Quirk Hotel, Richmond
Here we are—standing in the middle of Quirk, a snazzy boutique hotel in Virginia’s capital city. Marble steps line the staircase in the lobby, laced with limestone arches and eclectic light fixtures. This place is the bee’s knees.
The charming thing with Richmond is that there’s always a new treasure to discover, whether it’s up and coming or an old gem that the locals hold dear to their hearts (and may even prefer to keep it that way). This trip with my husband, Cody, involves a little bit of both.
“The Ukrops [decade-long owners of Quirk Gallery] bought this building in 1998 during the Harlem of the South. They had the idea [to open a hotel] in 2006 when the neighborhood was turning around, but the market crashed, so they waited until 2013 to start [planning] again,” Kate Brown, Quirk Hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing, tells us. In 2014, construction began, and in 2015, a long-time dream became a reality for the Ukrop family.
Marked by a retro marquee sign, Quirk Hotel opened in the Arts & Cultural District on Broad Street last September. Perhaps what sets Quirk apart from the rest of the spots I’ve discovered in RVA is that it takes the arts scene, foodie scene and ritzier side of Richmond and rolls them all into this alluring piece of art that’s decorated to the nines—not one inch of this place is left untouched. Formerly a grand department store, the intricate molding and the staircase to the original 1916 fire escape located in the lobby is still intact while the glam pink wingback chairs and artwork make for a stylish upgrade.
Cody and I beat the Friday traffic and walk right up to the check-in desk, a brass beauty of a welcoming in and of itself, where we’re offered a Destination Taste (a nibble or sip from around the area). Tonight features two flutes of local cranberry juice topped off with champagne—the perfect drink to settle into this weekend.
We drop off our bags to meet Kate downstairs for dinner at Maple & Pine, Quirk’s very own restaurant. We kick off the evening with a Silver Queen, a dangerously delicious cocktail of bourbon, toasted fennel seed-infused honey and fresh squeezed lemon juice, finished by a light scattering of bee pollen. We order a few appetizers including their raw scallops and oysters, but the highlight here is the roasted sunchokes, tasting like the most beautiful marriage between artichoke hearts and roasted potatoes. We try their rockfish with maitake mushrooms, charred scallions and dashi broth; tagliatelle pasta with butternut squash puree and oyster mushrooms; vanilla poached lobster risotto; and the roasted quail with Granny Smith apples and foie gras dirty rice. Though, if I have to pick a favorite, their dessert takes first place. The custard of yuzu is light, like I can eat this forever and never be full. Mixed with candied ginger and little specks of green tea crumble, a trio of Thai basil meringues sits atop for the most palate-pleasing dessert to date. Don’t even get me started about their cheddar cheese ice cream over an apple crumble!
We leave the lively Maple & Pine, splendidly satiated before retreating back upstairs to floor four.
Saturday we roll out of bed and head downstairs to Quirk’s coffee bar. With a couple lattes in hand, we plop down on one of their lush couches while the brunch crowd slips in, dazed in their morning lulls. The lobby is the heartbeat of the hotel. When you walk in, there’s a coffee bar and the entrance to their Quirk Gallery to the right. The dozen or so mismatched couches and chairs surrounding the area make it a chic and cozy spot.
Lattes sipped, and it was time to explore. We head just a couple miles away to the Church Hill area to visit a bakery called Sub Rosa. With a spread like spiced apple turnovers, croissants filled with fig and cheese and the usual suspect, chocolate almond, you can see my decision isn’t as easy as pie. I go with the sour cherry and pistachio croissant. A little savory, a little sweet … who am I kidding; this is darn skippin’ sweet. My better half lands on another croissant with thinly sliced salami and cheese folded into a neat sandwich-like pastry.
The sunny day invites us to stroll around the neighborhood boasting colorful buildings and a park. The many murals and built-in restaurants and shops of Richmond are perhaps one of the things I love most about this city.
Soon enough we’re hungry for lunch, and we find ourselves a few blocks from the bakery at The Dog & Pig Show, named after the owners and their horoscope signs. A cozy nook outfitted with an all-plant wall and two tables, most order to-go, but we’re lucky enough to snag a table. Cody goes for the grilled cheese with muenster, pimento cheese, tomato jam and mayo on pain de campagne. I order the bibimbap bowl of kimchi paste, beef, sushi rice, a fried egg and veggies. Tasty as it was, a meal like that needs some walking off.
Once we wander down the famed Cary Street known for its boutiques and eateries, we venture off the beaten path to discover a trio of vintage shops on South Addison Street. Na Nin, Addison Handmade & Vintage and Yesterday’s Heroes carry jewelry, locally-made perfume, sassy cards, art prints from local artists, vintage clothes and other trinkets.
Across the street lies one of the three locations of Lamplighter Roasting Company, a coffee shop treasured by the locals. But, we’ll save that for the ride home. Instead, we grab a couple pints at Triple Crossing Brewing Company before heading back to the hotel.
After a day of eating and walking, we retreat back to Quirk to get ready for another appointment with our appetites: dinner. A quick trip down Broad, left on Harrison and up a staircase lands us at the popular Italian spot, Edo’s Squid. Here’s a tip that will save you lots of waiting: just sit at the bar. Here’s another one: one appetizer and one entrée will suffice for two. We start with a salad of squid, white beans and arugula. Doused in plenty of lemon juice and lightly seasoned, it’s the perfect light start to your meal that doesn’t skimp on flavor. For our entrée we order the mixed seafood pasta with spicy marinara. Shrimp, rockfish and scallops are tossed in the most straightforward, savory marinara sauce over pasta. To say we’re full is an understatement.
The night ends with cocktails at Quirk and, I’ll be honest, another order of their yuzu custard because it’s just that glorious. The next morning, we stop at Lamplighter on Morris Street and head home with lattes to toast to one deliciously dreamy weekend.
Quirk Hotel is located at 201 West Broad Street, Richmond. Learn more by calling 804-340-6040 or visit DestinationHotels.com/Quirk-Hotel.