My husband doesn’t care for anything too fancy or too hip, especially not a hotel. Give him a Residence Inn, and he’s happy. So when a friend of mine recommended we stay at the Modern Hotel during a recent visit to Boise, Idaho, he pooh-poohed it. After a bit of nudging on my part, however, he gave in and booked us a room (Queen $98 – minus 10% for AAA membership).
Designed by a local architect and built on the bones of an old Travelodge motel (at 13th and Grove, in Boise’s Linen District), the outside of the Modern is a bit unexpected.
As we drove up, my husband said, “Where? I don’t see it.”
“What? That?!” he said.
The ground-to-roof horizontal metal bars lining the walkways and upper-level balconies are, I imagine, meant to mimic a mid-century modern aesthetic, but at first glimpse, they do read less hip hotel, more psychiatric ward.
“This is weird,” the hubs said.
Once inside the room, however, he nodded his approval. “Spare” is the word he used. And it is. Very. But in a sexy way. Think naughty lunchtime rendezvous between Joan Holloway and Roger Sterling in Mad Men.
I suddenly understood why a person could feel not-so-comfortable in fancy, gilded hotel rooms – who can compete with all that glitz? The details (cozy pillows, a glass-and-tile shower, soft lighting and Aveda bath products) add touches of luxury to the otherwise simple functionality of the room’s design.
At the bar/restaurant, we giggled about the fact that the male bartenders dress like accountants while simultaneously enjoying the hell out of their drinks. My old man drank a Bea Arthur (scotch, honey, lemon, orange peel, up), and I had the Lucky Frieda (heaven in a high ball glass). We stuck to the tartines (yum!) and a salad for a light snack before we headed downtown a few blocks away for dinner, but the Modern menu does have a selection of locally sourced, seasonal fare ($7-$24).
Over fresh croissants and strawberry jam (free!) in the morning, I mentioned the possibility of making a tradition of it: one night at the Modern during each visit to Boise.
My old man chuckled. But he didn’t say no.
Two bits of advice before you go:
1) Keep your eye out on the hotel website for events. Thursday evenings, they have music in the courtyard during the summer months. And the first Thursday of May is reserved for Modern Art, an annual event where artists take over the 39 rooms and suites, creating installations where they display their work.
2) If you’re a light sleeper, be sure to ask for a room at the opposite end of the hotel from the bar and the courtyard, where locals and hotel guests congregate until midnight and later.
And when you do turn off the lights to go to sleep, look up. Our ceiling was aglow with stars.