The Siren Hotel, Detroit
January 1st, 2020
Photos and Words by Taylor Simpson
Renaissance: A revival of or renewed interest in something.
Having grown up in the western suburbs of Detroit, it was understood you did not venture downtown unless for a specified sporting event with a pre-designated parking pass. You drove to your destination, enjoyed a hockey game, and headed straight back home praying Google maps didn't take you down a wrong turn. Talk of the city started and stopped with church 'missions' projects and the Flint water crisis. Every conversation centered around negativity and despair with rarely a glimmer of hope mentioned.
Fast forward to 2020, and the city of Detroit is experiencing a sort of modern renaissance. Once abandoned buildings are being scooped up by savvy investors, with new life breathed into them. Corporations are dedicating time and resources to the once derelict city with confidence in a return on investment. Conversations surrounding the motor city now begin and end on a positive, optimistic note. I find myself wanting to explore a city that somehow always felt off-limits growing up. I see boutique hotels, and foodie restaurants popping up, and young adults like myself choosing to move to Detroit from other major cities for job opportunities and a more affordable lifestyle. What was I missing out on? And had this happened overnight like I felt like it had, or has Detroit been slowly battling their circumstances all along to rise from the ashes like a phoenix?
Enter the Siren Hotel, located on Broadway Street, in downtown Detroit. One hundred and six guest rooms are now housed in the Wurlitzer Building which was left abandoned for years and was known to shed loose bricks from its deteriorating frame. Brought to life in 2017, the hotel brings feelings of European glamour back to the city, catering to the ever-growing creative crowd. I am enchanted by the moody lighting and the warm, eccentric interiors. Fresh flowers under a beautiful chandelier in the foyer, The New York Times in physical form waiting to be read with your latte and croissant from the inhouse coffee shop, a massive bookshelf for your perusing pleasure. All of these elements falling under the hotel's mantra, "linger a little longer." The exact opposite of how locals and travelers have felt about the city for so many years.
I meander the adjacent streets enjoying the shops, cafes, and Christmas lights, suddenly hoping to make a wrong turn and end up at one of the under-the-radar speakeasies I'd heard about. The next morning I head to the Eastern Market and enjoy homemade baguettes and jams, local crafts and art. I wonder if one day soon there will be high-speed electric trains bringing suburbanites downtown and college kids heading to the city for a night on the town. The city emerging as a destination and not a stop along the way.
Detroit's rebirth feels long overdue and this renaissance of sorts hard-earned. The resilience of Detroit speaks to the American spirit, and I find upon reflecting on my trip that I hope to have a similar renaissance of my own. A renewed interest in the things I love and places I go. A revival in optimism and creativity. A dedication to build and improve upon my roots in search of ingenuity and greatness.