This art-filled hotel is like walking into a cool museum with room service

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As Pablo Picasso said, “Art cleanses the soul of the dust of everyday life.” Research shows that art is a balm and has great healing power. In fact, studies by the World Health Organization have found that art can help improve both physical and mental health.

Now, more than ever, hotels have added art to their public spaces and rooms. But there are hotels full of art and then there is the Daxton Hotel. This new independently owned boutique hotel in the heart of Birmingham, Michigan’s cultural hub, features more than 400 pieces of cutting-edge art from around the world.

The 151 rooms and suites contain a unique custom-made piece. Carefully curated by Saatchi Art, pieces by artists including Karin Vermeer and Louise “Ouizi” Jones represent multiple mediums including sculpture, collage, photography, drawing and painting. Much of the art was specially commissioned for the hotel and features street and pop art.

The centerpiece of the hotel lobby is a gold-plated mechanical horse sculpture. Created by Adrian Landon, this metal equine dramatically gallops in slow motion when a button is pressed. There’s a huge nine-foot-tall sparkly fuchsia bunny that’s apparently in court by the bank of elevators. The Geode Bar and Lounge is wrapped in an otherworldly geode-shaped metal beam structure above the bar. Even the hotel restaurant’s lamp, Madam, is designed to resemble an elegant pearl necklace hanging from the ceiling.

But the art is not only on the walls. The hotel staff is just as impressive. What by daxton The hotel’s manager, Autumn Griffith, supervises more than 150 people. According to studies, women hold only 12 percent of hotel leadership positions, making Griffith a rarity in the industry.

As hotel manager, Griffith oversees the hotel’s operations team. “But what I really do is make sure that this group of hard-working people have what they need to do their jobs and are able to execute at a very high level,” shares Griffith. “I try to instill in my managers the knowledge that they are the people who really shape and influence the business. The seemingly small decisions they make throughout the day cumulatively impact our guest experiences.”

As Griffith explains, every interaction with every guest is important. And hotel associates gain insight from these interactions. “They hear directly from our guests about their wants, needs, and impressions,” shares Griffith. “My job is to unlock and leverage the expertise that our associates have.”

To that extent, they do what they can to make guests feel special. That means remembering them when they return for their next stay, welcoming your children with a backpack full of activities, and making sure details learned through interactions are used to personalize a stay. There are also great touches like pantries on each floor that are stocked with pastries, yummy desserts, soft drinks, and games. Massive bathtubs contain salts, lavender oil and a scrub brush for a luxurious bath.

Griffith also sees his role as a conduit for the owner’s vision and as helping to execute that dream. “I participate in shaping the direction we take on a large scale based on our owner’s vision and then work with our operators and managers to make this vision a reality,” says Griffith. “Whether it’s sourcing touring bikes and designing complimentary picnic packages with the executive chef for our concierge team to offer to our guests, designing a custom deck of cards, we have our housekeepers keep a drawer for a guest discover them, or collaborating with our engineers to build custom planters for our terrace suites to add more privacy and detail to outdoor spaces.”

As a child growing up in Cambridge, Ohio, Griffith remembers loving the movie. Hello Dolly, specifically the scene where they all end up at the fancy Harmonia Gardens restaurant. “It was so grand and romantic. The men in tuxedos. The women in robes. Private dining nooks. The chefs and maitre’d milled around to prepare for Dolly’s arrival dinner and dance the night away,” shares Griffith. “The ceremony and the grandeur of it all. She wanted to believe that something like this existed somewhere and be a part of it.”

After graduating from Ohio University with a degree in Geology and working with Michelin star chef Rick Bayless, Griffith really understood what a career in hospitality could be.

“Traveling to Mexico with him on three trips I learned about food, wine and service on a global scale. Then I had the opportunity to work in a hotel as a bar manager,” says Griffith. “That was it. I loved the dynamic of a hotel: all the departments and outlets under one roof. A dinner for 50 on one floor, a wedding for 200 on another, people having drinks at the bar and guests getting ready at their rooms to party. And there were all the people rushing to the back of the house to make it all happen.” She felt the same attraction and sense of romance that she got from Hello Dolly as a child.

Griffith eventually got a job at Soho House in Chicago. After two years, she was promoted to general manager of Soho House in West Hollywood, one of her most iconic locations. “We had such a talented group of creative and connected people that we were able to let our imaginations run wild by designing events, big and small, and then bringing them to life,” says Ella Griffith. She remembers hosting the Academy Awards presentation and after party for the cast and crew of Parasite and her production company, Neon Productions, with a full-fledged K Pop band playing.

“When they announced that Parasite had won Best Picture, the whole place erupted in screams and tears of joy,” recalls Griffith. “After the ceremony when director Bong Joon-Ho entered, he was doused with champagne and lifted onto the shoulders of his team.”

At Soho House, she learned the power of developing a sense of community and connection along with the importance of creating value for guests. “We spared no expense in selecting events to make members feel a part of something,” says Griffith. “Even though Daxton is clearly not a members club and we don’t have an event model, it’s still important that we add those layers to the experience, so our guests feel connected to Daxton.”

Hotel Daxton’s executive chef, Rece Hogerheide, and his team at Madam Restaurant also elevate the hotel experience to an art. Dedicated to using suppliers and products from its abundant region and purchasing most of its produce from local farms, Hogerheide has put in place a sustainability program. “Our compost goes to different farms. The compost we create at the hotel is used to grow the produce we buy back,” shares Hogerheide. “Our food waste is no more than two hours from the hotel.”

Purchasing several different varieties of tomatoes, Hogerheide loves pickling and makes her signature muffaletta sandwich with house-made cold cuts that guests can pack into elaborate picnic baskets made for guests who want to ride Daxton’s bikes out for a picnic at one of Birmingham’s many parks. A local farm grows and mills the wheat for their beloved sourdough bread. And each day, they hand-craft more than 700 mushroom meatballs filled with vegan mushrooms grown specifically for the hotel. Hogerheide says, “My joy in making food is the joy it brings to other people.”

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