1. It’s a boost for Downtown.
While other thoroughfares like Weybosset, Washington and especially Westminster have come alive in recent years, Fountain Street hasn’t quite kept pace. That changes now that the Sportsman’s Inn, a seedy strip club and rooms-by-the-hour motel, is reborn as a design-driven, boutique hotel catering to just the kind of visitor Providence needs: young, upwardly mobile, curious to explore the city, and more inclined to spend money on bar tabs than hotel amenities.
2. But it’s for the locals, too.
Why should you, who already lives here, care about a hotel? Because with it the city gets three new nightlife options and another coffee shop. Faust, a German-style beer hall will offer a well-curated selection of drafts and crafts, along with snacks like sausages and pretzels. The Magdalenae Room will be the hotel’s cocktail bar, inspired by the intimate and swanky hotel bars of Europe. Both are the work of Mike Sears, the reclusive barman behind Lili Marlene’s and Justine’s. Meanwhile, the Boombox will be the city’s “first and only karaoke lounge,” with private party rooms capable of holding up to 20. Ethan Feirstein of The Salon is at the helm of this one. Bolt Coffee is yet another artisanal coffee shop, but when have we ever turned our noses up at more coffee?
3. It’s a different kind of hotel.
Inspired by the new generation of boutique hotels like the Ace, the Pod and the Jane in New York City, the Dean offers small, ultra-affordable, design-forward rooms with a hip, vintage sensibility. Sparse in its amenities – no dressers or closets, for instance, and certainly no gym or pool – the Dean is about giving you “what you need, but nothing more,” according to Brendan Roane, the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing. He adds, “We’d rather have you spend your money out in the city.” Rooms start as low as $79 per night, and many feature bunk beds in place of luxurious kings or queens. Again, the Dean is aimed at the kind of traveler who plans to spend more time and money outside the hotel than in it. Maybe that’s why the rooms will contain intimacy kits instead of Bibles.
4. It’s “by Providence, for Providence.”
Although the Dean is the work of Brooklyn-based real estate and design firm ASH NYC, one of that company’s principals is Providence native Ari Heckman. Clay Rockefeller, co-founder of the Steel Yard, is also a partner in the project. The hotel also features the work of many local artists, artisans and designers: the Steel Yard crafted the desks and chairs; a RISD alum made the cool elephant end tables (pictured left) found in many rooms; the soaps and toiletries contain locally grown herbs; Providence Painted Signs did all the signage; Symposium Books stocked the library in the lobby; and many local edibles like Yacht Club sparkling water, Providence Granola, Glee Gum and Garrison Confections will be available for guests.
5. There is no actual Dean… Or is there?
The Dean Hotel is so named in tribute to the guiding academic figures on college campuses. According to Roane, “The dean is a source of knowledge who shows the way,” which is exactly how the hotel is positioning itself to hip urban travelers who arrive in the city eager to experience what’s cool and exciting. The Dean’s staff and website are intended to be sources of that information for guests. In keeping with the theme, all the rooms feature vintage oil paintings of patrician-looking men who were chosen because they looked like they could be “the dean.”
6. You and your friends can crash there.
The Dean’s low prices and dorm-like rooms are aimed not just at visitors from out of state, but the occasional locals who maybe party too hard Downtown and wind up in need of a place to stay. Several rooms called “the Classmates” feature quad bunks and start as low as $89. Those who plan ahead can rent out “the Heights”, the four connecting suites that make up the fifth floor, to use as the staging ground for an epic night out.
7. The ambience is vintage by design.
Like its boutique hotel ilk in NYC, the Dean has a decidedly retro feel. The rooms feature antique rugs, reclaimed materials, and Edison-style light bulbs. Providence Painted Signs’ design work is in keeping with the throwback vibe, and though there are no phones in the rooms, the hallways and common areas feature rotary phones.
8. The pointy logo means something.
The arrow over the ‘D’ in Dean serves as the hotel’s logo and carries over throughout its motif. Some call it a chevron, used to denote authority in the military; to others, it’s a circumflex, a symbol that guides the way. It’s also a bit of a European affectation, as many French hotels feature the caret (as the symbol is also known in a typographic context) over the ‘O’ in hôtel.
9. There are no shower doors or curtains.
The hotel is trying to create a vibe that’s both utilitarian and sexy. Thus, no doors or curtains on the showers, and some of them even have windows into the room. We just thought you should know that before you book a stay.
10. The rooms are not available by the hour.