While Liza and family went off to New Orleans for a very long weekend, Nancy and I, freed (or deprived) of our Nanny obligations, went to … Detroit.
Actually we resumed our quest to complete 10k walks in all 50 state capitals, and targeted Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. That took us to Detroit on Day 1. Lansing, of course, is the capital, but we wanted to see a special exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Art featuring Jean Sallant, sister of Nancy Breul and a regular in the Annual Ladies’ Trips to National Parks. Jean was a lovely person and a professor at Michigan State Dearborn, and she was among another group of friends memorialized in a stunning piece in the Art Institute’s Day of the Dead exhibition, about which more below.
That’s a circuitous way of saying we spent the night at a hotel in Detroit. My research of downtown hotels led us to the Element Detroit at the Metropolitan. Let’s break that down. Element, having been swept up in the purchase of the Starwood hotels, is one of the many Marriott/Bonvoy brands. Metropolitan is the name of a1920s building once known as the Jeweler’s Building. We were both more than happy with the hotel.
The Metropolitan is a handsome building.
with a lovely entry.
and excellent service. We were upgraded to a king suite on the 10th floor with a kitchen, sitting area, and a nice view toward the Renaissance Center. An even better view is from the rooftop deck and lounge, which was very pleasant by day and even prettier by night. Nancy took this photo.
The building is essentially a triangle, and the wedge end has been used creatively for common spaces. The result is remarkably pleasant, attractive, and functional.
After we checked in after our long drive, Nancy and I took a pleasant walk around downtown Detroit. Numerous restaurants are within a few blocks of the Element. We didn’t make a very good choice. (a very under seasoned Cuban place), but the free breakfast at the Element made up for it.
That photo doesn’t do the breakfast justice, I’m afraid. The scrambled eggs — you can’t really see it here — were nice and creamy, something virtually unheard of in hotel breakfasts. The Element has a chef standing there and refreshing the food. That’s typical of the Element’s excellent service. The eggs were freshly cooked, as were the muffins and potatoes. That, by the way, is a very good hot sauce, (not (ugh) ketchup) on the potatoes. All in all it was a good breakfast.
After breakfast, Nancy and I went to the art museum. It’s a drive through a comfortable part of town — Detroit, like other cites, has some very welcoming areas along with the, uh, less so. The art museum itself is very good. The Diego Rivera murals are magnificent, and, to my delight, they have a good Early Renaissance collection. There is much more. It’s a fine museum, as one would expect in a city that was, 60 years ago, the richest in the nation
The magnet for us, though, was that piece in the Day of the Dead exhibit, and ofrenda, or Offering to the Dead, by Rachel Nikolajevs, celebrating Jean, Nikolajev’s mother-in-law, and Natalie, another friend. It’s a house set in a dark alcove.
The interior included traditional elements, including photos of Los Muertos on the top level, with favorite foods and activities (the beach, crafts, books).
The level of detail, as in the offerings of lobster, pizza, and linguini with clams, is stunning.
It was a striking and for us, moving piece, and the exhibit as a whole was fascinating.
I’d like to go to Detroit with someone who knows the city. Detroit is not a city that invites uninformed wandering. I know, viscerally, that there’s a lot there, as there is in almost every place I’ve visited. I’d love to look around and get to know Detroit and, God knows, the city could use the help. I encourage you to go with a bit more prior research than I undertook, and give the city a chance. When you do, the Element at the Metropolitan is the place to stay. Give it a try.
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