The Rapidian

CityFlats Hotel: The First Guest Tells All

CityFlats, Grand Rapids' newest hotel welcomes its first guest
Underwriting support from:
Jane Bock, graphic designer, hotel guest

Jane Bock, graphic designer, hotel guest

Under bed lighting in the new CityFlats Hotel

Under bed lighting in the new CityFlats Hotel

Sink and mirror in the CityFlats Hotel

Sink and mirror in the CityFlats Hotel

When Jane Bock wheeled her suitcase into Grand Rapids' CityFlats Hotel, she heard an audible whisper between the staff members: "Do you think that's our first guest?"

She knew when she made her reservation a month or so ago that she would be among the first people stay in the new 28-room boutique hotel, but when she checked in on the evening of Tuesday, July 12, she was surprised to be the very first and (for that night) only guest.

"When I made the reservation, I was assured that the hotel would be ready. But up until a few days before I flew in, I was checking with the staff -pretty much every day- to make sure," said Bock, a graphic designer and owner of 12below design co. "They told me that the second floor would be nearly complete and my room would be ready," she said.  

"I really wanted to stay at CityFlats," she said. "The style of the hotel is very much my own personal style." Even the bathroom and lighting fixtures are like what she has in her own home.  

With a full bar, restaurant and lobby lounge with windows that open to the street, the former Fox jewelry store hardly looks like it was once a retail space selling diamonds to generations of Grand Rapidians. All that remains is the old neon FOX in art deco letters, now adorning the bar.

As the first guest, she was escorted to her room by Chuck Reid, co-owner of the hotel. That's pretty much where the special treatment ended. They did take a photo of her, which they posted on Twitter without comment or rationale. "Pretty low key, kind of like the hotel," said Jane with a laugh. She wasn't expecting anything really. "Well, maybe a free drink."

She found being the only guest in the hotel comforting. "No strangers next door," she said. "I was the first to sleep in the bed, first to stand in the shower, first to sit on the toilet. That's pretty cool."

The room was mostly finished: the platform bed was lacking a headboard, the desk still needed a light and the artwork had yet to be installed. When a staff member asked her if she wanted to charge her drinks to the room, she had to renege on the offer: the system wasn't set up yet. Her wake up call? A personal good morning from a desk clerk. "It is really quiet and comfortable," she said.

Seeking LEED certification like its sister hotel in Holland, the lack of a "new" smell was noted by Bock. "Even though everything is new, it doesn't smell chemical-y," she said. "Though the place is green, they don't post it all over and scream about being green," she said.

"Everyone here is super nice, very gracious and helpful," she said. "We've been talking a lot about recent haboob in Phoenix."

Bock had found the hotel while looking at the Experience Grand Rapids website. "I was looking at Brian Kelly's photographs and from there started looking at the hotel list. I was surprised to see CityFlats," she said. A former Douglas resident, she was familiar with the Holland property and liked the idea that the hotel was a small, independent and locally owned hotel. "As an woman-owned independent business owner, these things matter to me. I look for them when I travel," she said.

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