New hotel open in Grand Rapids: Inside The Finnley

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Visitors to downtown Grand Rapids have a new place to stay: The Finnley.

Located on the southeast corner of Monroe Center and Ionia Avenue NW, the five-bedroom, 2,600-square-foot micro-hotel celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 15.

While Brad Veneklase has been a real estate broker for more than two decades, The Finnley is his first hotel.

“I thought having more of a boutique style, smaller (hotel) with the nicer furnishings and finishes was something that our city was missing and (I) found an opportunity to do it,” Veneklase said.

With that opportunity came plenty of changes and challenges, including construction delays prompted by pandemic restrictions and the downtown riot. Delays also meant more dollars spent on The Finnley because of the rising price of construction and supplies. Veneklase said this has been his most challenging project, “but we got through it. We’re here.”

“An eight-month project turned into at least 24 (months). But you know, if you do it right and you take your time, it’s worth it in the end,” he said.

INSIDE THE ROOMS

(An Oct. 15, 2021 photo shows the interior of a hotel room at The Finnley, located at 65 Monroe Center NW in downtown Grand Rapids.)

Over the past two years, crews have transformed the former home of Revue Magazine from an open-floor office into a place to stay. Veneklase says they cut out a giant bank safe (a remnant of an earlier tenant) and added walls, reusing bricks and preserving a building sign that now hangs in the hallway.

What The Finnley lacks in size, it makes up for with distinctive design.

“I don’t even know the word for it. The design is what I like,” Veneklase said, laughing. “…It’s a mixture of colors and finishes, smooth tiles and wood and rough brick and smooth drywall.”

(The Finnley owner Brad Veneklase opens a record player that also operates as a Bluetooth speaker. Records displayed on the wall behind him can be played on the device.)

Each room features a king-size bed, half-inch porcelain countertops, new vintage-style Frigidaire miniature refrigerators, TVs equipped with Hulu, glass and metal cocktail sets and record players that also function as Bluetooth speakers. Playable records line the walls of each hotel room.

“(It’s) just another little experience that you just don’t always see somewhere,” Veneklase said.

In the bathrooms, premium WOW brand tiles cascade across the floor and into the shower. Veneklase also added first aid kits in green canisters to each bathroom.

“We just tried to take everything up a notch so that people can really enjoy the space when they come,” he said.

(An Oct. 15, 2021 photo shows a bathroom inside one of The Finnley’s hotel rooms.)

The Finnley is filled with artistic touches. A mural by Ellen Rutt covers the stairwell wall outside the hotel. Each room’s coffee maker is paired with handmade cups created by Veneklase’s neighbor. The cabinetry and bed frames were hand-built by a craftsman, according to Veneklase.

“Our designer found this space man artwork that she didn’t think I’d like, but as soon as she sent them to me, I said, ‘It’s perfect.’ And she was like, ‘Oh great, I’ve been wanting to use these on a project for a long time.’ So it just all came together,” Veneklase said.

(The Finnley’s hotel rooms overlook a mural created by Ellen Rutt.)

‘A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE’ AT CHECK-IN

Veneklase says The Finnley’s prices will reflect the market, averaging between $195 per night to the low $300s depending on the day and whether events like concerts or games are scheduled.

Rooms can be booked on Airbnb or The Finnley’s website. From there, hotel managers email customers a code that gets them into the hotel lobby and their room. Veneklase says each code expires after a certain time frame.

(An Oct. 15, 2021 photo shows the entrance to The Finnley boutique micro-hotel, located at 65 Monroe Center NW in downtown Grand Rapids.)

“It’s just on your own. It’s very much like an Airbnb house,” he said. “It’s a different experience.”

The Finnley planned on contactless check-ins long before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

“It just so happens that I think people appreciate that more now,” Veneklase said.

FAMILY BEHIND THE FINNLEY

One of the first people to experience a night in The Finnley was its namesake, Veneklase’s 8-year-old daughter.

From adding hearts to the outdoor mural to picking out vinyl with her record-loving mother, Finnley has been involved throughout the hotel project.

(Photos provided by The Finnley show the sign created by Finnley (left) and Finnley adding to the mural outside the hotel.)

“She set up her own play hotel in her bedroom. … And her chalkboard sign said something like, ‘If you need a place to stay, please stay at this hotel,’” Veneklase said. “It’s been a fun process. They’re really proud of what I do, they like the properties that I make and it’s fun.”

From day one, Veneklase knew his hotel would be named The Finnley after the daughter he hopes will someday want to own and run the business.

(Finnley pulls out a balloon from a closet in the room she picked for The Finnley’s grand opening.)

“I hope it’s a property she keeps and upkeeps and is proud of,” he said.

That’s a sentiment her father already feels.

“I’m happy with what everybody did in the end, and I think it turned out great. I’m really proud of it,” he said.

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