Angad Adds To The Arts
Written By Johnny Fugitt
Hotel Photos By Alise O’Brien
What makes a boutique hotel a boutique hotel? Colloquially, some may simply refer to a small hotel as a boutique. Others may define a boutique a one-off concept, the antithesis of the corporate hotel brand. Others still may associate the term with a price point (higher), setting (urban) or just the idea that each room is unique.
However defined, a number of St. Louis’ independent, or boutique, hotels have stood the test of time to become landmarks for St. Louisans and recommended lodging options for visitors. The Chase Park Plaza Hotel, The Cheshire Hotel, The Moonrise Hotel and Hotel Ignacio immediately come to mind. A new generation of boutique hotels is in development in St. Louis, mostly downtown, capitalizing on the national realization that an experience in a historic or unique setting matters more than a few extra reward points.
Steve Smith, CEO of the Lawrence Group, made it clear this $65 million project is significantly different in a number of ways. “The Angad Arts Hotel is an immersive arts experience, more so than a boutique hotel,” he says.
The development is, is fact, one of the more unique hotel openings in the country. It starts with rooms that, according to Smith, are the first to be booked by “the emotion of color” with options of Passion Red, Tranquility Blue, Rejuvenation Green and Happiness Yellow. Picasso stated that “Colors…follow the changes of the emotions,” but, at Angad, it can be the other way around with color helping direct emotion. A deluge of color, not just a bright accent piece here or there, engulfs the guest. Somehow the non-offensive shades and serene landscapes of traditional hotel décor become something worse – soulless - when compared to the vibrant hues at Angad.
The ability to book a room by color has received national attention, but this is only one facet of the development. “The Angad Arts Hotel stands out because it is a wholly new hospitality experience,” says Smith. “AAH was created to link artists with the community, existing as both an ever-changing art gallery and hotel.” The public spaces include art, but are also stages for pop-up performances and exhibitions.
Angad is one more piece in the growing Grand Center Arts District, complimenting the nearby Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall and .ZACK. The Arts District forms the eastern anchor of the revitalized corridor following Forest Park Parkway to the Central West End. “There is $8 billion in active and announced projects in the 5 square mile area of the central corridor,” says Smith. “AAH contributes to the robust renaissance that is happening in the area, and provides the kind of unique, innovative, and entrepreneurial business that is becoming the signature of St. Louis’s midtown area.”
St. Louis is a city fiercely proud of its neighborhoods, sports teams and homegrown talent, but is also a city that builds international brands and thinks globally. This balance can be seen with Angad. While it seeks to develop and display local artists, it also aspires to cultivate a national presence. One such way of achieving this is through the partnership with Chef David Burke.
Burke is a celebrity chef in the truest sense of the term. He spent many critically-acclaimed, award-winning years in the relative privacy of New York’s kitchens before television revealed the public persona seen on the likes of Top Chef Masters. He has since opened restaurants across the country, with Grand Tavern by David Burke the first in St. Louis.
This partnership was formed by the hotel’s Executive Managing Director, David Miskit. As Smith states, “David was able to attract David Burke to St. Louis with our vision for an arts hotel. David Burke’s menu, which is whimsical and artistic, is the perfect compliment to the Angad Arts Hotel.”
“Our food is visually creative, artistic and clever, like most of the artwork throughout the hotel,” says Burke. “It’s happy art that shows emotion, and we want to evoke the same through our food.”
Grand Tavern’s diners can expect to taste a little bit of New York and a little bit of St. Louis. Some of Burke’s signature dishes, including the Clothesline Baconand Emotional Lobster Dumplings,are on the menu to save you the trip to New York (forget that…go anyway!). Burke’s Himalayan salt brick dry-aged steaks may also become favorites. Other offerings were created just for this outpost and play off St. Louis favorites. Gooey Butter Donutsare on the dessert menu and the BBQ Brisket with Mac & Cheese “Toast”is a dressed-up cousin to the classic St. Louis Slinger.
Burke has also enjoyed exploring the St. Louis restaurant scene with stops including Brasserie, Sidney Street Café, Pastaria, Vicia and Yellowbelly. “There is a nice variety and energy to push the envelope in St. Louis,” he says. “I’ve been impressed with everything from the standbys like Pappy’s to these new concepts...I’d like to think we are adding to that list with Grand Tavern.”
As one might expect from a restaurant inside a hotel, Tavern is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with brunch on the way. Upstairs, Angad Rainbow Terrace offers colorful drinks with a city view. The indoor-outdoor rooftop bar also includes a pared-down version of the Tavern’s menu.
Quoting his late partner on the project, Angad Paul, Smith asked, “What is art but seeing the world in a different way? What is life but a series of experiences connected together?” This is the ethos of the Angad Arts Hotel as it offers much more than a place to sleep. It wants to be a hotel where guests are so impacted that, when later recalling details of a St. Louis trip to friends, they spend more time talking about where they stayed than what they did around town.