The Lancaster Hotel – redefining modern hospitality in Houston

The Lancaster Hotel – redefining modern hospitality in Houston

From its collection of over 200 works by noted contemporary Texas artists to its location in the heart of Houston’s famed Theater District, The Lancaster exudes a warm, classic elegance. Recently named the number one hotel in Houston by Conde Nast Traveler readers, the historic 1920’s-era boutique hotel enjoys a legacy of nearly 100 years of providing exceptional service and hospitality to a diverse and memorable group of guests that have included actors, musicians, dancers, business and leisure travellers, writers, poets, newlyweds, circus and rodeo performers, and even a horse. Mr Hudson speaks to Jay Shinn, Principal Partner, about the history of the property, its unique location and the guest experience at the hotel.

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Tell us about yourself

My name is Jay Shinn, and I’m Principal Partner at The Lancaster Hotel in Houston, living and working between Dallas, New York and Berlin. I received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, am an alumnus of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and my work can be found in numerous private and public collections worldwide. I believe that placing art outside of a typical art space brings additional context to the art. An unexpected encounter can be priceless in conjuring new meanings for the art. The excellent location in Houston’s Theater District made me want to add to the cultural mecca of the neighbourhood. Visual Art was missing.

Jay Shinn

Jay Shinn

What can guests at The Lancaster Hotel expect?

Guests of The Lancaster can expect a newly-remodelled, classically elegant boutique hotel nestled within Houston’s renowned Theater District within walking distance of Houston’s downtown hub of restaurants, live music, night clubs and fun. The renovated hotel has placed a new focus on the visual arts with a scene-stealing collection of more than 200 contemporary works of art by internationally recognized and respected Texas artists. Known for its warm and exceptional service, guests will feel welcomed and relaxed during their stay.

“I believe that placing art outside of a typical art space brings additional context to the art”

What makes The Lancaster Hotel special?

Aside from The Lancaster Hotel’s history, location and offerings, its staff makes each guest feel that their stay is of the utmost importance – whether they are interested in the hotel’s history, a tour of The Lancaster Contemporary Art Collection or simply a recommendation as to what their favourite entrée might be at the onsite restaurant, Cultivated F+B. It is also the only hotel that can claim cornerstone proximity to Houston’s celebrated Opera, Ballet, Symphony and word-class theatres all within a block of your stay.

What is the history of the property?

Built in 1926, the Italianate facade of The Lancaster was designed by noted architect Joseph Finger who also designed the Art Deco Houston City Hall, which is just a few steps from The Lancaster. Originally named The Auditorium Hotel, it sat across from the city’s main performance venue at that time until the construction on that site of The Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing arts. Guests of The Lancaster have included vaudeville performers, circus acts, opera, theatre and movie stars and even rodeo performers. A horse named Phantom also visited the lobby to promote the Houston Rodeo in 1935.

“Guests of The Lancaster have included vaudeville performers, circus acts, opera, theatre and movie stars and even rodeo performers”

How do you keep up with changing customer expectations?

The Lancaster Hotel has always been noted for its exceptional guest service. Still, we are quick to embrace ways to enhance that service by anticipating the needs and comfort of our guests – Whether its complimentary snacks and beverages in each guest room and suite, casually elegant dining in the Lancaster’s Cultivated F+B restaurant or the complimentary daily gourmet breakfast offered each morning on the Mezzanine.

What makes a great hotel?

The Lancaster is genuinely a special hotel. It begins with the hotel’s entire staff starting with the efficient greeting on arrival by our valets and the warm reception at the Front Desk, to superb dining at our Cultivated F+B restaurant to the design of the hotel’s public areas, guest rooms and suites. To further enhance the guest experience, each room features Nespresso coffee, Frette linens and Bulgari bath products.

Photo: Vlad Busuioc

Photo: Vlad Busuioc

How has hospitality evolved over the last decade or so?

The desire of each guest to experience something unique or stimulating during their stay has inspired an evolution of hospitality. The Lancaster Hotel is inspired to provide each guest with a memorable experience in the hotel and throughout Houston. For example, The Lancaster will provide personal tours of  The Lancaster’s exceptional contemporary art collection and will serve up a custom cocktail and gourmet dinner at Cultivated F+B before a night of culture in downtown Houston’s premier Theater District. For outside adventure, we consider it our job to know the places, sights and sounds that might be of interest to our guests and make recommendations to enhance their Houston visit.

What are some of your favourite places in Houston that people need to know about?

Some of my personal highlights in Houston include The Heights neighbourhood along 19th Street with unusual and vintage shopping, restaurants, and gastropubs; Bayou Bend Home and Gardens; the underground 1926 Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern; and the National Museum of Funeral History to name a few.

Any recommendations for our readers?

We would welcome the opportunity to be your hotel of choice when visiting Houston and its vibrant Theater District. While we are known as Houston’s “Art Hotel,” we highly recommend visiting the many museums and galleries that make up this dynamic city.

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