David Bowd knows Asbury isn’t cookie cutter. That’s why he didn’t want to create just any generic hotel.
The Asbury Hotel’s decor and vibe pays homage to the city by the sea.
“The whole concept of The Asbury was about creating a hotel that really was highly connected to the local neighborhood,” Bowd, a part owner of the hotel, said. “I believe the future of travel is that everybody is looking for that local experience.”
Walking inside The Asbury, there is a central theme: “It’s your hotel, you do with it what you want,” Bowd said.
The lobby features a casual, communal, all-day space where there is always an array of activities, like live music or poetry readings. It is designed with different types of seating, including bleachers, couches in the lounge area and bar seating.
“The bar area was designed so it wasn’t so precious,” Bowd said. “You can pick up a chair and move it suddenly if 10 of you want to sit together and not feel awkward if you move things around.”
But what about the upstairs, where most locals haven’t had the chance to witness?
An inside look
Upstairs, there is a very beach bungalow feel.
Where guests from Manhattan, Brooklyn and even Europe come for a little getaway at the Shore.
“We wanted it to feel like a summer cottage,” Bowd said. “We wanted you to feel like if you have sand on your feet, it’s not a big deal. You can just brush it off.”
Dominic Kozerski, the architect of the hotel, said the idea was to create rooms that were simple and functional, with bright white walls and plenty of natural light.
Each of the rooms features pixelated photograph posters that are a nod to the history of Asbury Park.
Some feature pictures of surfboards in the sand, others of Ray Charles, who performed at Convention Hall in 1966. And of course there is one of Bruce Springsteen.
Bowd said throughout the hotel, there are about 21 different images guests can enjoy.
“They recall the glory days of Asbury Park,” Kozerski said.
The hallways are no different.
When the elevator doors open, guests are greeted by music. Different song titles and lyrics from well-known artists are painted along the walls in a bright, green color impossible to miss.
Neil Young’s “My My Hey Hey,” Joan Jett’s “I love rock and roll” and The Rolling Stones “Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself” can be spotted.
“When waiting for the elevator with (other hotel guests), there’s always an awkward pause,” Bowd said. “You never really know what to say. I call it the pre-elevator awkwardness. We collectively (came up with this idea). We sat down, and said, ‘OK, these are our favorite records, songs and artists.’ ”
The music is a conversation starter among hotel guests, Bowd said.
“What people have said to me is that it’s been a real game of, ‘OK, I know this line, but I don’t know the song. It’s in my brain, and it’s driving me insane. Help me.’ ”
No two artists are repeated twice throughout the hotel — except for Prince.
The first album Bowd ever bought on vinyl was Prince’s “Purple Rain.” To this day, it’s still one of his favorites. When Prince passed away this year, he decided to pay homage to the artist twice throughout the hotel.
“It’s really about making you hum the tune while waiting for the elevator,” Bowd said. “It’s something to think about, something different.”
Celebrating Asbury Park
Throughout, there are little quirks and charms that celebrate Asbury Park.
Unconventional colors, like black ceilings that cover the exposed pipes, gray walls and bright neon yellow doorways line the hallways.
Kozerski said they felt they could get away with more unconventional designs not often found in luxury hotels.
He felt Asbury Park had a utilitarian industrial style common among local designers and artisans that would be appreciated in the hotel.
“I loved the energy and vibe of Asbury — it’s much more aesthetically conscious, more wacky and more artistic than any other place on the Jersey Shore,” Kozerski said. “In Asbury, we felt we could get away with a lot of color and not necessarily be critiqued for picking colors maybe people don’t like.”
The most luxurious rooms include the Park Suite and the Ocean view Suite.
Its 580-square-foot room features a king-size bed with a plush pillowtop mattress, a bathroom with a rainfall shower head, a flat screen TV and a panoramic view of the Paramount Theatre and ocean.
“It’s one of the most interesting rooms because the bedroom side feels just like the other rooms, but then you open up the curtains and you’re kind of in this glass box with great views and amazing amounts of life,” Kozerski said.
The glass room features a sofa that was custom designed and features vintage gingham upholstery. The sofa can comfortably fit two, and pulls out to work as two twin-size beds.
The Ocean view Suite bed features a custom plywood bed rather than a fine finished wood veneer, which Kozerski said is more easily available.
“(It has) this very utilitarian, ‘We’re not fancy, we’re kind of honest’ impression,” he added.
The bed comes with built-in cubbies next to both the right and left side, where guests can easily store their jewelry, phone or wallet before going to bed.
Inside the room, there is also a dining room table that he calls “virtually indestructible.”
The Asbury Hotel imported the table from Holland that is very unusual to find in the U.S., Kozerski said.
“We wanted to make sure there was always something that made you feel like (the designer) thought about it,” Kozerski said. “I think that resonates a little bit with the design and artist (side) of Asbury, where everything has a little twist to it.”