Charlotte’s newest luxury hotel opened with a bang last week — and not just for travelers.
The property’s 19th-floor rooftop bar and lobby restaurant were a huge draw for locals over the weekend with a steady line to access the elevator and up to a 2-hour wait for a table at the restaurant.
I stayed overnight on Friday (with my 80-pound pup in tow) to see what all the buzz was about.
There are only 66 Kimpton hotels in 35 cities around the world, and unlike large hotel chains, no two Kimptons are alike.
Charlotte’s Tryon Park Hotel is stark and airy with soaring lobby windows, minimalist artwork and an eye-catching crystal statement piece pouring down from the ceiling like a waterfall.
I’ve stayed in one other Kimpton, the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, which had a much different earthy industrial feel to it with wood paneling, brick columns, leather seating and kitschy chandeliers made of brass instruments.
The idea is that each hotel is designed to reflect its city. Van Zandt looks like Austin and Tryon Park most definitely looks like Charlotte. (What I’m saying is it looks like an extremely fancy bank lobby.)
Most, if not all, Kimpton properties have complimentary bikes in the lobby for guests to use to get around town, and Tryon Park is no exception.
Assuming no one else has taken them out for a spin, you’ll find two red bikes near the staircase in the lobby and they’re yours for the taking.
The saddest missed feature at the Tryon Park Hotel is no pool on the property. I suppose that’s the trade off for Merchant & Trade, the stunning 19th-floor rooftop bar, which is a bigger win for locals in the end anyway, as pools are usually for guest use only.
There is, however, a lovely 4th-floor terrace and yoga deck adjacent to the fitness center. (It’s cool but I still feel like they could put a pool up there. Help a pool-hungry city out, Kimpton.)
Tryon Park’s rooms range from 350-770 square feet with current prices anywhere from $144-$360 per night. (Hotel pricing is dynamic. This range reflects prices as of 11/5/17 for Friday night stays through December 2017.)
We stayed in a huge one-bedroom suite with a beautiful view of Romare Bearden Park. One thing to keep in mind if you opt for a park view room, however, is that you’re also opting for a view of Ink N Ivy, which stays rowdy until 2 a.m.
General city noise doesn’t bother me at all so I slept just fine but I’d be lying if I said Ink N Ivy’s Friday night rager wasn’t noticeable.
My favorite thing about Kimpton is that they have hands down the most inclusive pet policy I’ve ever seen anywhere and it has made me a loyal customer for life.
From their website: “At every Kimpton boutique hotel, we invite you to bring your furry, feathery or scaly family member — no matter their size, weight, or breed, all at no extra charge. If your pet fits through the door, we’ll welcome them in.”
Sounds too good to be true so I brought my 80-pound pit bull, Charlie, along to test it out.
Sure enough, they greeted him by name and even had welcome treats waiting for him in the room.
If you’re not an animal person, we would definitely not get along but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay at this hotel. They have pet-free rooms, too. Just let them know upon booking.
If you ARE an animal person, look how cute this photo is of my former street dog on his chaise lounge just taking in the big city sights on a Friday night. Started from the bottom now he’s here.
Angeline’s is a gorgeous Italian-inspired modern American restaurant adjacent to the hotel lobby.
The menus aren’t available online just yet so here’s a look at the full menu and the cocktail list:
We started with a Negroni ($11), which is something of a house specialty, and A Long Place in the Sun ($14), a bright, not-too-sweet cocktail made with Cynar (an Italian artichoke-based liqueur), Madeira, lemon and rosemary.
To start, my husband got the fritto misto and I went with a margherita pizza because that’s a perfectly appropriate appetizer.
He called his the best fried calamari he’s ever had and if it was anything like the fried okra and fried lemon I poached from the plate, I believe him.
The pizza was excellent — a crispy but chewy crust with just the right amount of char.
For dinner, my husband went with the 21-day dry-aged ribeye ($39) and I got the eggplant parmesan ($22), a dish I usually avoid for its predictable mediocrity but that I felt like would be something special here.
Boy, was I ever right. It was served almost lasagna style with paper-thin layers of fried eggplant, fresh mozzarella and an unexpected sprinkling of crispy kale.
We wrapped up the meal with tiramisu and a shot of espresso. Absolutely perfect.
The Rooftop Bar
Of course, the biggest draw to the Tryon Park Hotel for locals is Merchant & Trade, the swanky rooftop bar with a line down the block to get in the elevator.
You can read all about my visit to the Merchant & Trade on opening day here.
Overall, the Kimpton is an excellent addition to Charlotte’s hospitality scene. The brand’s relative scarcity compared to other mega-hotel chains and the high caliber of its city selection lands Charlotte on a roster of cool, trendy, desirable locations.
And if the excellence I saw out of Angeline’s and Merchant & Trade on their opening nights is a sign, a time when service and execution are generally a little rocky, we are in for a real treat with these new hot spots.