An L.A. Hotel Reconnects With its Feminist Roots Via a Vibrant, Art-Filled Renovation
Following an extensive renovation, downtown Los Angeles' Hotel Figueroa—a new member of The Leading Hotels of the World—is having its very own renaissance. Award-winning Santa Monica design agency Studio Collective updated and re-imagined the historic hotel, capturing its fierce spirit and restoring the property to its original splendor. Paying respect to the original Spanish Colonial design, Studio Collective maintained the building's footprint as they infused the hotel with modern touches. The team redesigned the property's 286 guest rooms and public spaces, enhanced the original lobby skylights, and rehabbed the iconic coffin-shaped pool.
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The renovation also provided a prime opportunity for the hotel to reconnect with its feminist past. First opened in 1926 as an exclusive women’s hostel run by the YMCA, Hotel Figueroa was, at the time, the largest project to be financed, owned, and operated by women.
Advertised as "an ideal stopping place for ladies unattended," Hotel Figueroa served as a safe haven for both female travelers and the emerging class of businesswomen, and it soon evolved into a forward-thinking gathering place that hosted musical evenings and art exhibits for female artists. The hotel's first managing director, Maude Bouldin, was a strong feminist figure who flew planes, rode motorcycles, and organized political events. Clearly ahead of her time, Maude is now immortalized in a bold crimson portrait by local Los Angeles artist Alison Van Pelt.
The portrait is part of a vibrant arts program—curated by Tiffiny Lendrum—which features a noteworthy collection of local female artists throughout the hotel. In fact, Studio Collective made an effort to integrate art into everything—a salute to downtown Los Angeles' booming art scene. Hand-painted elevator doors add a distinctive touch, and the entire back of the hotel features a very Instagram-able mural designed by UK–based artist Bella Gomez.
The hotel is even hosting an artist-in-residence program that will showcase new work in a lobby gallery. "We love the history of the hotel. Lots of hotel development is ground up, [but] this project had a rich history embedded in it, so there was no need to create a narrative," explains Adam Goldstein of Studi0 Collective. "We tried to keep the original bones and the original iconography that exists throughout the hotel—like the feminist upside-down triangles."
These triangles are featured in the original YWCA logo, and they symbolize feminine strength and power—which, just like the Hotel Figueroa itself, is definitely back.
Hotel Figueroa is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, hotels which embody the essence of their destination by their architecture, design, and cultural experiences. Room rates range from $339 to $2,999 and are subject to change.
Travel for this story provided by The Leading Hotels of the World.