When people think of Cleveland, there is an innate stigma attached the Rust Belt city. In a different era, that wouldn’t have been the case, but the city was been dealt a few setbacks since the era of manufacturing and steel, since it was the fifth largest city in the U.S.
I come from a pro-Cleveland background, having lived there for three years and quickly fell in love with the historic neighborhoods, architecture, food, music, art, etc. that pervade the city. But this was in a post-Lebron era, when the city needed the warm embrace of non-natives more than ever. Now, Cleveland is part of the much-written and talked about Rust Belt Renaissance.
I could wax poetic about my adopted home city for thousands of words, but I’ll refrain. I will instead focus on its growing hotel and restaurant scene, only heightened by Lebron James’ return home to Northeast Ohio, Johnny Football (née Manziel) putting on the Cleveland Browns jersey, and the Republican National Convention seeing the potential in the evolving city. Cleveland is hitting its stride and these three hospitality projects prove that.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) opened its first Hotel Indigo on the east side of Cleveland, in its Beachwood neighborhood. Design firm Hospitality Furnishings & Design drew upon Cleveland’s Metroparks, the network of green spaces throughout the city, with murals of the verdant areas and nature-inspired design accents. Guestrooms feature plush bedding, hard-surface flooring with area rugs, and spa-inspired bathrooms.
Jonathan Sawyer, a Cleveland stalwart and well-known and regarded chef behind Noodlecat (the best ramen you’ll find, including in New York; sorry, New Yorkers) and the Greenhouse Tavern, recently opened Trentina. The space, designed by Jonathan’s wife, Amelia Sawyer, plays with metallics, using mirrored tables and gold walls throughout the restaurant. As an homage to Cleveland, the Sawyers collaborated with local furniture and graphic designers, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland on a light installation that features cascading iridescent beads strung together by 500 volunteers for an elaborate design element.
Cleveland’s industrial past informs the design of the Westin Cleveland, designed by New York-based firm McCartan Interior Design. Natural light and materials such as leather, patina wood, and steel infuse the space with a warm ambiance. McCartan created a lighting installation using crane shipping containers that hold old bulbs and are backlit by LED lights. And, on first glance, the colorful flooring in the lobby looks like an area rug but is really mosaics laid on the floor to mimic carpeting. The Westin Cleveland “aspires to a high level of design just like New York does,” founder and principal Colum McCartan told me. “It does have a Cleveland feel to it. It connects to the industrial elements that make up the history of Cleveland.”