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Boutique hotel to offer quirky, lux experience in Downtown Pittsburgh

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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Rush hour traffic moves past the site of the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, a Kimpton Hotel, along 6th Ave. in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Under renovation now, the hotel is slated to officially open in January.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A yellow birdcage chandelier hangs next to a plush green headboard in one of the suites at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014. A nod to the Steel City, the basic color palette of the hotel is white, gold, and black, with pops of different shads of green, says publicist Jennifer Resick.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Kimpton brand's signature eclectic art and decor displayed in one of the suites at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Kimpton brand's signature eclectic art and decor displayed in one of the suites at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
The bathroom in one of the suites at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Kimpton brand's signature robes and yoga mat hang in one of the guest room closets at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, a Kimpton Hotel, along Sixth Avenue is slated to open in January.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Kimpton brand's signature eclectic art and decor displayed in one of the suites at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A pillow with a dog on it stands as a nod to the Kimpton brand hotels' pet-friendly policy, as seen in one of the rooms at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014. A nod to the Steel City, the basic color palette of the hotel is white, gold, and black, with pops of different shads of green, says publicist Jennifer Resick.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
A nod to the Steel City, the basic color palette of the hotel is white, gold, and black, with pops of different shads of green, says publicist Jennifer Resick. Flowers and toiletries on display in one of the guest rooms at the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh in Downtown on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

A new Downtown hotel will offer guests the comforts of home with touches of added luxury and playful whimsy.

Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, a Kimpton property, will open Jan. 20 at 620 William Penn Place. The 248-room hotel features an array of amenities plus a quirky decor meant to inspire smiles or, at the very least, second glances.

“With boutique hotels, you expect high design and luxury, a high level of service,” says Kristin Huxta, Kimpton area public-relations manager. “With Kimpton, it’s all that, but it’s also a little bit of fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we don’t expect anyone else to. We want people to come and have a good time and really feel like they’re coming home.”

The hotel joins several others that are either under construction or have already opened this year in the city. The greater downtown area currently has 15 hotels totaling 4,570 rooms. That’s expected to grow by more than 1,500 rooms with the completion of at least nine projects in the next few years.

“I think the timing is perfect,” says Hotel Monaco general manager Rob Mallinger, who joined the company in March after leaving his position as controller at the Fairmont.

“With the rebirth of downtown Pittsburgh, you’ve got new buildings going up left and right. You’ve got the new dining scene. This is not the Pittsburgh of 20 years ago. We saw that five years ago when (the) Fairmont opened. The city is ready for this.”

Hotel Monaco is under construction, but a recent sneak peek let visitors see plans unfolding. In the main entrance, work is under way on the black-and-white tile floor and grand marble staircase. The finished space will have a “library look to it,” Huxta says, a nod to the building’s former occupant, law firm Reed Smith.

“We prefer not to refer to it as a lobby or an entrance,” Huxta says. “It’s more about coming home.”

A fireplace will serve as the focal point of a spacious sitting area, where guests can enjoy their morning coffee or attend a daily wine hour in the evening. Two ballrooms feature street-facing, wall-spanning windows, towering columns and the original ceiling work.

“We try to keep as much of the character as possible,” Huxta says.

Hotel Monaco’s decor doesn’t shy away from bold patterns, bright colors and items that, on first glance, might seem somewhat out of place. One doesn’t see electric teal and deep emerald paired together often, yet here, the respective hues of the guest-floor doors and walls simply work. A similar surprise is how the hallway’s black-and-gray-patterned carpet complements wallpaper featuring oversized flowers.

The Rebellion Suite, one of the hotel’s 13 luxury accommodations, gained its name from a social-media contest hotel staff orchestrated in which the public was invited to submit their best offerings. Rebellion won out for its reference to the Whiskey Rebellion.

Other details honoring the region’s history include artwork featuring a light bulb as a nod to Duquesne Light and framed postcards sent to Pittsburghers in the early 1900s. As no space dedicated to the ‘Burgh would be complete without sports references, black and gold accents are used throughout, from the canary wallpaper in the bathroom to the black-and-white bedding and yellow accent pillows. A ceramic bedside lamp forms the shape of a penguin.

Some touches are just for fun, such as the elegant chandelier dangling inside a gold bird cage and the kelly-green headboards offering shocks of color. Multicolored birds and deer frolic together on a lampshade. It’s easy to see why many guests make the comparison to “Alice in Wonderland.”

“Around every corner here, you will see something of interest,” Mallinger says. “None of it is meant to make you laugh hysterically, but it’s all made to make you look twice, smile and move on.”

The hotel is pet-friendly, a perk celebrated through subtle touches such as embroidered pillows featuring the likeness of a Great Dane — the official breed of Pennsylvania, for trivia fans.

The Commoner, the hotel’s 120-seat modern American tavern, sits a flight of steps down from the entrance. Steel columns, green and white subway tiles, amber lighting and an exposed kitchen will create a relaxed ambiance highlighting the region’s industrial past.

The space will house Commoner Corner, a grab-and-go cafe and smoked-meat carvery with five seats serving breakfast and lunch on Strawberry Way. Executive chef Dennis Marron, who most recently served as executive chef at Poste Modern Brasserie in Washington, D.C., helms the kitchen for both spots.

Menu offerings will include flatbreads; fresh roasted fish and seasonal vegetables; salads; and appetizers such as beef tartare and mussels. The beer-focused bar will include 20 draft lines offering a variety of local brews. The bar will serve several wines and cocktails, too.

“Pittsburgh is an emerging city with food and beverage trends,” says The Commoner general manager Matthew Rafferty.

With Pittsburgh also growing as a hotspot for the film industry, Kimpton staff expects Hotel Monaco to attract the A-listers who call the city home while shooting.

“We’ve already started a relationship with the Pittsburgh Film Office,” Huxta says. “We look forward to continuing that relationship, for sure.”

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or [email protected].

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