Warning: The following post on the PANTONE HOTEL is eXtremely graphic in nature.
Graphic, as in graphic design, that is. The PANTONE HOTEL in Brussels (book through Unusual Hotels of the World) has carved out a very specific, unique target customer niche — graphic designers, marketing types (such as myself) and printers — by designing a property around the Pantone Color Matching System, a well — color matching system — used to produce the brochures, posters, banners and other propaganda that we graphic designers, marketing types and printers like to foist upon unsuspecting consumers like you.
The PANTONE HOTEL mostly succeeds: I give them an A for cleverness, an A- for aesthetics, an A for originality and a big, fat F for floor coverings. The Pantone people are clearly artists first (they’ve created a very sexy brand, considering they’re dealing with a color matching system), hoteliers second. Read on, I’ll explain…
GETTING TO THE PANTONE HOTEL
From Brussels Airport: buy a Zone 7 ticket to Midi/Zuid Station (two names because maps and signs are in both Dutch and French): it’s a quick trip. From there, take either a taxi or the subway. The PANTONE HOTEL website tells you which direction to take (Simonis), which stop (Hotel des Monnaies/Munthof), and how many stops it is away (2), but the instructions abandon you from there. When exiting the subway station, head down Rue de l’Hotel de Monnaies (you can go in only one direction) one block, turn right on Rue Berckmans, continue two blocks and it’s on your right.
PANTONE HOTEL ATMOSPHERE
Whimsical. Bathed in natural light and sprinkled with Eero pastil chair confetti, the lobby is cheery and welcoming. The connected restaurant is open and minimalist – lots of shiny white with splashes of color. Unfortunately the corridors on the sleeping floors are dark and confining, nearly claustrophobic.
PANTONE HOTEL SERVICE
The guy who checked me in was genuinely outgoing. He offered several sightseeing recommendations and highlighted them on my map. He asked about my room preferences and emphasized that if I need anything, to just call.
PANTONE HOTEL GUESTROOMS
Yikes. Hit and miss here. Although the palette of my first room was quite pleasing (Pantone 7441C and 2725C), I had to stack the furniture to make room for Bagzillo, my trusty Harmann suitcase. Worse, it smelled funny, like a Belgian shepherd left out too long in the rain. The stink likely emanated from the nasty BLACK SHAG (sounds like a porno) carpet. I was skeeved-out: who knows what was growing/living/dying in that stuff. BLACK SHAG CARPET. I expect more from the sophisticated Pantone tastemakers, like, polished concrete floors. On another note, I had but a small window overlooking the fire escape.
I took the front desk guy up on his offer to help if I needed anything, and he changed my room to a larger one with windows encompassing an entire wall. Calming blue (Pantone 2718C, 301C and 277C) accents this time. Alas, more nasty 70’s style BLACK SHAG carpet. I applied a layer of socks every time I walked from the bed to the bathroom.
PANTONE HOTEL VALUE
Good. I paid 250 Euros for three nights.
THE PANTONE HOTEL, IN CLOSING…
I appreciate the PANTONE HOTEL for its quirk and clever nods to the spectrum – Mondrian toilet paper; mardi gras shampoo and soap containers; the green plant – it’s clever marketing and definitely unique. However, I expect a few quality hotel basics: a working thermostat; decent towels; standard-size pillows and sanitary floors. I don’t regret staying at the PANTONE HOTEL because it was a unique experience and the pros outweighed the cons. Plus, I can brag about it to my fellow marketing types.
OTHER BOUTIQUE HOTELS FOR NICHE MARKET
If the PANTONE HOTEL is your glass of beer, you may like:
The Commons Hotel (Minneapolis, Minnesota): This hotel targets smart geeks (not a group I’m sure I want to hang out with). It’s currently going through rennovations and receiving unfavorable reviews.
Hotel Red (Madison, Wisconsin): This hotel targets Badgers fans, and is conveniently located vomiting distance from the University of Wisconsin stadium.
The Iron Horse (Milwaukee, Wisconsin): This hotel ostensibly targets bikers (it’s near a Harley Davidson dealership) but don’t let that fool you: it’s a sexy, swanky property with exposed bricks, loft-style rooms, open marble showers, an edgy/classy lobby bar, library, etc.