The Siren Hotel, Detroit’s Other Design Hotel

SUMMARY

The Siren Hotel features a stylish lobby and a cocktail bar worth a stop, but fails to deliver on overall design and amenities. Our sparsely decorated suite felt bare compared to the luxe decor of the lobby. Throw in details like in very low water pressure in the shower, and no coffee maker or mini bar in a suite, and The Siren just isn't providing value for the price.

Siren Hotel Review

Search for hip Detroit hotels, and there’s one big name that’s gotten all the press recently. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in this city on the comeback, there’s less hyped boutique design hotels like The Siren Hotel.

Just a couple blocks from the limelight of the Shinola Hotel in downtown Detroit, The Siren envelops visitors a luxe, vintage-chic aesthetic, beginning at the entrance, with Art Nouveau styled sirens adorning the doors.

The lobby is lush and inviting, with multiple sitting areas, and small outpost of Michigan’s Populace coffee.

The gift shop occupies a small area off the lobby, selling chic picks from local and international brands.

The Parlor Suite

I booked the Parlor Suite, which features a living area and bathroom downstairs, and king bed in a lofted second level, accessed by a spiral staircase.

The room looked cool in photos, and I’m very appreciative of unique hotels. Give me a historic hotel with amazing details, an escape with a sense of place, a hotel with immersive design, any day over the bland decor of so many luxury hotels. But overall, the room fell a little short of what I expected design-wise, and what I expect when I book a suite.

The Parlor Suite was stylishly appointed with a mix of vintage and modern pieces, though it still felt a bit bare, especially compared to the wonderfully maximalist lobby. Without much architectural interest added to the bare box of the room, the space could have done with a couple plants and more artwork.

The Siren’s photos of the suites do appear to show at least one large plant, so either they were only staged that way, or at some point the hotel decided to remove plants from rooms.

I was disappointed in how some of my photos came out, but they do accurately represent the space. The photos read more suburban condo than stylishly renovated suite in a historic building, because that’s unfortunately how the room looks.

There were televisions in both the living area and next to the bed, with local channels and streaming apps so you can log into Netflix or Hulu.

What was a little frustrating was that the TVs kept turning themselves on! At first we thought they were motion activated (is this actually a thing, though?), but when the downstairs TV turned itself on multiple times during the night, we had to unplug it to stop the daylight glow intruding on our sleep. Whether they were activated by a resident ghost, or simply very determined to fulfill their purpose, it was just weird and irritating.

The bed featured the Siren’s signature coverlet and high quality linens. The bedside lights had independent switches, and the left side of the bed had convenient switches for downstairs lights so you don’t have to walk up the steps in the dark.

Many reviews of the Siren complain about the small rooms, but this certainly isn’t the case with the suites, which are quite spacious. If you value having room to spread out, it’s worth the money to upgrade.

Downstairs, the bathroom has a large shower with terrazzo tiles, was stocked with plenty of towels, and offered ample space for two people to spread out toiletries and cosmetics. The toilet was in a small separate room, which I always appreciate.

If you’re thinking that the bathroom photos feel a little cold and bunker-like, we’re on the same page. Like the rest of the suite, the design was part of the way there, but the execution just fell short for me.

There was hand wash and lotion at the sink, as well as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in the shower, all custom blended for The Siren. I don’t generally use hotel shampoos due to insanely sensitive skin, but the hand wash was nice, with a pleasant citrus scent.

We noticed that the water pressure was rather low in the sink, which wasn’t really an issue. Unfortunately this was the case in the shower as well, and it was easy to get cold standing in the spacious open shower under the sad trickle of water produced by the low-flow shower head.

A bottle of Coke, Aqua Panna water, and Topo Chico, along with some local snacks were available for purchase on the table downstairs, but no mini fridge was available to cool drinks. Warm Coke, anyone?

I assume that they’re hoping you’ll purchase from the Populace Coffee shop in the lobby, but it was also disappointing to find that there wasn’t a coffee maker in the room, or the option to order room service. Yes, it’s easy enough to head downstairs, but one of my favorite hotel rituals is lazing with coffee in the morning–before I have to devote brainpower to things like wearing real clothing and brushing my hair.

Food & Drink

Set in the lobby of the Siren is a small outpost of Populace Coffee, and the Candy Bar, a swanky, highly Instagrammable cocktail bar. I didn’t get around to grabbing a coffee from Populace, but did make it a priority to stop in the Candy Bar.

Because they’re known for long lines, we came down right when the Candy Bar opened at 5, and were the first in. It was a good call, as they were packed when we returned from dinner later in the evening.

Service and drinks were excellent. When the bartender initially said the drink I wanted wasn’t available, then discovered it was, she brought out both my first and second choice, and comped the second. Both were great, but she was spot on in her advice about one being on the sweet side. I have a feeling this would be a favorite spot if I lived in the area.

Karl’s, the hotel’s retro style diner with a menu developed by much-loved local chef Kate Williams, is on the second floor. Much like Candy Bar, it seems to be popular local spot, though we didn’t have to wait for a table for a late morning breakfast on Saturday.

We ordered the French Omelet, and “Pancakes for the Table”, a big stack of pancakes served on a riser. I liked the smoked maple syrup they poured over the pancakes, but the pancakes themselves were just ok. Same with the omelet, it was edible, but wasn’t something I’d order again. I do like the idea of elevated diner fare, but am inclined to agree with the reviewers who say Karl’s is over-hyped.

However, I appreciate their commitment to local sourcing, and was curious about some of the classics on their menu. If I’d had more meals to allocate, I’d have come back for a spaghetti and meatball dinner, but it’s simply too difficult to resist the pull of Al Ameer when in Detroit. So don’t write off Karl’s if you’re staying at The Siren (but also know that Al Ameer is absolutely worth the cab fare over to Dearborn!).

Hidden in the back of the first floor, The Siren also hosts the 8 seat, reservation only Albena restaurant. At $130 a person for the tasting menu, it’s reasonably priced for fine dining, and has it’s share of rave reviews. But with so many food options, and so little time, we weren’t able to try Albena.

Location

The Siren is within walking distance, or a short cab ride, to plenty of fantastic downtown dining, bars, and shopping–as well as the jaw-dropping Guardian Building. You can’t beat the location, and whether you’re driving or taking a cab, it’s easy to navigate further out in the city for gems like Sister Pie, and the aforementioned Al Ameer.

For those who are driving, there’s paid parking across the street at the Opera House Parking Center, or valet parking for $34 a night with in and out privileges.

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