The Dean has it all – fine art installations, amazing coffee, karaoke and a chic speakeasy-style bar. Did we mention it’s a hotel?
There’s a real intensity to the coffee at Bolt Coffee Company, an unassuming counter that sprouted last spring in the lobby of The Dean in Providence, Rhode Island. The convent-turned-gentlemen’s club-turned-boutique hotel recently celebrated its first anniversary, and on any given day the shop is visited by a steady flow of hotel guests and Starbucks-averse locals. Some customers stick around to work at the cafe’s sole wooden table, while the city’s business clientele duck in via a convenient side door to place to-go orders. The specialty is an espresso tonic, which is, as you might guess, hot espresso poured into a glass of tonic.
The mosaic floor in The Dean lobby dates back to 1912. It was a pleasant surprise when workers disassembled the last remnants of the Sportsman’s Inn, the strip club that previously occupied the space. The floor contrasts nicely with FINE, a pink neon piece by British artist Oliver Clegg. Contemporary sofas and an antique pommel horse round out the lobby’s seating area.
“The Dean is packed with details, relics, works of art and individual stories,” says Ari Heckman, the Providence-born CEO of ASH NYC, the real estate/design firm responsible for the hotel. “All of the furniture in the hotel is either vintage or custom made in Rhode Island for the hotel,” Heckman says, noting that guests frequently inquire about the provenance of the vintage pieces.
Heckman, son of an interior designer and “an amateur real estate developer,” got his start at Cornish Associates, the company largely responsible for revitalizing the Westminster Street corridor of downtown Providence.
The hotel balances its love for the past with an appreciation of the contemporary. Monitors in the rear of the lobby feature a rotating selection of videos curated by artist Tamara Johnson. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson focuses primarily on work by students and graduates of her alma mater — though a recent video program was conceived in collaboration with the Ivy Film Festival at Brown University.
The Dean also participates in citywide happenings like the recent international exhibition for ceramics artists, and they’re teaming up with the Avenue Concept, a spraypaint-heavy public art organization, for the upcoming Providence International Arts Festival (June 11-13).
Bolt closes early — 4:00 p.m. — just as Faust opens next door. A German-style beer hall with a reputation for sausage, Faust operates as the hotel restaurant, while two bars at the back of the hotel provide either speakeasy-style cocktails (the Magdalenae Room) or sake and karaoke (the Boombox), depending on your mood.
Don’t worry; The Dean did a good job with soundproofing, so guests at the five-story hotel can sleep quietly under Matouk blankets made in nearby Fall River.