What exactly is The Maker? A boutique hotel? A coworking space? The showroom of a lovingly curated vintage furniture store? During my stay in The Architect Studio, which features a rare Edward Wormley sofa and a massive, clean-lined black marble bathtub, I began to suspect it was a living museum—a tribute to acolytes of Frank Lloyd Wright or the Bauhaus school of interwar Germany, with every industrial lithograph, every curved modernist lamp in exactly the right place.
Turns out, The Maker, an 11-room hotel that opened last summer in a suite of turn-of-the-century buildings in Hudson, New York, is all of these things. And while it's not the first hotel to dabble in retail and extend its brand beyond an accommodation offering, founders Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg take things to a whole new level.
Glazman and Roytberg, partners in life and in business, have always approached their creative projects with a holistic view. In the '90s, they made a splash in the beauty industry as the founders of Fresh, a skin care brand known for its responsible sourcing. "We always approached Fresh as a lifestyle brand," Glazman told me over the phone this past winter. In other words, Fresh (which was acquired in 2000 by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) wasn't just about the products, but about the way they could be part of a consumer's broader approach to living.
When the pair first got the idea to branch out into hospitality, the idea of lodging-as-lifestyle-brand was equally appealing. Their relative lack of experience in the field was also something of an asset, though they did partner with hotel industry vet Damien Janowicz to help The Maker come to life. As Roytberg put it, they didn't want to create "just another hotel"—and they didn't really want to be constrained by the idea of what a hotel was supposed to be, either. "People always need accommodations," she told me. "But to host people is different. It creates pleasure around the thing in a whole other way."
But what does that philosophy actually look like? First of all, The Maker is a hotel entirely dedicated to a certain type of lifestyle—or rather, to those who live it. "We want to celebrate the 'makers' in a major way," Glazman explained. "We have always admired creativity and design and anyone who participates in that: artists, furniture makers, chefs, writers." Suites are named and styled after different creatives, such as The Writer or The Gardener. And the choice of location was intentional: Hudson, a small enclave 140 miles north of New York City, has in the past few decades become a magnet for style-minded creatives and is home to galleries, antiques stores, and eccentric boutiques.
In bringing their vision to life, Glazman and Roytberg wanted to work directly with the makers who have turned this region into something special. The hotel's roster of artisans includes Gary Diaz, Glazman's "light doctor," to whom he sent thrifted Parisian streetlights and midcentury Murano glass lampstands to make them look and work just like new; Gary Keegan, a master woodworker who helped modify or duplicate vintage pieces; and executive chef Michael Poiarkoff (formerly of Brooklyn's Vinegar Hill House), who crafts modern continental dishes like crisp, accordion-like potato gratin and tuna tartare made autumnal with dill and pickled fennel. Roytberg herself is also among the hotel's makers: She designed nearly all of the wallpaper.
As well as serving as a useful framework for the hotel's design and execution, the idea of hotel-as-lifestyle has also driven innovation in The Maker's business model. Glazman and Roytberg have diversified the way a hotel does business, bringing in varied partnerships and ancillary ventures that support the hotel's operations. In 2016, the pair opened Bartlett House, a bakery in nearby Ghent, which now supplies The Maker with pastries and preserves. There's also the just-opened Gymnasium, a workout studio and juice bar that's open to the public.
They stock their favorite items at shop.themaker.com: German velvet throw pillows, linen bathrobes made in Italy, a vintage-style writing desk from France. Glazman and Roytberg plan to keep adding unique pieces from their own collection to the shop. And a fragrance is in the works, already teased with a special-edition eau de parfum called Hudson, with 100% of sales going to the local nonprofit Friends of Hudson Youth.
Ultimately, for Glazman and Roytberg, building a hotel that cares for all aspects of a guest's life means turning a hotel into something more than the sum of its parts. Eventually, they hope to replicate this model elsewhere. "Just creating a beautiful space is not enough," Glazman explained. "It's not enough to create a body; you need to pump blood into the veins for it to come to life." Rooms from $375, themaker.com
More Than Just a Hotel
With a mix of offerings including retail and coworking spaces, plus social justice initiatives and community art projects, these hospitality groups also explore the notion that a hotel can be more than just a hotel.
This nine-year-old brand has been a pioneer of the community-focused hotel model. At the NYC location, rooms feature murals by Bard College art students, whose work is available for purchase; in Chicago, where Freehand opened its latest outpost in 2020, guests get discounts on local experiences like food tours and kayaking on Lake Michigan. Rooms from $169, freehandhotels.com
Like Soho House for the ski set (though a membership isn't required), this brand has locations in Colorado's best ski areas: Breckenridge, Vail, and, as of this summer, Winter Park. Membership perks include hotel discounts, access to coworking space, workshops, members-only trips, and discounts on the latest gear. Rooms from $200, gravityhaus.com
Activism and community engagement are central tenets of this maverick hotel brand; its media arm produces social-justice-minded documentaries and radio programs. The hotel also offers art, culture, and meeting spaces for members and guests. Eaton currently has a location in Washington, D.C., and a San Francisco property is in the works. Rooms from $129, eatonworkshop.com
A hospitality startup that offers travelers a happy medium between boutique hotel and Airbnb, snapping up rental units (or even entire buildings) and flipping them into chic serviced apartments—all with hotel amenities, contactless check-in, and 24/7 support. Sonder now operates in 36 cities across 8 countries; recent launches include converted properties in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Miami. (sonder.com)