Inner City Sanctums

Modern goes au natural at Kimber Modern hotel

Modern goes au natural at Kimber Modern hotel

Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_exterior
Photo by Andrew Collins
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_outside
Photo by Andrew Collins
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_hammock
Photo by Andrew Collins
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_bedroom
Photo by Andrew Collins
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_fruit
Photo by Andrew Collins
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_lounge
Photo by Andrew Collins
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_outside1
Photo by Andrew Collins
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_exterior
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_outside
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_hammock
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_bedroom
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_fruit
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_lounge
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_Kimber Modern_Nov 2011_outside1

I had to double-check the address for Kimber Modern before I left my house. How had I missed a chic boutique hotel only one block behind South Congress Avenue? But when I drive up to the slate grey exterior of the geometric gem, I realize it was because I had been looking for a hotel, not an architectural work of art.

I park underneath the first floor of the breathtaking building in the complimentary covered parking spots and enter my pre-assigned four-digit access code in the front door. There’s no front desk here. It’s all part of Kimber Modern’s innovative concept of “invisible service.” I simply let myself in as if it was my own home and immediately enter a pseudo-enclosed stairwell bordered with an entire wall of ceiling-high bamboo. I gaze up in awe of this bamboo buffer, shooting up from the earth, bulging up against all of the walls. All I can hear is the rustling of the leafy skyscrapers, blowing side to side in the steep corridor.

Walking up the stairs is like being swallowed up by the structure itself. Or more like slipping on an invisibility cloak. And that’s what it feels like to stay at Kimber Modern—like you're completely cloaked from the inner city stresses that lie just outside. You pull into what feels like your own driveway, type in your pass code and throw your things down in a room with every luxury known to modern man at your fingertips. All without speaking to or seeing a single person. Nothing is neglected; everything is simply taken of already. Including a full range of luxury personal amenities—or what owners Kimber Cavendish and Vicki Faust consider “necessities”—like complimentary wifi throughout the entire hotel, Malin and Goetz bath products, Happy D freestanding bathtubs in the suites, a virtual concierge (complete with desktop, printer, copier and scanner) and a “super automated” coffee system by Franke Flair in the common area, featuring specialty coffee drinks with the press of a button at any time of day.

It reminds me of what Albert Camus once said: “Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question.” I wasn’t just charmed, though; I was already completely smitten by this urban hideaway. 

And Kimber Modern is much more than just a highly autonomous, almost remote controlled, paradise for the digital-aged traveler. It’s a delicate balance of organic warmth and modern design that showcases the possibility of equality in our dichotomous modern-day lives. Walking through the hotel's courtyard, which feels almost suspended in the boughs of the huge oak trees that hover above, I almost feel like I’m inside a magnet, enveloped by the two polar opposites in the unique space: organic nature and modern technology. Or are they opposites at all? Every discerning detail here feels exciting and perfect, from the light filtering through a canopy of oaks in the courtyard, to the organic symmetry of the building's architecture (by architect Burton Balridge) to the bright blue hammocks suspended over an artfully landscaped courtyard of greenery.

After a night of relaxation, I get up around 7:00 a.m. (early for me) and head to the Common Room to indulge in the hotel’s complimentary gourmet breakfast. What looks like the modern day Don Draper is standing up over a small table, draining the last of his coffee and craning his head over an unfolded New York Times laying next to some dirtied dishes. He finishes the coffee and walks out briskly, straightening his tie—probably on his way to GSD&M. Right behind his discarded table, a tall, wiry guy in his late twenties is sitting hunched over and bobbing his head slightly in front of a computer screen full of jumbled HTML code. He’s probably been sitting here since dawn, I thought. But who wouldn’t want to wake up early in a place like this? It’s a modern monument to work and play.            

On average, Americans take only 11 days of travel time a year. Work and technology is engrained in everything we do. And for most people, finding an environment that is exceptionally designed for thinking and doing good work, is the best retreat they could ask for. So why wouldn’t we want to take our laptops with us to breakfast? Most of the accessories or “necessities” in our lives, like our iPhones and computers, help us maintain the control and distance we've grown to need in our modern lives. So why shouldn’t our hotels be the same way?

Kimber Modern has captured that particular zeitgeist of our generation in a truly inspiring way. Honor technology and progress, apply them to their highest potential, but then place them accordingly in the higher, natural order of things. The unfolding future paying homage to its organic roots. Maybe Kimber Modern is more like a tuning fork than a magnet; in that it brings two sides of our modern day spectrum together to create something that’s truly pitch perfect.