold 900 people, a rare feat for any club outside of, say, Miami or Los Angeles. Hotel in Louisville was shuttered at the beginning of this year, nearly five years after its 2007 opening, and is undergoing re-branding.
“I think if you get to the three- or four-year mark, you’re probably doing it right,” Collins says of the club business. “Mosaic is still going strong in its fourth year. So it is possible, it’s just hard.”
Hotel is open from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Sunday. For information, visit hotelnightclubkc.com
Did you know?
The margarita is the alcoholic drink ordered most and martinis come in second, according to the Cheers On-Premise BARometer Handbook, published by The Beverage Information Group. Rum and Coke is No. 3. And when it comes to beers, Corona is the best-selling imported beer, edging out Heineken.
Photo by Paper Crane Photography