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Historic Union Square Hotel Totally Remade Into Sleek Axiom

Trendy new design makes its way to a 108-year-old hotel

The 108-year-old hotel at 28 Cyril Magnin Street has often been down but never been out, and now it’s reborn once again as an ultra-chic, uber-trendy boutique, remade in the image of New York-based design firm Stonehill & Taylor and dubbed Axiom.

The venerable rooming house immediately adjacent to Hallidie Plaza and the Powell Street cable car opened as the Hotel Turpin in 1908, and was most recently known as the Powell Hotel. It closed for a total overhaul in December 2014 and emerged from its chrysalis this year as a sleek 152-room model with a tech-noir vibe, though the rugged exterior looks much the same.

The new Stonehill & Taylor design emphasizes "cables, lines, and connections," an ode to the nearby cable cars as well as, according to PR speak, an attempt to play on Silicon Valley themes. Not sure what, specifically, the hotel has to do with Silicon Valley, but it is nonetheless a modern twist. The main lobby is divided into various cafe, bar, and lounge spaces, accessible by a passage dubbed by the architects as the "entry tunnel."

"Stonehill & Taylor designed a tunnel split with lines of light that cast dramatic shapes and shadows as guests walk through to enter the hotel," according to the press release. The effect is a little bit freaky.

The lobby also includes a "deconstructed chandelier" and murals by local artists (sadly, no photos were made available). Knowing well enough not to fix what isn’t broken, they kept lobby’s original steel columns.

Upstairs, it looks like many of the 152 rooms are still on the snug side (as one Yelper said of the Powell Hotel, "It’s like they left off a few feet of my room), but gussied up with leather headboards and "uninterrupted powder-blue wall color."

The library features a few historic odds and ends, while the art collection emphasizes "glitching" visuals, trying to marry the building's history to its new identity as a would-be tech hub.

The Yelpers seem happy enough so far. Rooms begin at $235 a night.