A Hotel To Inspire Your Soul

After coming off a crazy year of travel (thirty-four countries in one year) I took some much needed vacation from vacation this January and stayed in Ohio for a few weeks after Christmas so I could rest, relax, and spend some time with my parents (before starting all over again.)

But two solid weeks cozied by the fire watching The Hallmark Channel in my pjs, and the explorer in me got antsy, so I headed Columbus to check out some museums, restaurants, and celebrate my childhood friend’s big 3-0! 

Columbus is full of things to do and see. It always takes me by surprise how metropolitan it is and how many cool, delicious, and quirky things I find when I start exploring. I spent my first afternoon walking around the Short North Arts District in search of good coffee and wall murals, and I noticed a particularly colorful piece of street art living indoors. I wandered into what I thought was a modern art gallery, but turned out to be the lobby of The Joseph, a Le Méridien hotel downtown. 

 KAWS   NYT, 2013 Acrylic on canvas

KAWS 

NYT, 2013
Acrylic on canvas

No Le Méridien is the same, and this one is owned by an avid art collector and his wife. Their impressive private collection is on loan throughout the lobby and bar, making for quite special hotel decor. Nothing about this hotel seemed corporate. All the furniture is different but coordinates, the tiles floors are Instagram-worthy and the separation of the lobby into little areas makes you feel like you are in your own incredibly stylish SoHo loft.

 The second level is an open gallery with works on display for guest (and public) enjoyment.

The second level is an open gallery with works on display for guest (and public) enjoyment.

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 Doris Day, I love you.

Doris Day, I love you.

 Is it me or is that little guy dabbing?

Is it me or is that little guy dabbing?

I consider the birthday of anyone I know a holiday, and celebrate it as such. So when it's a milestone birthday of a friend I've had since I was a tween, well - I wanted to buy every balloon in Columbus and hire an a cappella group to show up at his office and sing birthday songs all day! But I decided a better plan of action was to bring my friend to, Soul, the bar inside the hotel for a celebratory birthday drink before our dinner plans. Downtown bars can often be too crowded, loud, and impersonal, but Soul was the perfect place for conversation, celebration, and craft cocktails.

 Nari Ward   West Liquorsoul, 2009

Nari Ward 

West Liquorsoul, 2009

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 Where else can you have happy hour next to a Nari Ward?

Where else can you have happy hour next to a Nari Ward?

From the minute we arrived, I felt right at home here. There was even a little reserved sign nearest to end of the bar so we'd have the best view. We instantly liked Curtis, the type of bartender every establishment should have - friendly, relaxed, and a wizard with the cocktail shaker. The manager decided to give us the royal treatment: a four-course cocktail tasting of Soul's best creations. He also provided some of snacks along the way so he wouldn’t have to carry me home. When our French 75s arrived accompanied by a cheese plate, charcuterie platter, blistered shishito peppers and truffle flatbread, we promptly canceled our dinner reservation. 

 French 75

French 75

 Cranberry Rye Mule

Cranberry Rye Mule

 Blistered Shishito Peppers

Blistered Shishito Peppers

 Truffle Flatbread

Truffle Flatbread

 "London Calling"

"London Calling"

Mid-tasting, I knew I was in downtown Columbus, but for a moment I lost myself and thought I was back home in Manhattan. 
Soul was exactly the type of place I’d pick to meet a friend downtown; small, sophisticated, and stylish. 

Every bite and sip was so extraordinarily delicious, and the portions were definitely enough for a meal. They had by-chance covered some of my favorite food groups:

  1. champagne
  2. truffles
  3. bourbon 

Those are food groups, right? 

The cocktails were each so different, but the best was the "London Calling," a  mix of gin, balsamic, Saint Germain, and fresh strawberries. It was all the flavors I love without being too sweet.

When Curtis started bragging that he made the best old fashioned in Columbus, it was clear that was going to be the last drink of the night. I'm very picky when it comes to Old Fashioned's, and outside the great state of Tennessee it's hard to find one the way I like it: absolutely no muddling, one giant ice cube, orange peel, and Luxardo cherries. He nailed it...

 Old Fashioned 

Old Fashioned 

The finale of the night was a surprise of pavlova, one of my favorite desserts and something you never see on menus in America. The sheer luck of all my favorite things coming out of this kitchen - I was starting to believe that Soul and I were soulmates. Or maybe Curtis and I were soulmates...? 
To be honest, four cocktails in, I things were getting a little foggy. But I know the pavlova was killer, and I may have licked the plate. (No shame!)

You might think we wouldn't have had room for a dessert, but I always have room. And what's a birthday without something sweet?

 You can always win me over with a fantastic dessert! Pavlova is meringue stuffed with cream or custard, drizzled with fresh fruit. It's a crunchy, fruit sugar bomb and it makes me weak in the knees.

You can always win me over with a fantastic dessert! Pavlova is meringue stuffed with cream or custard, drizzled with fresh fruit. It's a crunchy, fruit sugar bomb and it makes me weak in the knees.

After such a great evening at Soul, I decided to stay the night at The Joseph. I imagined I was going to love the upstairs just as much as the downstairs, and it did not disappoint. 

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The next morning my room was flooded with sunlight from the warm winter day. A narrow entryway housed the best stocked mini bar I’d ever seen - St. Germain, Chambord, champagne...There was even a little Illy espresso machine that I made immediate use of. (Perhaps I was a tad hungover?)

Again The Joseph succeeded in making me feel like I was at home, rather than a hotel. From the moment I checked in with the smiling reception staff, I was reminded that Ohioans are the nicest people in the world. They made sure I had everything I could possibly want during my stay. They even have sneakers you can loan and running path maps. But it was Sunday Funday/cheat day and I had no plans of running anywhere but across the street to Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
On my bedside table were a few great guides to Columbus which I read through while taking in the view and sipping my americano. 

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I was tempted to spend the entire day cozied up in the bed, raiding the snacks and binging The Crown. But all the art in the hotel had inspired me. Surrounded by so much passion and creativity, I wanted to work on my own craft. 

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I spend most nights of my life in a hotel room. Some are extraordinary, some are terrible, but most are just generic; a series of walls, linens, and upholstery that attempt to make you feel at home but often leave you longing for the comforts of it. But in Columbus, The Joseph is something special. Maybe it's the extraordinary art on the walls, or the friendly staff, or maybe all my warm fuzzy feelings are due to the cocktails downstairs... But The Joseph does not just feel like another luxury downtown hotel; A stay here will definitely amuse your eyes, and might just inspire your soul.

 

 

I was graciously hosted by The Joseph but all opinions and words are my own.

Anna Kloots