Since Chicago-based hospitality group Aparium launched in 2011, it’s been involved in opening some of the most interesting projects in the most unexpected American destinations like Detroit and Milwaukee. Its latest enterprise — the 11th in the portfolio — Hu. hotel has just opened in the city of Memphis, known for Blues music and barbecue.
Hu. hotel’s home – in a Beaux Arts building from 1905 – provides the style foundation for Brooklyn-based designers HOME Studios, who layered local references (from the modernism prevalent in the city in the 1950s and 1960s to the neon signages you’d find outside Memphis bars) to create a truly textured look.
The lobby’s double-height ceiling; sheer, barely-there drapery; brass-trimmed sculptural chandelier; and low-slung leather chairs immediately deliver on this medley of inspirations. The 110 guest rooms follow suit but with a few more elevated touches like pink upholstery, Carrara marble, custom mix-media headboard, and framed photos of places around town. For aesthetes, there is plenty to look at (or post on Instagram) but the sharp design ethos means no corner ever feels cluttered or overdone.
A big part of Aparium’s MO is to weave in the local experience into the hotels they open. At Hu. (named after Hugh ’Hu.’ Lawson White Brinkley, a historic Memphis figure) this means a restaurant that evokes the iconic diners of the American South; an in-room cocktail – the Memphis Toddy – crafted by nearby Old Dominick Distillery, and, if you’ve really forgotten where you are, head up to the year-round rooftop, a spectacular perch from which to look at the city and the Mississippi River.§