Travel | September 26, 2016 9:00 am

West Elm Is Launching a Hotel Chain Where You Can Test-Drive All Their Stuff

Why hasn't this always been how furniture-buying works?

West Elm’s the brand that makes sofas (and tables, dressers and lighting fixutres) that everyone likes precisely enough to begrudgingly cart home from the mall without ever truly loving them. Conjure an image of “sofa my girlfriend and I are equally unoffended by,” and chances are you’re looking at the Peggy Mid-Century, which was definitely* (*unconfirmed) named for AMC’s favorite copywriter.

Sometimes good enough is exactly what you need.  But “good enough” doesn’t exactly set a marketplace on fire.

And so, in a bid to up the brand’s cool quotient — and provide its guests with a fully shoppable experience, from bathroom rug to guest room mirror — West Elm announced today that it will in 2018 debut a mini-collection of hotels in cities including Detroit, Minneapolis, Savannah, Charlotte and Indianapolis.

It’s not a coincidence that outside of Savannah, none of these cities currently offer, let’s say, an innovative boutique hotel scene. Expect a rate of $175 for a standard room, and up to around $400 for a suite.

In a press release, the Brooklyn-based retailer (and wing of Williams-Sonoma) said each hotel would “feature local design elements that celebrate community and reflect traditional décor, handicraft, cuisine, and culture from the region.” This, in fact, is probably true: West Elm has admirably developed a long-standing array of collaborations with design superstars-in-the-making as well as international artisans and overseas NGOs. We’d bet money that the Savannah location will feature the work of SCAD students and that Detroit’s rich design scene will be well reflected in spaces public and private. 

Here’s the simple truth behind why this is a great idea: we may bemoan the brand’s ultra-vanilla aesthetic, but they make pieces we can live with at a non-extortionate price. And if you’ve ever wondered how you’d actually feel about living with the Peggy — no small question for someone flip-flopping on whether to make the investment — well, we’re betting two days in the West Elm Indianapolis will amply answer the question.