Chalkboards are fun, right? Every time I’m around one I want to scribble, doodle and draw something akin to an emoji or my initials.
But,I was good. I controlled my impulses to scratch some sassy typography when I spent the night at the rebirth of a school-turned-hotel called TRYP, accommodations that my teacher/friend Debbie would call “too cool for school.”
The Wyndham property is just north of Pittsburgh and I picked it because of its convenient location to a gig the next day. Oh, and a friend who works for the local ABC-affiliate and covered the ribbon-cutting, thank you, Dawn.
It resides in the dynamic residential area of Lawrenceville just north of downtown dubbed “America’s Coolest Neighborhood”. (The equally cool Cinderlands 3705 brewery and scratch restaurant is only two blocks away)
The century-old shell and older connected structure once served as an elementary school, trade school, vocational school, and most recently an educational center. Rooms that used to teach drafting, bricklaying, masonry, and welding now provide a good nights sleep with an iconic theme.
It was a Sunday evening when I arrived. Valet parking proved too steep for my liking so I parked on the street at no cost. Meters in Pittsburgh are free between 6p-8a.
I pushed my cart full of equipment into the lobby accented with repurposed flooring from the school’s gymnasium. The five-story closed in 2006 until 2017 when transformations converted it a retro-chic 108-room hotel.
Period-preserved details like original school lockers, card catalogs, and a Reading Room dominated my attention while checking in. The desk attendant remarked how the wallpaper in each room was made from hundreds of 1960s yearbook photos of the faces of graduates. A video montage with interviews of those faces played on a loop near the front desk.
Boarding the elevator, the doors chimed with what sounded like school bells. On the third floor, I entered my dorm-sized room overlooking the Allegheny River and 40th St. Bridge. Besides the everpresent chalkboard, other artsy touches included Nip + Fab bath products, custom Aztec blankets and handmade ceramic mugs by local artisans.
Yes, even bunk beds that summon a nostalgic summer camp feel were available but I went with a cozy queen. At sunset, I milked a craft overlooking the Pittsburgh skyline from the rooftop bar and restaurant called Over Eden.
From vocation to vacation, this hotel earned four gold stars on my test.