Local hospitality entrepreneur Dustin Lancaster has a vision that is tailored to the present day but is shaped by an unconventional dose of design history. For evidence of that unusual mash-up, look no further than the five-room Hotel Covell, directly above Lancaster's Bar Covell on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Feliz, which opened Feb. 3.
Think of it as a descendant of the Chateau Marmont, born with an old soul.
Storytelling is built into this compact hotel project's conceptual DNA. Early on in the planning process, interior designer Sally Breer of the firm Co-Mingle and the Shopclass decor store in Highland Park, created a life story for the fictional character of George Covell, a bon vivant writer whose imagined biography is the basis of the decorating schemes in each room.
The tale begins in Oklahoma (Lancaster is from Deer Creek, and Covell is the name of a street in the town) and follows Covell's path to New York, Paris and beyond. Room 1 (Chapter 1) has a pared-down, Edward Hopper-esque bachelor apartment feel.
"Each chapter is a whole sensory environment," Breer said. "It's all designed to be cohesive, even if you don't know the story."
No two chapters, or hotel rooms, are alike. Chapter 2's room is set in New York City in the early 1950s and resembles a well-appointed yet small-scale residence with custom white oak built-ins and iconic midcentury pieces, such as a Saarinen chair and Eames table. In the Chapter 3 room, the lodging of Covell's girlfriend, a vintage Eileen Gray Bibendum chair, a Danish Modern rosewood credenza and polished onyx bullnose trim in the bathroom allude to a 1960s-70s romantic Parisian sojourn.
The onion-shaped niches and marbled wallpaper in one of Chapter 4's two bedrooms reflect other aspects of Covell's travels through Monaco and India. As the conclusion of the story, Breer envisioned Chapter 5 as the apartment Covell's Paris-raised daughter inhabits in New York during the late 1970s and early '80s.
Breer selected a mix of vintage and new items that merge past and contemporary sensibilities. While graphically bold Kismet tile patterns and Brendan Ravenhill lighting fixtures appeal to current tastes, Breer opted for other details that evoke an earlier time. Salvaged door hardware appears throughout, and wood door and window trim matches the existing materials on the 1922 structure at 4628 Hollywood Boulevard. On the other hand, all of the double-hung and hinged casement windows are new to maximize energy efficiency, bedding is from Parachute and other decor details include throw pillows from local jewelry designer Maya Brenner's new line of home goods.
Each room is accessible via an interior wainscot-lined, skylighted corridor and outdoor passageways that flank the building's exterior. Kitchenettes with retro Italian Smeg refrigerators and Heath ceramic dishware encourage guests to settle in. The lobby is at the rear of the building on the ground floor, and Lancaster and Breer plan to add a roof deck above it.
Rooms range from about 300 to 800 square feet; rates start at $245 per night for Chapter 2, the smallest room, and go up to $595 for Chapter 4, the two-bedroom suite Breer dubs the "supreme" room. Lancaster pursued the project based on clamoring he routinely heard for more hotel options in the area.
Lancaster, whose other venues include L&E Oyster Bar and El Condor in Silver Lake and the Hermosillo in Highland Park, embraces all aspects of this playful approach to time and space, starting with how Hotel Covell came about.
"Hotel owners usually want to put in a bar later, but I already had a successful bar. So I did this in reverse," he jokes.