Hilton Garden Inn elevates downtown hospitality with award-winning service and style

FLINT, Michigan — After opening in November 2020, the Hilton Garden Inn, located in downtown Flint, has already won local and national achievement and service awards. The building, located at 110 W. Kearsley Street was built in 1919, formerly housing the Genesee County Citizens Bank. Today, original art-deco touches including original marble floors, giant bank vaults, unique railings, and antique sconces remain throughout the hotel space. 

Jeff Stableford, hotel general manager, says the building was closed for the last 20 years, before reopening last year. The space includes 101 guest rooms, each with a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, in-room safe, flat-screen TV, and wifi throughout.

There’s also 24/7 valet parking, a business center, market, guest laundry, five meeting rooms, and three restaurants on site. Since then, the hotel was nominated by the Flint and Genesee Group ‘Art of Achievement Awards’ for hotel of the year. The hotel has also finished 2021 in the top five percent of 790 Hilton Garden Inn hotels in North America, when it comes to guest service scores, according to Stableford.

Stableford says the upscale space and service constantly surprises visitors, from both near and far. “People that are coming to Flint may only know what they’ve heard on the news, some of the challenges that Flint and all cities have, but when they walk in the hotel, many of them walk in and are a little stunned to see such a beautiful hotel. It was done so well with a lot of the turn-of-the-century art-deco kept,” he says. “Even better, our guests or people from the Flint Genesee County area, who have not been back home in a while, when they walk in the door, it truly brings a smile to their face because they didn’t expect to see something of this magnitude downtown Flint. That was a big piece of why the hotel was developed. It’s more than just a typical business.”

A $40 million investment, made the project possible and included attention to detail when it came to original hardware, walls, sconces, and structures. “A big part of the original design was not just developing another building that looks like those off of the expressway. Expectations were higher, and they were definitely achieved. It makes a difference,” Stableford says.

“There is a lot of the original building that was kept by design or found and recovered. Stairwells that were built 100 years ago are still in place. Meeting rooms are all on a mezzanine that looks down into our restaurant, Sauce Italian American Kitchen. There is a railing that’s metal and glass, which no one knew was there. As they were doing construction, they found this railing. They recognized this as part of the original building, and had the broken glass that was missing remanufactured to keep the integrity of the original building. There are some sconces that are fairly detailed, with damages to them. As opposed to smoothing them over and making them look not so entertaining, they had those remanufactured. The design was really to showcase the building that’s 100 years old.”

Original marble floors, art-deco tile patterns, mailboxes, and bank vaults grace the historic space, creating an elegant getaway or staycation for many local residents. Director of Sales, Sheryl Champine says the hotel brand is excited to be an option for out-of-towners and local residents attending special citywide events like Back to the Bricks

“We’ve been getting people staying who are coming to events at the Capitol Theatre, the universities, the riverfront, and doing little ‘staycations’ going downtown to have dinner, see a show, and stay at the hotel,” she says.

The hotel itself has three restaurants, Federal Coffee House, Sauce Italian American Kitchen, and Simmer Rooftop Lounge. For Dan Wright, general manager of food & beverage, he constantly hears people’s reactions to the space’s surprising offerings. 

“We talk to people as they’re having dinner or a drink, and a lot of people have had to stay outside the city, and they have never actually seen downtown Flint,” he says. “Now there’s a reason to come downtown Flint because they can stay here, and they’re mostly surprised how nice it really is.”

Sauce Italian American Kitchen is open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Saturday, and for breakfast and lunch only on Sunday. They’re soon to expand to a Sunday brunch menu. Simmer, the rooftop bar is open Thursday through Saturday for theme dinners, including tastings of tequila, whiskey, red wine, etc. offering coordinating beverage and food options.

For Valentine’s weekend restaurant specials, staycation packages, and meeting room rentals, visit the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Flint's website

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.