Kevin Miyazaki

Minneapolis’s exuberant Chambers Hotel is taking Midwestern design to a whole new level. T+L pays a visit.

Jaime Gross
April 10, 2009

The Look

On the heels of Minneapolis’s remarkable architectural double-shot—Herzog & de Meuron’s Walker Art Center and Jean Nouvel’s Guthrie Theater—comes the David Rockwell-designed Chambers, which has enough art and theatricality to rival them both. Inside, a desiccated bull’s head by Damien Hirst juts out behind the front desk, while a ground-floor gallery showcases emerging and established artists. And in the lobby lounge, a gigantic waxy head by Evan Penny, complete with stubble, hovers over mojito-sipping guests.

The Scene

As much a local haunt as a business hub, the hotel’s airy lobby lures a crowd of twentysomethings in screen-printed T-shirts, glammed-up theatergoers, and after-work suits. Come night, they hit the clubby rooftop bar and courtyard fire pit next to Angus Fairhurst’s one-armed gorilla sculpture.

The Rooms

Minimalist but exceedingly comfortable, with black leather headboards, feather beds topped with buttery white sheets, and the requisite copy of Wallpaper.

The Amenities

In-room plasma televisions, which show a three-hour loop of video art, win points for edginess. But it’s the down-to-earth staff, with their refreshing lack of design-hotel attitude, that had us at hello.

Nice Surprise

The well-priced, Asian-influenced menu at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Chambers Kitchen; the tangy glazed short ribs ($18), braised for four hours, practically melted off the bone. Bonus: a glass-walled kitchen means you can watch the chefs in action.

901 Hennepin Ave.; 877/767-6990 or 612/767-6900; www.chambersminneapolis.com; doubles from $250.

Chambers Kitchen

Le Méridien Chambers Minneapolis

These minimalist digs put the spotlight where it belongs: on the 200-plus pieces of world-renowned contemporary art prominently displayed throughout the lobby of this 60-room boutique hotel. Take note of Evan Penny’s eerily lifelike sculpture of an elderly man’s face and torso, which is displayed across the lobby from bad boy Damien Hirst’s bull head preserved in formaldehyde, while flat-screen TV’s in the hallways and public bathrooms run video art 24 hours a day. Once you’re ensconced in the high-ceilinged white spaces, the masterpieces on the walls and the walk-in rain showers compete for your attention. Venture downstairs to the Chambers Kitchen by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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