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June 03, 2016

A rundown former Salvation Army building in Asbury Park, N.J., has found new life as the Asbury Hotel, which opened Memorial Day weekend.

The shore town's first new hotel in more than 50 years, the property is "part Tim Burton, part [Bruce] Springsteen, and 100 percent Asbury Park," according to developer iStar, which cited its lobby and ground-floor hangout, the Pit, as hotel highlights. The lobby, which doubles as a tomato-growing greenhouse, sports a sunken seating pit, as well as a welcome desk that doubles as a grab-and-go counter where guests can check in, order fresh donuts or secure an Asbury beach towel. The Pit, which resembles a giant sunlit living room, has large sofas, board games and a library.

Elsewhere, the 110-room hotel offers a rooftop lawn where classic and cult movies will be projected at night; a music-themed bar made of stacked bathroom tiles; "bunk rooms" that accommodate up to eight people for adult slumber parties; an outdoor beer garden outfitted with a 1960s truck dispensing five kinds of beer; and Salvation, a monochromatic cocktail lounge lit at night by hundreds of lanterns and candles.

For meetings, the Asbury offers Asbury Hall & Lawn, a 5,500-square-foot indoor/outdoor event space that's divisible into three smaller venues.

The hotel aims for the nontraditional. It does not have specific check-in and check-out times, lacks a restaurant and room service to encourage patronage of local bars and restaurants, and allows guests to text message the welcome desk to obtain items from the grab-and-go counter.

"Hotels are usually structured and planned. With the Asbury, we created a place that sparks joy and spontaneity," said Anda Andrei, iStar's creative director and design lead for the project. "You can't have a boring moment here.  It's the same spirit of fun that makes Asbury Park such a treasure."