It’s a misty morning and the directions to Hotel Covell lead to an alley behind Go Get Em Tiger coffee bar and McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (made from California-local dairy). By the apartment style parking reserved for the hotel, a small sign marks the door to the lobby. Inside, front of house staff greet guests and hand over a brass oval Hotel Covell key ring with a room number. Walking up to the room, the sun begins to burn through the clouds for another bright sunny day in Los Angeles.
Dustin Lancaster came up with the idea of opening a small hotel after opening Bar Covell in 2010. He transformed the five apartments above the wine bar into a boutique hotel in 2015. Naturally then, Hotel Covell offers an apartment-like setting but coupled with hotel staff and amenities. Recently they acquired the building next door and added four new rooms. When reserving one of the nine suites at Hotel Covell, which they call “Chapters,” guests can explore the venue through a house-tour style series of images on their website. Further, the suites are appointed to be ideal settings for short or long stays.
Sally Breer of ETC.etera designed each suite to tell its own story. A document written by Breer, with Lancaster, gave them a template to create each room to reflect a chapter of the story they created for inspiration. Their fictional character George Covell comes from Lancaster’s hometown of Oklahoma City and documents his journey to Los Angeles and travels around the world. “The idea of the chapters was all her,” says Lancaster about Breer’s inspiration for the hotel design. “She came up with the story of George Covell. She said, ‘I have this crazy idea.’ She blended my growing up in Oklahoma with her upbringing and created this story connecting Oklahoma, New York, and Paris.” To bring the Hotel Covell project to life and illustrate the story, Breer searched for many vintage items all while having several custom pieces made for each room. The Moroccan-themed Chapter 4 suite tells the story of Covell’s travels. Breer filled this two-bedroom suite with vinyl records, a cozy sectional sofa facing vibrant malachite wallpaper, and vintage gems at every turn.
The four new suites are inspired by the life of George Covell’s fictional daughter, Isabel. “You can see a late teenage glimmer of her in Chapter 5 from the first phase of the hotel,” explains Breer. “She’s French American and raised by fairly eccentric and dynamic parents. If I’m being very honest, a lot of Isabel was inspired by my life.” Breer hand-painted the bed and backdrop in Chapter 6 that evokes an 80s aesthetic. “I bought a whole bunch of raw canvas, laundered it and then rolled it out in my loft. I spent a couple days painting. It was a process, do a few yards, let it dry, launder it, do a few more yards let it dry,” she explains. With a hint of the ’80s, this suite is sparse and bright.
Chapter 7 features pops of orange and green. The eclectic Chapter 8 furnishings have mirrored cube night tables in the same space as a macramé wall hanging and cobalt blue kitchenette. Chapter 9 pairs a Japanese-inspired look with bohemian accents and a low, carpeted platform bed and a vibrant rug layered over a sisal one. The platform bed was designed by Breer and custom made in Los Angeles. “I referred to Chapter 9 as ‘The Future,'” says Breer. “Which was supposed to have subtle nods to Japanese style, with a ’70s disco interpretation. It was very hard to design because I hadn’t lived it yet and quite literally, I wasn’t sure what the future should look like.”
Though there are only nine suites, the full service hotel will take care of anything—from arranging laundry to massage appointment in the room. Bar Covell, opened five years before the hotel concept, is at the ready in the evening as a popular destination for locals and hotel guests with a rotating wine list and small plates. In additional to Bar Covell is one of LA’s most delicious daytime restaurants, Home State, known for their Austin-style breakfast tacos served on homemade flour tortillas. This setup gives hotel guests a fast track to living like a local. For a truly exceptional dining experience the James Beard finalist restaurant Kismet, with Mediterranean inspired dishes and helmed by chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, is a short walk down the block.
Next up for Lancaster and Breer is a new boutique hotel project in the burgeoning Arts District—set in a 1920s firehouse that will have nine rooms with a coffee bar and restaurant.
Second image by Julie Wolfson, fourth image courtesy of Hotel Covell, all other images by V.F. Wolfson