While Providence has earned a reputation for fostering creativity in food and the arts (not to mention official organized crime), its accommodations have been less inspiring. Now, as the city becomes an increasingly desirable place to visit, the hotels are beginning to keep pace. The Dean, in particular, is a harbinger of change, bringing a taste of what’s happening with hotels in New York, Los Angeles and London, to a New England city in the midst of a cultural renaissance.
With white-washed walls, hand-painted room numbers, and showers without doors, The Dean is the minimalist traveler’s dream. Built in 1912, the structure has undergone every imaginable incarnation of a gentlemen’s club, including a stint as a fried chicken spot owned by Roger Clemens. Most recently, it has been dutifully renovated and impeccably curated with the intention of being an experience and not just a place to hang your hat.
Owner and designer ASH NYC has created an environment of 52 rooms (suites, standards and bunk beds) that are decorated with an eclectic mix of vintage furniture and locally-sourced artwork, thus adding respectable quirkiness and worldly mystique to each individual space. This kind of thoughtfulness is precisely what defines The Dean, and you’ll notice immediately that the typical amenities (phone, Bible, watery bath product) have been tossed to the curb in favor of more exquisite options, like fried-chicken chocolate bars, Maine-made woolen blankets and custom-scented toiletries. They’ve even added their own espresso bar to the lobby, using beans by local roaster Bolt Coffee.
The Dean is also dedicated to enhancing nightlife in Providence, with three separate options for gathering, imbibing and mingling. Faust’s Hofbrauhaus, the most current venture from Providence restaurateur Mike Sears, offers the big communal tables, a dedicated Bavarian draught list and house-made Bavarian pretzels. Sears is also responsible for the hotel’s The Magdalenae Room, a cocktail lounge that employs mixology, fine woodworking and a dim atmosphere to evoke the European cocktail lounge. Lastly, The Boombox is a Korean karaoke spot clad in red leather, checkerboard floors and with private rooms available by the hour.
You could have a complete night out — then in — at the Dean, and the social amenities are a major selling point for travelers accustomed to staying at boutique hotels rather than big box luxury properties. Even better, though, is that you’re doing it for roughly half of what you’d pay in New York or Los Angeles. Another selling point for Providence, as if there weren’t enough.