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74 State Hotel

CONCEPT: When the new owners decided to convert a historic, 1915-era, former office building in downtown Albany, NY, into a hotel, the design concept was crystal clear. “We set out to create a turn-of-the-[20th] Century town home similar to what you might have found if you lived in Albany at that time,” explained the hotel’s general manager, Gary Smith, who was part of that ownership group, which is known as 74 State, LLC.
This entailed creating a very traditional environment, complete with comfortable, overstuffed leather furniture, rich fabrics and finishes and working fireplaces in select guestrooms as well as in public spaces. In addition, the owners set themselves another design goal: wherever possible they would source items for the hotel from New York State manufacturers, a nod to Albany’s status as the state capital.

EXECUTION: Taking its lead from one of their spouses who had an interior design background, the ownership group served as project designer, working with architect Scott Townsend. The 74-room hotel (hence the name) opened late last year and features six working fireplaces and a variety of guestroom designs.
“Each [guestroom] is different, if only in small ways,” Smith noted, citing the granite used in the hotel’s bathrooms as an example. “We visited a granite graveyard, choosing remnants from other jobs, but were able to come away with a really eclectic mix of colors and finishes that makes each bathroom distinctive.” The search for items produced in New York State proved equally successful. 74 State ended up working with some vendors whose roots go back to the Civil War.

RESULT: The guest feedback has been highly positive, particularly from business travelers who are so used to staying in cookie-cutter hotels that when they have the option of staying in a one-of-a-kind, historic setting, they see it as a real benefit, according to the hotel’s director of sales, Jeff Krempa. “The design is also consistent with our city center location right in the historic part of town,” Krempa noted.