Our editors' picks for the best in hospitality, retail & more
We scoured the popular hospitality website for some of the most interesting offerings in Columbus. Here's what we found.
George Bellows Slept Here
Find inspiration in this studio apartment located in an Olde Towne East home where the famous Columbus-born artist once lived. Cool feature: The current owners are artists, too. $100 per night. airbnb.com/rooms/591101
Rainbow-colored Tiny House
Give “urban camping” a try in this colorful, no-frills Clintonville backyard bungalow near the Olentangy bike path. Cool feature: made from upcycled materials. $40 per night. airbnb.com/rooms/5859019
Rock out in this 1,200-square-foot University District space designed for touring bands. Cool feature: comes equipped with a full backline audio system. $120 per night. airbnb.com/rooms/12288107
Ray Ray's House
Experience country living in this Granville farmhouse owned by barbecue master James Anderson of Ray Ray's Hog Pit fame. Cool feature: includes a breakfast of bacon, homemade biscuits and orange marmalade. $140 per night. airbnb.com/rooms/17918326
A Night at the Circus
Stay in the carriage house of the famous “Circus House”—the ornate Frank Packard-designed home built by Peter Sells, one of the four brothers who created the Columbus-based Sells Brothers Circus in the late 19th century. Cool feature: The third floor of the main house will soon be available on Airbnb, too, says Wes Wolfe, the owner of the home along Goodale Park. airbnb.com/rooms/17432073
Among the world's scary things that go bump in the night, Kelly Collins has contributed more than most. The Lewis Center resident, co-owner of the Northland-area Scareatorium and founder of the Midwest Haunters Convention, was awarded the top honor by the Haunted Attraction Association at the Transworld Halloween & Attractions show in St. Louis in March.
Store for Frisbee Fanatics
Just as traditional golfers require bags full of clubs, disc-throwing duffers also need the right mix of tools to maximize their skills. In Central Ohio, Disc Golf Mart—with locations in Upper Arlington and Pickerington—serves as the pro shop for this new breed of athlete. Each store has more than 2,000 flying discs on display, plus accessories such as bags and pull carts.
The high-end retail scene continues to flourish right in our own backyard as prominent brands find a home at Easton Town Center. Newcomers to the coveted shopping destination include Spanish clothing and accessory retailer Zara, Mac Cosmetics and Lilly Pulitzer, all slated to open stores this summer and fall. Outdoor outfitter Filson and lifestyle brand Shinola will also add to the mix, each giving shoppers a fresh experience at Easton.
Innovation is all in the family for OSU grad Heather Shuster and her sister Holly, who sought a more durable, earth-friendly solution to the poorly made, over-priced flip-flops on the market. Turning to natural rubber, the pair launched Olli, partnering with audited plantations and a fair-trade manufacturing facility in Sri Lanka to produce a line of high-quality men's and women's flip-flops. This alternative green method is surely a step in the right direction for casual footwear.
Place to Buy a Buffalo
Short North window-shoppers may have briefly noticed a rare find at Grandview Mercantile: a full-size, stuffed buffalo watching over High Street. The piece was purchased by regular customers who were redoing their cabin, says a store manager—for a smooth $2,400. If you missed it, the antique treasure trove currently offers a taxidermic musk ox (pictured) as well as heads of a ram, elk, caribou and bear—as of press time at least. Hurry in, though; the business will soon move near Grandview to make way for redevelopment by the Pizzuti Cos.
Tucked into the Shops on Capitol Square—the tiny shopping center attached to the Sheraton hotel between the Statehouse and Columbus Commons—is artisan boutique State and Third. Here you'll find décor, jewelry, housewares, clothing and more from local and national artists. Owner (and shop artist) Becky Brisker grew up in Columbus, worked at City Center mall and attended the Columbus College of Art and Design, so when she decided to open her own shop, settling on a location wasn't difficult. The 80-odd artists whose work is featured in the shop are largely local. “I probably get between 10 and 20 deliveries a week of new product,” Brisker says.
Store We're Going to Miss (Boutique Edition)
Leather messenger bags, Sharpies in every imaginable color, stationery, wallets, special edition Star Wars ballpoint pens, beard oil. We could spend hours geeking out in Robert Mason Co.'s hip Brickel Street gift shop. Owner Robert Grimmet built the Robert Mason brand in his parents' basement when he was just 12 years old. He opened his first Columbus shop as a pop-up on Gay Street in 2013. The next year a fire destroyed the building, but Grimmet was able to reopen his flagship store in 2015 in the Short North. That store (and the online equivalent) recently succumbed to debt left over from the 2014 fire. Grimmet closed up shop in May, but we expect we'll hear from him again.
Store We're Going to Miss (Big-Box Edition)
The Andersons called itself a general store and somehow managed to pull it off despite its big-box footprint. It boasted service-forward home improvements, a wonderful gardening center, some of the best produce to be found, a market-style meat counter, incredible beer and wine selections, appliances, clothing—you name it. Perhaps all things to all people was too big of an ask. The Toledo-based retailer, which included two Columbus stores, closed its doors for good in June.
Reasons to Get Some Sleep
You expect a hotel to prepare your bed linen for a good night's rest. But a constellation on the ceiling? That's something new. Here are a few unusual wrinkles to the traditional turndown service offered by two Downtown area hotels and one guest house.
The Short North boutique hotel offers the traditional chocolate on the pillowcase—but with a more personal touch. Each sweet bears the image of Frenchie the bulldog, the hotel's mascot. If guests pay $30 extra for the romance package, hotel employees also will decorate the bed with rose petals in the shape of a heart.
Victorian Village Guest House
The owners of the 1,000-square-foot guest suite—located in a carriage house behind a grand Neil Avenue Victorian—offer a turndown service for honeymooners, including flowers, Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Though they don't automatically offer turndown services for all guests, the owners welcome special requests. For instance, they had a cake made in the shape of a camera for a guest who recently retired and was looking forward to spending more time exploring his hobby of photography, says owner Lisa Craig Morton.
When the hotel in the LeVeque Tower opened earlier this year, the operators knew they had to do something different to match the iconic art deco setting. Their idea? A “celestial turndown.” Every guest room comes equipped with a little projector—built by a German company—that displays a constellation of stars on the ceiling. The amenity matches the celestial theme found throughout the building, which is decorated with half moons and stars. “The whole purpose is to fall asleep under the stars,” says Michael Shannon, Hotel LeVeque's director of sales and marketing.
Face Off: Morse Road Melting Pots
These global markets have given new life to abandoned big-box stores on Morse Road as the retail corridor has transformed into Columbus' most international shopping district. How do they stack up?
La Michoacana Mexican Market
Former Life: Sun TV store
Origins: The flagship of a chain of nine Mexican groceries founded in Columbus in 2001 by Mexican immigrant Liborio Alcauter
Size: 16,000 square feet
Trademark: About 100 piñatas in all shapes, sizes and colors hang from the ceiling.
Surprising Feature: When the store opened, nearly all of its customers were Mexican, says Fernando Alcauter, Liborio's son. Now, about half come from other nations.
Unusual Produce: Two types of cactuses—one popular for grilling and the other used in soups
Challenge: Founder Liborio Alcauter was sentenced in 2016
to 5.5 years in prison for failing to withhold employment taxes and knowingly hiring undocumented workers. His son Fernando now runs the business.
Next Step: Continue growing international reach—the store has hired Arab and Nepali employees and is looking to add a Somali, too, says Fernando Alcauter.
Saraga International grocery
Former Life: Toys R Us
Origins: Korean immigrant brothers John and Bong Hung founded Saraga, which means “living” in Korean, in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1994.
Size: 41,000 square feet
Trademark: A seafood department with a tank filled with live fish, including carp, tilapia and catfish
Surprising Feature: About 10 additional tenants, including a gold store, a halal butcher's shop, an eyebrow-threading salon and acclaimed Nepali dumpling stand Momo Ghar
Unusual Produce: 17 types of sweet potatoes and yams from all over the world on a recent spring day
Challenge: An ownership change in 2014 gave the Columbus store a fresh start after health violations nearly closed it.
Next Step: A second Columbus Saraga location is in the works for a former Kohl's store at 2800 S. Hamilton Road on the East Side.