With the ongoing proliferation of boutique hotel chains like Hyatt’s Andaz, Radisson’s Blu and InterContinental’s Indigo, something unusual has taken place in the minds of many travelers: furniture envy. Thanks to the deep pockets of their parent companies, most boutique concepts boast retro-mod interiors done up by top decorators. But what if you fall in love with that Eames chair or Nelson platform bench? Sorry Charlie, it’s not for sale.
Unless, of course, you happen to be staying at one of Starwood’s Aloft properties.
Thanks to a recent partnership between Aloft parent Starwood Hotels and home-furnishings retailer Design Within Reach, if a guest really digs a piece he sees down in the lounge—say, that funky satellite chandelier or a Verner Panton Chair—he can soon see it, and sit on it, in his den at home. The hotel brand is in the process of fitting out 20 locations with a range of stock pieces from Design Within Reach, the retailer that sells high-quality reproductions of iconic, modernist furniture.
“Aloft is changing the hotel landscape from being purely functional to being stylish and functional, and our partnership with Design Within Reach allows us to further evolve our design and what we’re offering to guests,” said Paige Francis, Aloft’s global marketing vp. The partnership is actually a marketing boost for both brands: Aloft benefits from the imprimatur of a store for affluent hipsters, while DWR is getting a new stream of potential customers.
Not that it’s all so neat and simple, of course. A boutique hotel obviously can’t risk driving the cool cats away by hanging a “For Sale” sign on the back of an Eames chair. That’s why, come next month, DWR catalogs will begin appearing in the guest rooms—a subtle but manifest reminder that the swish furniture downstairs can be purchased. Aloft will also be deploying its social media platforms to raise awareness of the partnership, including launching a contest to win a $10,000 home makeover from DWR.
Nikoleta Panteva, senior analyst for IBISWorld, said that Aloft is simply following the bigger trend of high-end hotels literally selling pieces of themselves (to guests—just not through something as gauche as a gift shop). “It allows customers to take a bit of the hotel experience home with them,” Panteva said, adding that the Aloft/DWR deal makes sense because “they’re targeting the same type of consumer anyway, and it’s a good opportunity for the guest to experience Design Within Reach furniture in real-world use.”
Complete with real-world prices, too. That slick, 60-inch Nelson Platform Bench from Herman Miller will set you back a cool $899.00. Fortunately, last we checked, lounging around the hotel lobby will remain free.