It even smells luxurious in here. A blend of spices, leather, smoke and flowers, all notes found within a custom fragrance called “Metallic” that the 106 Jefferson boutique hotel commissioned for its lobby. Eyeroll if necessary. But the aroma adds something to the experience when entering this elegant hotel.
A project that’s been in the works for years, 106 Jefferson, part of Hilton’s “Curio Collection” brand, opened in August on the same block as local fusion restaurant Phat Sammy’s. It is right next to the courthouse square. The seven-story hotel, with an address equal to its name, consists of 115 rooms and 12 suites.
The hotel’s classic exterior has been a striking addition to downtown Huntsville. And once you walk in, the valet passes, into the high-ceilinged (and yes, scented) lobby, the vibe only intensifies. Lobby furniture includes a custom curved sofa and large scale abstract art prints. There is an elegant variety of earth tones, blacks, whites, and pops of color. Echoes of art deco abound.
106 Jefferson is built on the former site of Hale Brothers Furniture and the Huntsville Hotel, the latter a first-rate stay here in the 1850s before catching fire in the 1910s. “It was the epitome of hotels back in the day.” says Mary Beth Lewis, 106 Jefferson’s director of sales and marketing.
The new hotel has reused some materials from the past of the site. For example, Hale Brothers wood was used on the floor of The Revivalist, the restaurant inside 106 Jefferson. Bricks from the Huntsville Hotel were also incorporated.
106 Jefferson’s look includes many nods to Huntsville’s aerospace heritage, from doorknob labels that say “ON A MISSION,” to wallpaper depicting “monkeynaut” outside the rooftop bar lift. The chandeliers in the hall were made of semiconductors. Project designers include Dallas-based Looney & Associates and New York-based consultancy Indiewalls. The hotel’s gift shop features items from the Huntsville business, including handmade jewelry, leather goods, and locally roasted coffee.
Average hotel room prices range from $ 238 for two queen beds or one king bed to $ 777 for a suite with one king bed. Rates depend on length of stay and time of year. (More information at 106jefferson.com.)
The rooms have a classic and contemporary style. The color palette includes corn, navy, and cream. The result is an elegant but comfortable aesthetic. A bit like the bedroom in that final scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey” but much cozier and more southern.
The bathrooms are luxurious and bright and are open with sliding door type entrances. Hope you like the showers because there are only about 10 bathtubs in the entire hotel. “Most people don’t want to be in someone else’s bathtub,” Lewis explains.
The technology is fully integrated. Things you can control from your smartphone, via an app, at 106 Jefferson include: opening your bedroom door; adjust the thermostat; call the valet; tip the valet; select your room from an online floor plan; checking in; and paying for your room. If you prefer to interact with humans, the hotel has approximately 70 of them.
The 106 concierge is called a “Guest Experience Manager” who can help guide the traveler to local must-do activities that match their interests, be it live music, craft beer, hiking, visual art, etc. “Everything we do is experiential,” Lewis says. “And that means his experience would be different from mine. He’s not a cookie cutter. Traveling is a very lonely thing, but we became his family.”
106 Jefferson has hosted guests from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom, Lewis says, as well as domestic travelers from places like Washington, DC and Nashville. The staff also have an international flavor. The hotel’s general manager is from Spain and the catering manager is from Bulgaria, says Lewis.
However, you don’t have to stay there to enjoy 106. “We want this to be a place for the locals to come in, enjoy themselves, relax and cool off,” says Lewis. There is a rooftop bar, named Baker & Able in honor of the two monkeys that NASA used to test the biomedical effects of space travel, with indoor and outdoor seating and a view of Mount Sano mountain in the distance. They have local beers on tap. For cocktails, they make all their own juices and bitters from scratch.
Back on the ground level, The Revivalist restaurant can be accessed from inside the hotel or directly from the street. I had lunch there a couple of times and it’s an affordable way to enjoy the atmosphere at 106.
They make a $ 16 pork sandwich that is basically a fancy barbecue remix. A solid piece of tender pork that is more roast than pulled pork. The sauce, spicy with a touch of exotic fresh herbs. The pickled onions add zing while the scraped carrot adds an intermittent delicate crunch. The brioche bun is soft as a dream, but not so bloated that it takes up too much of the pork bandwidth.
And the fries that come with it, oh man. Golden, crispy and hot plates of amazing potatoes. If you don’t like fries or are trying to cut down on the fun, you can opt for a house salad or a cup of soup. I also had a catfish sandwich at Revivalist, but it looks like it’s already on the menu (as of the presentation of this article) and that’s a shame. The catfish was a fresh-tasting fingerprint-sized steak garnished with pickled jalapeños and hot sauce. An elegant po-boy. BREAK
The Revivalist lunch menu also enters burger, club, and Reuben territory. Each one costs around $ 15, including the side. There are main dishes like mushroom ravioli and shrimp with grits for about the same price. They also serve breakfast (pancakes, omelettes, French toast, etc., $ 13 – $ 15) and dinners (steak, seafood, pasta, etc., $ 20 – $ 43). Adult drinks range from a pint of locally made Yellowhammer Belgian white beer ($ 7) to wines by the glass or bottle ($ 9 / $ 40 and up) and cocktails like the “Perfect Manhattan” ($ 16).
The Revivalist dining room has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Hardwoods, paneled walls, exposed beam ceilings, soft, natural light. Seating at the beautiful wooden bar offers a view of passers-by on Jefferson Street.
The service at Revivalist is thoughtful and accurate. They close every day between 2 and 5pm, and the first time I had dinner there I arrived at 1:50 and the waiter still happily served me. Besides that noon close, the restaurant’s hours are from 7 am to 10 pm on Sundays, from 6:30 am to 10 pm from Monday to Thursday, from 6:30 am to 11 pm on Fridays and from 7 am to 11 pm on Saturdays.
Given its glamor, 106 Jefferson seems like the kind of place, say, a touring artist would stay performing at the nearby Von Braun Center or the upcoming Orion Amphitheater. The hotel is equipped with a private rear entrance to accommodate celebrities and such. And specific floors can be electronically locked for privacy.
Lewis says 106 Jefferson is working with the VBC, Orion, Broadway Theater League and other local arts entities. “They are bringing in people from all over the world and they want a place for people to stay that maybe matches where they come from. This is a different kind of experience and I think it helps raise our city in the eyes of others who are looking to work here, move here, live here, whatever the case may be. “
If you’re a celebrity rocker who can afford a $ 777 suite or just an average local like me who’s more of the $ 16 sandwich type, 106 Jefferson has an escape for you. And who could use a little more escape these days?