SAN FRANCISCO—Peekaboo! Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has found an inspired way to surprise and delight guests with a playful and personal touch in guestroom closets.
“It all started as an idea in one property, and since guests were appreciating the effort and getting a good laugh or being charmed in some way, we decided that it could be something fun to introduce in all of our properties,” said Ave Bradley, creative director & SVP of design, Kimpton.
As guests unearthed these secret treasures in guestrooms, the brand cultivated a sense of discovery and created a memorable experience during the stay.
“Each Kimpton property is unique, and we like to customize each location with aspects of the city that they are located in,” said Bradley. “By providing guests with a small surprise in their closets, we not only give them something to look forward to while staying in different Kimptons, but we also are able to provide them with a little history of the city they are staying in.”
Bradley noted that the process has been a source of curious research, and fun, creative ideas have sprung forth as team members challenge themselves to see what we can come up with, usually with some local insight.
“We love that we’re putting a lighthearted touch to an area of the guestroom that tends to be overlooked by hotels—the closet,” she said. “Depending on what type of trip the guest is taking, they may or may not open the closet door to begin with. If they do, though, they’ll find an array of delightful items. For starters, every guestroom closet has a Kimpton yoga mat and a uniquely designed robe (ranging from menswear to shibori print).”
Each Kimpton hotel is unique in its design, aesthetic and theme. “To carry this idea into each guestroom, we also created the closet smile, an unexpected element that has a local connection or unique story,” she said. “It could be a design touch like a bold wallpaper choice or an amenity like a locally carved walking stick to take on a nearby trail. It’s that extra zing that makes Kimpton, Kimpton.”
Travel is always a little more fun when there’s an element of surprise. And, Kimpton’s guests agree. According to Bradley, the “closet smile” is often mentioned in social media posts and hotel reviews.
“Guests love taking pictures of the design elements and guessing what the item is referencing. For more practical items like the yoga mats and robes, they thank us for providing thoughtful amenities they can put to good use,” she said.
In Toronto, the Kimpton Saint George’s armoires feature a figurative wink to the city from hometown art duo GreatBeard—a quirky sculpture of a white squirrel, referencing Trinity Bellwoods Park’s famed albino squirrels. “The white squirrel is the unofficial mascot for Trinity Bellwoods and doubles as a fun inside joke for Toronto residents,” she said.
The story behind California’s Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Hotel is one of Bradley’s favorites: “While we were settling into the city of Palm Springs, we found out that there’s still a law that states camels cannot be walked down Palm Canyon Dr. between the hours of 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Hence, the closets here all have a single green camel figurine perched on the top shelf as a wink and a nod to that obscure trivia,” she said.
In partnership with Jonathan Lamb & Michael Ortiz from Like Minded Productions, the closets at the Kimpton Hotel Born house pieces that are all miniature works of art related to Colorado.
“These are an extension of the extensive art program throughout the entire hotel, which features 700 original pieces in public spaces as well as guestrooms, all created by local Denver artists,” she said. “There are three main pieces: one with stencils, sharp angular mountain landscapes, and a stained glass/abstract look (primarily mountains, sunsets, nature). They are all hand-painted. The hotel also has a partnership with the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art.”
In Manchester, VT, the Kimpton Taconic Hotel pays homage to the nearby Green and Taconic mountain ranges through locally made wooden walking sticks. “Hiking trails are abundant, including Lye Brook Falls, The Equinox Preserve, Prospect Rock, Bromley Mountain Trail and the famous Long Trail,” she said. “With these walking sticks, we’re encouraging guests to explore the stunning surroundings and get outside. These are also available to take home for just $35.”
Infusing each hotel with aspects of the city where they reside is a source of enjoyment for Bradley. “There’s no Kimpton in a box,” she said. “By providing guests with a small surprise in their closets, we not only give them something to look forward to while staying at different Kimptons, we’re sharing a story. But mostly, we just get the greatest joy from seeing our guests smile.”