Hollywood, the South Florida town smack-dab between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, has adopted a new identity in recent years as a touch point for the area's arts and culture scene. In 2007, the city dedicated the ArtsPark at Young Circle, located in a 10-acre area named after the city's founder, Joseph Wesley Young, at U.S. Route 1 and Hollywood Boulevard.
Last year, the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project debuted as a collection of curated outdoor murals by both local, national and internationally recognized artists like Tatiana Suarez, Evoca1, Rone, the London Police, Jessy Nite, Ernesto Maranje, Logan Hicks and Kenny Scharf.
Downtown Hollywood is where most of the arts action takes place, and the Circ Hotel, named for the Hollywood Circle, the downtown's central roundabout on which it is situated, has designated itself the area's "art-centric hotel."
The building is divided into two towers, one housing the residences and the other the hotel, which comprises 111 guestrooms. I recently visited as a guest of the hotel and was impressed by the comfortable rooms and the hotel's convenient location next to the ArtsPark and walking distance to Hollywood's adorable and historical downtown.
The room I stayed in is part of the growing number of Art Suites at the Circ. Muralists from around the country are commissioned to paint the walls of the suites in themes that reflect their hometown. So far, there are two: Luis Valle from Hollywood and Christin Atkinson from Austin, Texas. I stayed in the room with Atkinson's mural, which depicts the bluebells of Texas, the state capitol building, the neon signs of Congress Avenue and, of course, Willie Nelson.
The 650-square foot suite comprised a full kitchen (although it is unappointed, so BYOF -- bring your own forks), sitting area, dining space, bedroom, bathroom and sumptuous wrap-around balcony looking out over downtown's skyline. It wasn't without its faults, though. Housekeeping could have paid a little better attention to the kitchen sink and the shower, a prominent magenta stain besmirched the lovely blue bedroom rug and some of the furniture shows signs of wear beyond its actual age. But the bed was another story. Rarely do I sleep in a hotel bed that's more comfortable than my own, but this one was one of those exceptions.
The hotel's signature on-site restaurant, Olivia, serves as an in-room dining hub as well as a swanky three-meal hotspot. I missed dinner, thanks to an overindulgent lunch, but enjoyed breakfast, where I atoned for the previous day with a satisfying-but-virtuous acai bowl with granola, mixed berries, coconut and local honey.
For another dining option, guests can visit the Italian bar and restaurant, Muse, on the rooftop, alongside the pool, which serves light bites and cocktails from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It's an excellent spot to take in the sunset and watch the city lights come up.
Hollywood's lodging options are still sparse, even though the area has seen several hotel openings recently, including the grand opening of the stunning guitar-shaped tower at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, which captivates drivers' attention on the Florida Turnpike. But for the comforts of home close to the city's cultural center, the Circ Hotel is a good bet.