A First Look at the Lokal Hotel Fishtown

The newest entry in the budding chain of "invisible service" hotels is its first in Philly that's new from the ground up.

lokal hotel fishtown preview bi-level suite living room

The living room in the “Baller Jawn,” one of the two two-bedroom bi-level apartments in the new Lokal Hotel Fishtown. Some of the locals responsible for what you see: Living room console, Leeward. Mud cloth pillow on sofa, Knob Thorn Home. Lighting fixture, Noevara. Chairs, Noevara in collaboration with True Hand. Framed artwork, Megan Biddle. | This photo: Sandy Smith; all others: Heidi’s Bridge unless otherwise noted

The whole point of Lokal, the “invisible service” hotels co-founded by Chad Ludeman of Postgreen Homes fame, is that you get to experience the place you’re visiting as though you lived there.

For starters, your “room” looks and functions like an apartment. It even has a kitchen so you can fix your own meals if you choose.

And nothing gets in between you and your surroundings. Instead of a concierge to steer you to favored places and events, a guidebook to the area gives you tips on how to “Get Lost Like a Boss!”

The newest Lokal lodging is about to open in Fishtown. It’s right on Front Street, hard by the El, between Girard and Berks stations.

lokal hotel fishtown preview baller jawn bedroom

One of the beds in the “Baller Jawn.” Custom bed, Farmhaus Modern. Striped blanket, Thom Roland. Printed pillows, Flax and Symbol. Stepped planter, Cone 10. Lighting fixture, Noevara.

In contrast to the first location in Old City, this KJO Architecture-designed building is new from the ground up. You might also call it the city’s first hyperlocal hotel.

Coffee table, Farmhaus Modern. Black stepped planters, Cone 10. Coffee mug, Slopey Made.

That’s because Lokal commissioned True Hand Society, a design and tattoo studio based in Fishtown, to do the hotel’s interiors and branding.

They produced lodgings with a sleek, modern Scandinavian feel with the help of about 20 local artists, furniture makers, cabinetmakers, potters, fabric designers and craftspeople. Most of them, like True Hand, are also Fishtowners.

“One of our favorite parts about True Hand is the many relationships in the creative community that we’ve had the opportunity to make, so the chance to be able to work with so many talented people on this project was our strength in the design,” says True Hand artist/designer Mike Ski.  “Part of our strategy was to allow the individual makers to have their own distinctive voice within a set of guidelines to ensure an overall cohesiveness while allowing them a lot of trust and freedom.

Bar cart, Noevara.

“Basically, we let them do their moves without getting in the way and I think it’s what makes the subtle details that a discerning guest would appreciate.”

The True Hand team themselves designed the cabinets, slat walls, desktops and built-ins that Summus built for each of the six apartments in the hotel. They also collaborated with Noevara, which designed the lighting, on the chairs in the living rooms.

This was the studio’s first commercial interior design project, and according to Ludeman, “they crushed it.” Take a look at these photos of the first unit to be outfitted and see if you agree.

Planter: Domenic Frunzi. Plant: Stump.

The first and second floors contain studio apartments with queen beds, full kitchens and private baths. The rear unit on the first floor is also ADA-compliant and has its own private garden in back, carved out of the common rear garden all guests may enjoy.

The top two floors contain bi-level two-bedroom apartments that are like no other hotel rooms we’ve seen in this city. “You could live here,” says the hotel’s website, and if it didn’t cost $325 a night to stay in them, we might well have.

As with the other four rooms, these two apartments have sleek Toto toilets in their bathrooms. Each of the two bedrooms has its own concrete-topped vanity, and one of them has a soaking tub. A shared toilet and shower are in the second-floor hallway.

The unit pictured here is the “Baller Jawn,” one of those two bi-level top-floor suites. With 1,000 square feet of space, it’s the size of many city apartments, condos and houses.

And it has killer views to the west, across the El, and the east, into Fishtown.

lokal hotel fishtown preview kitchen

The kitchen in the “Baller Jawn.” Cabinet design, True Hand Society; fabrication, Summus. Floating shelves, Lostine. Leather cabinet pulls, Peg & Awl. Bar stools, Leeward. Lighting fixture, Noevara. | Photo: Sandy Smith

The kitchens in all six apartments feature bar seating, custom wood cabinets and leather pulls, and high-end appliances, including induction cooktops and Liebherr refrigerators.

The vanity and tub in the larger bedroom. Concrete counter, 1025 Studio. Mirror, Kenneth Miller. Lights, Noevara. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Every item of furniture and all the light fixtures are custom-made for this property.

In short, this is truly a one-of-a-kind hotel, and it offers you a guest experience like only one other lodging in town. That would be the original Lokal Hotel in Old City.

The first guests are set to arrive on Jan. 21st. If you’d like to be one for a staycation or you have visiting friends from out of town, you can head (or steer them to) the Lokal Hotel Fishtown website for more information and to book a stay.