The Dean Hotel
What We Love
- Jetsetter 2015 Best of the Best Winner: Best Style Steal
- Vintage decor from such places as France, Belgium and the Netherlands
- The Dean’s design by ASH NYC is full of carefully considered details
- An overall clean and contemporary look that retains original touches from when the building was constructed, in 1912
- Free WiFi
- READ MORE: 72 Hours in Block Island, RI
What To Know
- The hotel’s karaoke lounge, Boombox, is open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday (and it can be noisy)
- Rooms with bunkbeds are a tight squeeze
- Valet parking is $23 per night
- The hotel opened in April 2014
- No gym, but discounts to nearby Boston Sports Club are available
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
Fronting Fountain Street in downtown Providence, the Dean (the name pays homage to the city’s collegiate roots) was built as a “church house” in 1912. Fast-forward to 2014, and the four-story property has been lovingly restored and transformed into a boutique hotel by ASH NYC, but original elements (floors and an old-school crosshatch elevator) remain. The ambience is hip yet laid-back; the intimate lobby lounge features a library curated by a local bookstore and benches made from repurposed pommel horses, while upstairs the dim hallways have neon signs by artist Oliver Clegg with kitschy slogans such as “last chances.”
Bed and Bath
The hotel’s 52 guestrooms have a masculine tone (each has a different portrait dubbed “the Dean”), with salvaged dark hardwood floors, slatted blinds, wall-mounted antique Edison lightbulbs and elephant nightstands; some have separate sitting areas with buttery leather chairs. Low-slung beds with crisp white down comforters, pillows and Brahms Mount throw blankets sit atop metal frames from Providence metal artist Nate Nadeau. The bathrooms have doorless rainfall showers, vintage tarnished gold faucets, and black hexagonal tiling and wainscoting, as well as custom toiletries that are a blend of oils including Canadian fir, cedar atlas, bay laurel, bergamot, lavender and white grapefruit.
Start your morning with a cup of java from Bolt Coffee Company while flipping through one of the lobby’s art books. Faust is the Dean’s German beer hall, featuring murals by local artists Amanda Albanese and Kyla Coburn, and serves hearty eats such as pork schnitzel with malt vinegar–braised onions, peas and potato puree. In the rear of the space is a trendy cocktail den with an impressive custom woodwork ceiling. Perhaps the hotel’s best asset is the aptly named karaoke lounge, Boombox. Reserve a room with friends for an evening (it’s open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday) and belt out your favorite tunes.
In the Area
The Dean is within walking distance of Providence’s best attractions. Spend an afternoon browsing the galleries at the RISD Museum before embarking on a sunset cruise with Providence River Boat Company. Borrow one of the hotel’s bicycles and explore the city on two wheels, and make a stop at New Harvest Coffee Roasters in the Arcade (America’s oldest indoor shopping mall) and order a whiskey latte. Or take in a show at the Providence Performing Arts Center.
How to Get There
Since the Dean Hotel is such a great idea--and the staff members are consistently polite, charming, and helpful--I wish I could write a stellar review. A small, re-purposed historic building with carefully chosen, evocative furnishings, the Dean Hotel improbably resembles the Lily & Bloom Hotel in Tel Aviv, also a restored, small, residential building. The entrances and domestic-scale lobbies both feature beautifully displayed art and design publications and a café, but the rooms of Lily & Bloom are considerably more comfortable. At the Dean, the very spare approach to the design of the room will not appeal to everyone. The severe dark hues of the window frames contrasting with stark white walls may be off-putting, and on entering the small room some will no doubt make an unfavorable comparison with college dormitories. Despite the impressive metal craft of the beds and light fixtures, several interesting and well-intentioned design decisions in the room have unfortunate results: electrical outlets are hard to locate; there is no lounge chair; the feet of the bed protrude and cause tripping and stubbed toes; there is no place to set a suitcase or bag, much less a closet or bureau for storing personal items; there is no counter-height surface in the bathroom for guest articles; the bronze-finish spout blocks comfortable use of the handsome but too-small pedestal sink; the sink faucets operate as mirror images of each other and are confusing; the hot water is actually too hot and may pose a hazard; the black tiles of the bathroom make it so dark that we couldn't see the waste basket by the toilet; the shower stall is small, and air currents blow the wet curtain against the occupant; and, as is the case in many hotels, the choice of a down comforter means the guest is either too hot or has to sleep uncovered. Despite the choice of wood floors, the room itself was totally quiet, but, although not at all the fault of the hotel, a block party around the corner on Mathewson Street for Pride weekend kept us from getting a good night's rest.
The Dean is a unique hotel with plenty of character and charm. The bathroom was beautiful and squeaky clean, and the bed was as comfortable as any I have slept in. I had some work to do online (teleconferencing), and I was astounded by the ultra high speed of the internet. I also made use of the first-rate cafe and a delightful 'speakeasy' bar in the hotel. The staff is extremely helpful, as well.
Nice character hotel. Great location. Excellent restaurant attached. A real negative was no tea or coffee making facilities or refrigerator in the room which made it very difficult when the coffee shop was closed after 4pm. Also the shower was very small and leaked water all through the bathroom. Overall hotel was Nice enough but a little disappointing. Staff were very friendly and helpful. The gorgeous food at the restaurant would definitely bring me back if not the hotel.
This is a unique boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Providence. The location is great - within walking distance to restaurants, waterway, and colleges. The rooms are small with no closet space and the carpets in the hallways are old and frayed in some places, but the rooms are very clean, the beds are comfortable, and it has character. If you want a hotel that is different from the normal chains this one is great.The restaurant is excellent.
The Dean was memorable experience in every way - great staff, location and a compact beautiful lobby. The room was comfortable with interesting design details. The corridors were atmospheric and unique (David Lynch?) with pink lighting, a vintage cage elevator and neon lights.
Bolt coffee, the cocktail lounge and North (restaurant) were great too (I'd wished I'd gotten to see the Hofbrauhaus from before).
Two suggestions: the cleaning staff did a fantastic job in the room but noise from their movements outside the door were a bit disruptive in the morning hours.... it would also be nice to have some kind of kettle for hot water in the room - smaller details but just suggestions.