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2016 Gold Key Awards: Best Hotel Midscale

(December 2016) posted on Mon Jan 30, 2017

Creating fresh takes on local history earned three hotels honors in the 36th annual competition.

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WINNER: Hotel Indigo El Paso Downtown, Texas

Sky Patio
Hotel Indigo El Paso Downtown. Photo: Brian Wancho Photography

DESIGNERS: Curioso, Chicago; CAds (Charles Austin design studio), El Paso, Texas 

INSPIRATION: El Paso’s tale of two countries and reputation as the “last real place in America” served as a springboard for the design team’s vision. The area’s nearly 1 million residents, as well as the huge number of colorful goods and interesting characters that constantly pass through the West Texas metro, forged the narrative. A major downtown revitalization meant the design stakes for what would be the city’s only boutique hotel were high. “Savvy and well-traveled guests expect to experience the unexpected,” says Curioso partner Nina Grondin. “They want to explore, to contemplate, to be surprised and delighted. They want to leave knowing more than when they first arrived.” So clever discovery points and an unwavering sense of authenticity throughout the hotel were required.

Hotel Indigo El Paso Downtown. Photo: Brian Wancho Photography

IDEATION: Staying true to local roots meant anything but hiding the property’s past life as the Downtowner Motor Inn. “The hotel’s design and experience fully respects the clean lines of the original building’s 1960s architecture,” explains Curioso partner Daniel Pierce. Of course, mid-century modern furnishings were a natural fit. The duo paired industrial materials that play right into the hotel’s urban vibe—such as exposed concrete and metal storage—with organic textures of warm wood and rich leather that help bring the desert environment indoors. Ultra-vibrant punches of blue, pink and yellow nod to nearby Mexico. “Telling this complex and intricately woven story through design required bold gestures, the layering of materials and active participation from the local artist community,” notes Grondin. Street-style murals in the guest rooms reflect the urban landscape, while framed photos and illustrations resting on the accommodations’ headboards add residential flair.

Sky Lobby 
Hotel Indigo El Paso Downtown. Photo: Brian Wancho Photography


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