The new Jeff Hotel above the Jefferson Theater on the Downtown Mall was designed with no common areas. But the strategy had nothing to do with the virus currently scaring folks away from such spaces.
The boutique guesthouse relies on modern room-booking trends and technologies to do away with the traditional lobby and onsite customer service of traditional hotels. Much like Airbnb or VRBO, guests book online, arrive at their rooms on their terms, enter using smart lock codes, and communicate with 24/7 on-call staff via email or phone for any needs.
“It’s essentially a new hotel model,” says Drew Thomasson, who manages the property for its Starr Hill ownership group. “It’s more aligned with the short-term rental industry… like a hybrid hotel.”
The strategy was mostly driven by the need to maximize space and create eight well-appointed hotel rooms in the small area once home to apartment units above the Jeff. The second floor directly atop the theater features four suites, each with a bathroom, bedroom, and living space with a pull-out couch. The third floor offers four standard rooms with bed and bath. All have standard amenities like internet, clothes steamers, hair-dryers, and central heating and cooling.
Jeanette Andamasaris and her team at Studio Figure designed the hotel with the same space-maximization mentality. They gutted the old apartments, keeping only plumbing and load-bearing structures, and adhered to an open concept throughout.
“It was an interesting puzzle to get the floor plan we wanted,” Andamasaris says. “We used a really basic palate and materials, and we thought about that even in designing the layout. We just wanted it to feel neutral.”
To combine neutrality and a rock n’ roll aesthetic, Andamasaris and her team turned to Morocco, a popular retreat for ’60s-era musicians like the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. That meant a largely black and white color scheme, simple material adornments that appear to be carved directly in the walls, original artwork over every custom-made king size bed, towering 8-foot doorways, huge sculptural pieces inspired by song titles, and custom wood-perforated screens intended to mimic Morocco’s ornate prints—sans bright colors.
Because Studio Figure worked on the project from the architectural phase through interior design, Andamasaris says her team was able to align the processes.
“We weren’t using much color […] so we used openings and views to create drama,” Andamasaris says. “I think of it as kind of pushing and pulling openings and floor height to allow for impact. That has to be done in the architectural phase.”
Andamasaris says noise attenuation was also a primary concern. Concerts and bustle on the Downtown Mall—not to mention the noise guests themselves can make through each room’s dedicated Marshall amp speaker—stood to hurt the luxury hotel experience. But Thomasson says the rooms are completely soundproof and guests have been happy.
“I’ve had a lot of success booking these places even during the pandemic,” he says. “They launched this specific model at an unexpectedly opportune time. Once people felt more comfortable in the summertime, it’s become a popular way to find accomodations on the Downtown Mall and have a high-end hotel experience.”