Saturday, February 19, 2011

Creepy and Cool

The Alexandria Hotel is one of the most interesting places I've seen downtown. It houses a new favorite restaurant, The Gorbals, featuring Scottish-Israeli Top Chef chef Ilan Hall (what a title!) in the old hotel kitchen. It's a streamlined space with long wood tables and modern, over-sized flower arrangements, a sweet little bar and food that's out of this world in strangeness, seasonal fresh flavors and presentation. I love it. But The Gorbals isn't the only oddity about the hotel; I'm convinced it's haunted. The hotel converted to affordable loft rentals. And lucky for me, you can wander the halls freely any night. Take the elevator up to the 7th floor just for fun; you step out into an endless hallway devoid of human life (except for the spiritual kind...I'm convinced). Even can hear music and televisions...

On the mezzanine is fascinating "bar" space that was clearly the old hang out in the 30s and 40s. The ceilings are low, ornate, and intricate. The bar is no longer used but you could tell it was well worn. On a Tuesday night, we wandered in to see open mic night and heard some pretty decent jazz and punk. A few residents chipped in a served homemade enchiladas, rice and beans. It was surreal. Behind the new bar (a sad substitute for the real one) is a door. I'm not sure who said to me one time "look for the ballroom" but off we went, in search of this mysterious ballroom. We opened many doors, none of which were locked. Until we reached one that was. And another. And another. The last one gave way a bit, and although still locked, we could see it. The ballroom. It reminded me of a French aristocratic grand hall with a fireplace at one end, windows along the wall, and impressive high ceilings. I took ballet for years and longed to dance in a room like this, practice my bar exercises while staring out onto the streets. When I visited the hotel again several weeks later, the doors were miraculously unlocked, for no apparent reason.

Can you see the ghosts? I sure felt them.

There was another ballroom on the first floor, a space in the lobby with old room key mail boxes no longer in use, and worn out rugs, paint, and a dreary ceiling. Here's a photo that shows how the hotel lobby was once a grand, opulent entryway.

Can't wait to go back...

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