share
by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | December 31, 2014

Since 1988, the U.S. hotel industry has grown from roughly 3 million guest rooms to nearly 5 million in 2014. This year alone, according to Smith Travel Research, U.S. room supply is expected to increase by 1.3 percent, with growth varying by market and hotel segment. Here's a look at four new-build meeting hotels opening this month, in uniquely different urban destinations.  

Commoner restaurant at the Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh• In Pittsburgh, the 248-room Hotel Monaco (www.monaco-pittsburgh.com) will be San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Resorts' first property in the Pennsylvania city, which has 1,500 rooms currently under construction. Four other hotels are being built within blocks of this downtown property, the Beaux Arts-designed former headquarters of a prominent law firm. Like all Kimpton properties, the hotel is destination-centric. Its four meeting rooms are named for prominent Pittsburgh citizens, such as Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine, and Roberto Clemente, a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee who played eight seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Guests rooms feature whimsical touches such as a bedside birdcage chandelier, Kelly-green headboards, and goldfish upon request. Its tavern-style restaurant, The Commoner, reflects the city's industrial past with its massive steel girders and long communal-style tables.

Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph• The 135-room Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph (www.starwoodhotels.com), sits in the middle of this Ohio city's Short North Arts District. With its sleek, modern style, oversized artworks and cool lighting, this cosmopolitan property will feature all of the Paris-born brand's signature amenities and services, including a two-story signature Le Méridien Hub, which reinterprets the traditional lobby; curated artwork; and an artist-designed  guest-room key card that doubles as a discount entry pass to several of the city's cultural sites and art galleries. In addition to a full-service restaurant, a bar and a 24-hour business center, the hotel features 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

• After more than a year of delays, Richard Branson's first Virgin-branded property, the 292-room Virgin Hotel Chicago (www.virginhotels.com), is set to open in the Loop, in the landmark 1928 Old Dearborn Bank building just south of the Chicago River. The hotel's renovation seamlessly marries Old World architectural charm with high-tech convenience, such as an app that lets you do everything from checking in to controlling the thermostat in your room. But there also will be decidedly British elements, such as The Commons Club, which will offer afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, pastries and Rare Tea Cellar teas. In spring, the hotel will open a 4,000 square-foot event space on its 26th floor, with a bar carved out of an elevator shaft.

Renaissance Hotel Allentown, Pennsylvania• The 170-room Renaissance Hotel Allentown (www.renaissanceallentown.com) in Pennsylvania is a welcome addition to a downtown that's been in decline for nearly three decades. The $65 million hotel project, which targets business travelers, is housed in the imposing former Dime Bank building and attached to the new PPC Center hockey arena. Guests pass through what once was the bank entrance into a spacious, contemporary lobby featuring locally inspired artwork and unique architectural trimmings, such as iron-pipe handles on doors and polished metal drawers, which recall the glory days of the region's steel industry. A major sell is the 20,000 square feet of meeting space, some of it overlooking the arena floor, where all the action of hockey home games will be played out.