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Ceremony for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Hotel BPM

New Hotel Creates Block Rockin’ Beats

written by: on November 8, 2012

Although the economy has been slow to recover since the Great Recession, one of the early positive indicators has been a turnaround in the travel sector, specifically in the hotel industry. Within the hospitality business, a resulting trend is “boutique” hotels with an emphasis on catering to a particular clientele.

At first, music and getting a good night’s sleep might seem to be odd bedfellows. Yet, the largest hotel chain in terms of guest rooms, Holiday Inn, was originally named after the movie musical of the same name from 1942,  starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

Furthermore, The Hard Rock Café, an iconic brand, recently expanded into the hotel sector, with its love of music in tow, offering its guests the chance to select one of 20 Fender guitars to play in their Hard Rock Hotel Chicago rooms. A small amp, and naturally a set of headphones is also provided so guests won’t disturb others who don’t want to rock as hard.

Another, smaller upstart brand, Ace Hotels doesn’t offer iPod docks in their guest rooms. Rather, most suites in this vintage-inspired brand come equipped with a turntable and a carefully curated collection of vinyl records to play.

Now, there’s Hotel BPM. Opened for business this August in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park,  b.p.m. stands for beats per minute, and the hotel was started by someone who knows a great deal about such things. DJ Bijal Panwala, radio host, mix-master, club regular and now, hotelier, is the man behind Hotel BPM.

DJ Bijal in Hotel BPM

When asked what motivated him to open a hotel, DJ Bijal describes his new venture as “another way to expand who I am as a brand, to do something totally different.”  “Totally different” it certainly is, as Brooklyn borough president Marky Markowitz put it at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, “If you don’t want a cookie cutter hotel, then Hotel BPM is for you,” Markowitz said.

Hotel BPM calls itself a “luxury lifestyle brand, focused on music entertainment culture,” offering clientele a “hip modern luxury feel with upgraded amenities & aspects of music lifestyle mixed in.”

The rooms feature custom signature plush Sound Sleeper pillow top beds, designed in part by DJ Bijal himself and come equipped with 300 thread-count Frette Linens. Additionally, rooms include Keurig coffee makers and free Internet access available via Wi-Fi and Ethernet ports.  Bathrooms are outfitted with high end porcelain tiles, glass enclosed rain drop showers,  plush towels from Frette and a steam-proof frame lighted mirror.

One of the rooms in Hotel BPM

But why did DJ Bijal want to open a hotel in particular?  As a DJ, he’s traveled extensively, and realized he wanted his guest rooms a certain way in terms of the layout and the amenities provided, so Bijal’s design input was used for not only the custom beds, but almost everything in this 76-room boutique property.  For example, as part of his travels, he historically had to haul around crates of records, often becoming frustrated with the lack of storage space in guest rooms. Hence his decision to install hanging night stands next to the beds in Hotel BPM to create more storage space.

Bijal also experienced frustration using the bathroom mirror to prepare himself for nights full of performing or clubbing. He noticed that the only full-length mirror typically available was in the bathroom, causing couples to compete for mirror space when finalizing their evening attire. With the design of Hotel BPM, Bijal solved this issue by providing another full-length mirror in the bedroom area of each guest room.

DJ Bijal may have overseen every aspect of the hotel’s design (even down to hand selecting the items in the mini-bars), but it all begins and ends with the music.

He hosts his weekly radio show live in the lobby and features guest DJs regularly, including 92.3 FM Now’s DJ David S, DJ Kalkutta, DJ Billy Gotit and DJ Lexx. When there isn’t a live DJ spinning in the lobby, Bijal manages the playlist programming. The music changes throughout the day, with breakfast time featuring more lounge-type music, and the beats per minute accelerating until the most “high energy” music is spinning at night. Only the hallways of the hotel are a music-free zone, not that it would matter, since all of the rooms are sound-proofed, so guests can’t hear the music from the lobby or coming from other rooms.

Additionally, when making reservations, guests can even request a particular song be played in the lobby upon check-in. Once settled into their room, guests have the option to pipe the music playing in the lobby into their room (and each bathroom has its own speaker), to select a particular playlist or radio setting or to dock their iPod and play their own music. But when it’s time to turn in, the sound-proofing is designed to ensure each guest gets a good night’s (or morning’s) sleep.

Bijal didn’t offer how frequently late check-outs are requested, but it’s easy to imagine, given the nocturnal nature that’s part of the “club culture,” that request may come up with some regularity. It’s also nice that the hotel offers 24 hour room service, in addition to a complimentary hot breakfast (if guests are up that early, or still up, perhaps). He encourages his employees to engage with the guests informally, hopefully leading to high-fives all around. He says he wants every guest “to feel like a superstar,” but conversely DJ Bijal does not want his hotel to be stuffy or his employees to be snooty.

This friendliness extends to the hotel’s 24 hour concierge, underscoring the Hotel BPM official trademarked slogan, “Where Music Meets Hospitality.”

Although only a few months old, DJ Bijal is quite pleased with the hotel’s occupancy at this point, indicating that the “soft opening,” which included hosting a DJ convention on a weekend, was wildly successful, and they are sold out on most weekends.

When asked what’s next for him, DJ Bijal says he’ll continue doing what he’s doing as a DJ, radio host and as the guiding force behind Hotel BPM in Brooklyn, and he may even expand the brand into other markets. He’s thought of bringing the concept to club-centric destinations like Ibiza, and maybe even Dallas, indicating he might consider Chicago as well.

Since the interview, Superstorm Sandy struck much of the North-East and Mid-Atlantic, with New York and New Jersey bearing the brunt of the impact, and DJ Bijal provided the following statement in response to a follow-up inquiry: “Fortunately, Hotel BPM was lucky enough to avoid many challenges, such as flooding, that other businesses encountered. We are very lucky to have not been affected in a tremendous way and are open for business as usual. Our thoughts go out to everyone that has been affected and we hope for a speedy recovery.”

The staff is doing their best to house guests from nearby hotels that suffered extensive damage, and the hotel waived all cancellation fees to guests that were not able to get to the hotel as a result of the storm.

Hotel BPM Brooklyn New York is located at 139 33rd Street, Brooklyn, New York 11232, Phone: 718-305-4182, Fax: 718-305-4184, Subway Line: D,N,R to 36th Street.  www.hotelbpmbrooklyn.com

Hotel BPM's lounge