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Quirk Hotel

In Richmond's Hippest New Hotel, a Vintage Vibe
There is something truly distinctive yet quirky about staying in a former fine department store. Situated in a plum spot on West Broad Street, a convenient 30-minute ride from the Richmond airport, is the Quirk hotel, which is part of the Destinations Hotel Group.

This is the labor of love of owners Katie and Ted Ukrop, who spent more than 10 years transforming a 100-year-old department store into a 75-room hotel with a rip-roaring rooftop bar scene, arguably the finest in the city. You’ll sleep on cushy beds made with joists salvaged from the former store, and bathe in the Barbie-like aura of the “love and happiness” rooms (incidentally, Sherwin Williams has a paint swatch by that same name). Rooms have lovely details like scallop-patterned nightstands, Tivoli radios, generously sized bay windows, and well-worn floors that look vintage.

You can slake your caffeine addiction at the chic coffee bar in the lobby, or do a bit of retail therapy in the “Gallery” boutique off the lobby. It sells branded pink-and-white plaid pajamas and items like custom Na Nin hand-poured double-wick candles, crafted by Richmond resident Kate Jennings. The coffee for sale comes in brightly patterned signature rose tins that won a packaging award. “There’s no decade or theme to this gallery,” one employee assured me, but the vibe is decidedly mod-chic and whimsical, befitting the hotel's name.

The communal-style restaurant, Maple & Pine, is situated right in the middle of the lobby and is truly convivial. The culinary program is headed by chef David Dunlap, who was formerly with the Ashby Inn.

Room rates from $225.
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Hotel Wall Art Made Entirely from Coffee Cup Lids
From a distance, the white on white artwork called "Pile" that hangs on the right wall as soon as you enter the Quirk hotel in Richmond seems like a panel of over-sized feathers, a swirl of heavily texturized foam, or even giant seeds whirling around in concentric circles.

The maelstrom nature of the piece by Richmond-resident Susie Ganch is intentional. She explains to me that the work is “part of a series of tapestries depicting different oceanic current systems made from used coffee lids and trash bags.” The one at Quirk specifically depict the currents of the Triangle Trade Routes in the Atlantic that helped Richmond become the powerful city it has been and is today.

“The piece is meant to be beautiful on the one hand, but ugly as well, just like our history,” she explains.

To use coffee lids (collected patiently from local coffee shops around town) adds a different layer to the metaphor of the work, and a dimension of community participation. Ganch tells me that the piece itself took months to make but the collection of the lids took much longer.

The piece fits like a glove in the art-driven hotel, which also has unique papier-maché art on each floor. You almost want to reach into the artwork, grab a coffee lid, and put it on the hotel-brewed cup your barista will make you right in the lobby.

Now, I can drink to that!
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