A New Boutique Hotel Is Coming to Salem This Summer

The Hotel Salem will open inside of the former Newmark's department store.

hotel salem

The Hotel Salem’s Lark Suite pop-up on Newbury Street / Photo by Susannah Bothe

A New Englander’s autumn to-do list is simply not complete without a trip to Salem. Thousands of visitors descend upon the port city each fall to revisit its witchcraft history. But this summer, a new hotel will hearken back to the town’s retail roots.

“We feel like Salem is becoming known for a destination outside of its witch heritage,” says Dawn Hagin, chief inspiration officer at Lark Hotels. “(It) really still has room for something unique.”

Lark Hotels, which operates quirky boutique hotels like Summercamp in Martha’s Vineyard and the country lodge Field Guide in Stowe, Vermont, opened an 11-room inn called The Merchant in Salem in late 2015. Come summertime, the hotel group will open its second Salem lodging, dubbed The Hotel Salem.

Located in the former Newmark’s department store on the Essex Street pedestrian mall, The Hotel Salem will be an all-seasons destination inspired by the New England department stores of yesteryear. By mixing midcentury modern design with funky details from stores in the ’50s and ’60s, the hotel pays homage to the last gasp of the downtown department store—before the days of strip malls and big-box chains.

When Hagin first set foot in the former department store in Salem, she knew the hotel would need to stay true to the building’s origin. As chief inspiration officer at Lark, Hagin helps to create the brands for each Lark Hotels property, using the “bones of buildings” as inspiration.

“(Newmark’s) had that feeling of an old-time, beautiful store where people came in and saw their dreams in these cabinets,” she says.

To revive that feeling and give it a unique twist, Lark Hotels’ director of design, Rachel Reider, dreamed up The Hotel Salem’s retro-inspired atmosphere. In addition to plenty of midcentury-style furniture, the art in the hotel will feature photographs and prints depicting anchor stores once found in downtown areas around New England.

The Hotel Salem will also have two restaurants, one on the first floor and one on the rooftop, as well an event space in the basement with a shuffleboard. The hotel’s 44 rooms range from micro-rooms to king-sized suites, aiming to satisfy a range of price points.

Hagin adds Salem’s accessibility and architectural history give the destination a year-round appeal.

“A lot of New England towns, or towns across America, don’t have pedestrian walking malls anymore,” says Hagin. “And the fact that it still exists in Salem, and this anchor store that used to be there—which was the heart of that—could be embraced and brought out today with what we are doing with the Hotel Salem—it is very exciting to us.”