In the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, and within walking distance or a short car ride to some of our amazing food highlights, is one of the city’s newest hotels. Opened a few weeks prior to our stay, Distrikt Hotel is a flair of New York City, yet with dedication to make Pittsburgh the hero.
Scott Schroeder started converting the former Salvation Army building in 2014 with this location marking the second hotel in the Distrikt Hotel chain after the success of his New York building. In its former life, the Salvation Army Building began providing charitable services and housing to the dislocated, poor and homeless of Pittsburgh as well as supplying long term housing to working women in 1924.
Through the doors that lie beneath the original stained glass windows lies a two storey, sprawling and fresh lobby that used to be the buildings chapel. Dark wooden floor boards and brown lounges pay homage to the vintage, 1920’s aura of the building but are contemporarily offset and lifted by blonde timber tables and the vibrant and inviting natural wall at the back of the lobby’s stage.
Despite being new to the check-in process, the front-desk staff made checking-in a breeze and would remain overly helpful and sincerely charming for the duration of our stay. The bikes positioned throughout the lobby are not just for decoration as I was told, you can forget Uber as they are free for guests to take out and explore Pittsburgh with.
An iron cast cut-out of an aerial layout of Pittsburgh that shows the Monongahela River meeting the Allegheny to form the Ohio River adorns a wall next to one of many rugs that copy a similar print.
The upstairs mezzanine level of the lobby overlooks the stage and green wall below and features more lounge seating as well as Evangeline Oyster and Cocktail Bar. Cocktails start around the US$25 mark with increasingly more expensive options alongside an oyster and seafood bar that runs from 4pm until late on Tuesdays to Saturdays.
The subtle homages to Pittsburgh from the artwork and décor in the lobby continue into the walls of the elevators as names of surrounding suburbs are cut into beams of iron – one of the city’s primary exports in decades prior.
Whilst having two bed room and suites available as well, the majority of the hotels’ 185 rooms are separated into “Cozy”, “Comfy” and “Roomy” status. Cozy features one Queen bed in a 210-foot room whilst Comfy and Roomy offer one King bed in 230 and 270 square foot rooms, respectively. We stayed in the “Comfy Room”.
Stylings are simple and neat. Dark carpet runs into a headboard that climbs the height of the wall to the ceiling. A mirror is leaned against one wall that reflects a desk and chair beneath a window on the opposite side of the room. Immediately we noticed some stains on the carpet that ran from the center of the room to the bathroom door. Among the dark wooden side tables, carpet and headboard, the white-puffed quilt of the King bed was enticing and the bed lived up to how comfortable it looked.
Each room comes with modern tech amenities of WiFi, Bluetooth charging stations, refrigerators, a 43” TV and Keurig Coffee Systems. On numerous occasions our TV has trouble finding a signal, but turning it on and off again would (usually) solve the problem straight away.
The color palette of the room continues into the bathroom. White subway tiles make up the shower whilst the floor is again a dark grey and the walls are beige. Stylings are again simple, but it successfully stays away from feeling cheap. If anything the feel of the room is a restrained and controlled experience. More bench space is desperately needed however as the only usable area is the few centimeters either side of the basin (the size of a width of a hand) since the shelf below is stocked with towels.
Skin and shower products come from environmentally conscious company Lather. Packaging will tell you that they are proud to be free of synthetic perfumes and artificial ingredients and offer natural and holistic approaches to cleanliness and skin care in packaging that uses recycled materials to keep their company carbon-neutral.
With curtains drawn, natural light was plentiful and whilst not being the most impressive view – we looked out into opposing brick buildings and a quiet street below, we were told by staff to check out the terrace for a glorious view.
30-degree heat and a fresh, clean breeze met us as we walked onto the terrace. Not being overwhelmed with towering skyscrapers was instantaneously appreciated as the clean breeze rolled over the South Shore hills and along the Monongahela River (that is visible from the terrace) was not obstructed by other buildings. With little street noise and fresh air, sitting down in the numerous lounges and seats offered a desirable moment of calm. A seasonal fire-pit on the terrace was a reminder of the notoriously cold and dumped in snow Pittsburgh winters; what a different sight that would make.
Travelling back down in the elevator took us to Distrikt Hotels’ in-house restaurant – the Moby Dick themed ‘Or, The Whale’. Not only is it convenient, but it was an impressive and modern take on famous Americana dining.
The Savory Bubble Waffles (US$16) stayed true to the desirable expectation that the portion size would be truly American. The corn meal waffles were a fluffy cake-like sponge that pooled the maple syrup and hollandaise sauce. With the bacon and potatoes, the meal quickly became a heavy marathon that we weren’t able to finish, but still remember fondly. Or, The Whale’s menu continues with a range of seaside and American favorites of caviar to Cod Chowder (US$15) to Duck Burgers (US$45) and an extensive steak menu ranging from US$45 – US$135.
The writer stayed as a guest of Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh and Visit Pittsburgh.
You can Lachlan’s full feature on Pittsburgh by heading HERE.