Forget white-gloved bellhops or the overly enthusiastic, suck-up lobby attendants of Amy Schumer skits, the first to greet you upon arrival at FOUND:RE Phoenix is a lot more casual than those at some stuffy Scottsdale resorts or old-school Downtown high rises: a naked Burt Reynolds in a golden wig on a bearskin rug.
Placed directly behind the front desk, the giant gilded canvas – titled “That was then,This is now...Burtney” by Phoenix artist Randy Slack – sets the tone for the entire Downtown hotel, which officially opened to the public last night. Housed in the former drab Lexington Hotel on Central Ave., which permanently closed its doors in 2012, FOUND:RE is billed as a boutique arts hotel with a strong commitment to featuring local art of all varieties – from the voyeuristic photographs dotting the wall leading to the ground floor bathroom (there are also two-way mirrors so you can spy on primping guests while using the toilet) to the cuisine at in-house restaurant MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails, helmed by Executive Chef Akos Szabo, formerly of Top of the Rock restaurant at The Buttes in Tempe.
“We're very proud of the fact that we're in the center of the arts and culture focal point of the city of Phoenix," said developer Tim Sprague of Habitat Metro. "Our goal is that we remain unusual, we stay different, we make sure we add a little spice to the city.” And different they are. It's not often you find a hotel that could double as an art gallery, especially one full of actually interesting, carefully curated pieces of the non-mass-produced, cheesy IKEA variety. This commitment to local art also trickles down from the many canvases and sculptures available for public viewing and purchase on the ground floor into small details in each of the hotel's 104 guest rooms. To wit: the number markers outside each room double as collage think pieces by Valley artist Cheryl Marine.
Even the in-room furniture was customized, much of it made by Resolute Performance Contracting, a Tempe contractor more focused on structural steel and solar installations than furniture design. But that greenness doesn't show in the cement floored rooms. Everything is deeply cool, from the industrial steel bed frames and sliding barn doors to the Edison bulb wagon wheel chandeliers. It's like something out of a hipster's fever dream.
As for me, I was partial to the bathrooms. (Ya, ya but when a girl's gotta go, she might as well go in luxury right?) The double showers in the eighth floor suites are massive, while the singles in the standard rooms carry on the cool penny tile motif; plus they feature a two way sink that continues from the outside of the bathroom into the shower/toilet area and a long bench. I love a good shower seat.
The views aren't bad either. South-facing rooms feature balconies with fantastic views of Downtown, while North-facing rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Irish Cultural Center next door. Go for the South if given the option – the view really highlights the hotel's goal of being a cornerstone of Downtown Phoenix's flourishing arts scene. Mayor Greg Stanton, on hand for the opening, called it “a gathering place where people from all over the Valley can see Downtown in a new and different way, through art and through great cuisine that's gonna be here.”
That sentiment is echoed by all when explaining the admittedly odd name. Pronounced "found, ree," the RE refers to the acronym commonly found in email subject lines denoting the message within is "in reference to" or "in regards to." Front Desk Manager Rachel Crissinger put it this way: "We want you to find yourself in reference to something in the community. Good food, local art." Or whatever. It's clear the people at FOUND don't want to take them or yourself too seriously. Remember, after all, a naked Burtney is the first thing you see.
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