Why Boutique Inns Are Outfitting Suites With Turntables and Stacks Of Vinyl

ISSUE 9 2019 - DO NOT REUSE!!!
Nick Simonite
The front office at Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin, where guests can browse a genre-spanning collection of vinyl.

In 2018, U.S. vinyl album sales grew 15%, according to Nielsen Music, marking the 13th consecutive year of growth. Record Store Day, the annual promotion in which local music retailers stock exclusive releases, launched 11 years ago and returns April 13. The latest frontier for vinyl? The hospitality industry, starting with boutique hotels in tourist cities.

Hotel Duniway -- Portland, Ore.

This April, the Hilton-owned hotel will debut its Vinyl Suite, a 350-square-foot room equipped with handmade players from U-Turn Audio and a collection of 900 records. (Victrola record players have been available for guests to borrow and take to their rooms since the Duniway opened in 2017.) “The older clientele that haven’t seen a record player in a long time immediately start smiling,” says GM Ryan Kunzer. “Then you get the younger, millennial generation that is very in tune with the new uptick in popularity of vinyl and are all about this.”

Kimpton Goodland -- Goleta, Calif.

At this branch of the 66-location chain, lodgers can browse the lobby’s record shop-slash-library, run in cooperation with the subscription record service VNYL, for albums to buy or borrow during their stay. The Goodland will host a concert by St. Lucia in August as part of a national Kimpton series. Director of sales and marketing Drew Parker sees the initiatives as a way to set his branch apart. “It’s not something guests are seeing at a Marriott, a Hyatt or a Hilton when they check in,” he says. “It’s the younger, road-tripping guests” -- not the weekday business travelers -- “that are the most excited and the ones buying the most albums.”

Hotel Saint Cecilia -- Austin

Guests can flip through the hotel’s lending library and borrow selections from an encyclopedic collection of records (classics like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Bob Marley & The WailersLegend and Carole King’s Tapestry are the most in demand) and rock’n’roll biographies to bring to their rooms, all of which feature Rega turntables and Geneva sound systems. Also available: private vintage-vinyl shopping services courtesy of local store Breakaway Records and, for the most musically inclined, Gibson guitars for rent from the concierge.

Hotel Max -- Seattle

In 2013, Hotel Max partnered with iconic label Sub Pop on the design of the 19 rooms on its fifth floor. Each is stocked with a turntable and a collection of vinyl from the imprint’s acts, including Mudhoney, Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes and Nirvana. “It’s an homage to the label and the impact it has had on this city,” says Shannon Overholser, media relations manager for Provenance Hotels, Hotel Max’s parent company. The program’s success inspired Provenance to try a similar concept at another of its Seattle properties, Hotel Theodore, with Light in the Attic Records, whose roster boasts D’Angelo and Built to Spill.

This article originally appeared in the April 13 issue of Billboard.