Thursday, March 1, 2012

Diamonds in the Desert -- Part 4 -- The Whitney

Let me tell you about hotel websites that advertise "continental breakfast" -- don't believe them! Do not think they will have scrumptious pastries that will look like these sweet confections!

It was Sunday, on our Detroit trip, and at the St. Regis, we went downstairs, hungry for breakfast -- only to find cold, tiny bagels-from-a-bag (with no toaster), one muffin, a few faux-Danish pastries from a box (and cold), little boxes of cereal and only one carton of milk, watered down OJ and no tea.

We made the best of it, headed to the DIA for more art and then had brunch at the Whitney.

Going to the Whitney is a big deal. It's a converted historical mansion on Woodward Ave. in Detroit. It was the home of lumber baron David Whitney, built 1890-94. Construction of the 32-room home (with 218 windows, 20 fireplaces, a secret vault in the dining room and an elevator) was $400,000. Built with South Dakota Jasper (a pink granite), it has a soft, rosy hue.

We walked in on a cold, sunny morning, finding warmth in the "walk-in" fireplace in the great hall.

Having come off a recent Downton Abbey binge, I felt as close to Abbey-like here as I ever have!

The Tiffany windows made for a glorious photo backdrop!

From the minute you enter, you feel special. The fireplace in the hall had a roaring fire; a massive staircase went up two flights.

There were places to pause or wait for your table -- comfy furniture in the upper hall and tiny drawing rooms.

And, there were numerous private dining areas as well.

The chandeliers were beautiful -- David Whitney's buddy did the original "electrification." His name was Thomas Edison.

I was impressed with the woodwork and elegant art nouveau ironwork -- it was spectacular.

And when you came down the central staircase, you felt as though you had "arrived."It was my "Lady Grantham" moment.

We were on the main floor in a cozy corner. The never-ending mimosas began as soon as we were seated!

Our room was bright, facing the street. This photo was taken as we were about the last to leave; it was full when we arrived.

There were lovely touches -- a beautiful fireplace with a golden clock.

Rick and I couldn't resist!

This adjacent dining room was lovely too, with a cozier feel.

The Whitney isn't like going to Denny's! The brunch was delicious -- perfectly prepared food with some interesting things that I love -- salmon, shrimp and grits, and crepes, along with the usual breakfast fare.

And of course, the dessert and pastry table was to die for!

Of course, before I left, I had to hit the bathroom. And of course, I was impressed! Definitely not your put-it-together-yourself bathroom etagiere from Target!

After the Whitney family sold the house in the 1920s, it became the Wayne County Medical Society, then the Visiting Nurses Association. (Imagine going to work here!). The property was purchased privately in 1980 by David Kughn, who converted it into "An American Restaurant in an American Palace." It is currently owned by Bud Liebler, a man with a mission to refresh and revitalize the property and keep it functioning as a Detroit icon for generations to come.

Ah, farewell, Whitney. We won't be able to afford you for a long while, but it was fabulous while it lasted, and a wonderful way to end our Detroit weekend!

One more post on Detroit -- coming soon -- about the Diego Rivera mural! And for some eye candy illustrations related to a good fairy tale (or twenty!) AND for a look at Madresfield, a book about the manor house that inspired "Brideshead Revisited," check out Chopsticks and String.


  1. This looks lovely! I so enjoy your posts!

  2. I love how you chronicle your trip, and feature the best of Detroit.

  3. OH my goodness.... what fabulous photos! Lucky you to see such beauty in person :-)

  4. Wow - that's a way to end a trip. the first little goodies reminded me of muppets for some reason - I think it the blueberries.

    So glad that you had a wonderful time!


  5. Hallo, Lady Grantham! ;o) LOVING your stops along the way in Detroit posts, Jeanie! So lovely to see you there, happily beaming in front of the gorgeous stained glass. And I'm loving all the Downton Abbey affect too--*swoon*... Glad you did get your pastries. Nothing worse than a hotel that says they give breakfast, but don't. :o/ Cold cereal is not breakfast while away, in my opinion...LOL! Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

  6. What a beautiful place. I'm a big Downton Abbey fan too. Easy to see why you compared the two. Glad you had such a good time.

  7. Just like Pat, I'm a big Downton Abbey fan and this was a good fix for you. A stunning mansion to tour. I love the the welcoming fire in the fireplace and the staircase is stunning. A love old home, I would love to see this too. Your trip sound like a great getaway. Love you blog, I'll be your newest follower. So happy to meet you

    The French Hutch

  8. What a fun place to visit and have brunch! I love it when the older homes are regenerated as restaurants. It makes for lovely ambiance!

  9. Yes, very interesting photos of this fascinating and beautiful place.

  10. Happy Pink Saturday,

    Thanks for visiting me.

    The building and rooms are so beautiful. What a grand place.


  11. Jeanie, Looks like you had such a wonderful day! What a fabulous place for brunch. And, I keep waiting for that Diego Rivera post! ~Marti

  12. Yay! I love this little trip on which you've taken us, 'specially enjoy the picture of you and Rick in the mirror! and the whole Whitney.
    Now, may I please have a luscious pastry? (No, gave them up for Lent. sigh.)
    Ah, it's good to be here in Blogworld and find your stories. Love the new look (tho' you may have had it for awhile.)
    I have sworn not to touch a lick of work today (saturday) and may even be able to skip it tomorrow, too! New job is good, very demanding, and I realize rather suddenly that I really haven't written a thing! Must work on that.
    Hugs to you and R...and of course, Gypsy

  13. Loved your commentary, especially that little bit about Edison. How fun! Glad you had such a fabulous brunch and tour. That place is amazing!

  14. Be still my beating heart! Oh my. Sign me up for the Whitney!!

  15. oh the places you go!
    beautiful photos (you look stunning:))
    and again,
    I get to visit some place
    because of you:)
    thanks and bright peace,

  16. Oh, I love visiting places like this! That chandelier is to die for - gorgeous!! Your photos are beautiful. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my birdhouses! I see you're also a cat lover! I'm your newest follower!
    Hugs, Cindy

  17. Wow this was really interesting. The only images we see of Detroit over here are of burned out neighbourhoods and junkies. I'm glad there are beautiful and gracious places and the Whitney house looks SO wonderful! (so do the cakes)
    That sounds like the worst hotel breakfast ever. Remind me not to go to the St. Regis if I am ever around there. A nice breakfast (doesn't have to be large, but needs to be nice) makes all the difference.

  18. One down, three to go. The Whitney is absolutely enchanting.

  19. That looks like a very grand place. Sounds like you have a wonderful vacation. Thanks for stopping by my blog this weekend!

  20. I need to get there! Sounds expensive, but worth at least one visit.

  21. Gorgeous! What a treat to visit here for brunch. This is a treasured memory and though you won't often visit, you will always remember the time you sat and enjoyed this special meal.

  22. My Grandmother was Mr kughn's innkeeper for many years,and as a child I was lucky to spend many nights there.was you able to see the grand dinning room ? There is a walk in safe behind tha great wall.just a push of a button. My Grandmothers name is Glayd's Watkins Allen ..


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