Death & Co founders launch Midnight Auteur brand

A new boutique hotel is coming Savannah, GA, next year, bringing cocktail-centric hospitality to the South.

Midnight Auteur—a vertically integrated hospitality company created by the founders of Death & Co and The Ramble Hotel in Denver—plans to open the Municipal Grand in early 2025, the company’s first official venture in the luxury boutique hotel space.

“Midnight Auteur as a venture is the evolution of the experience we created in Denver, which, distilled down, is a design-forward, cocktail-anchored hotel, unapologetically catered to locals,” said Ryan Diggins, cofounder/partner/CEO, Midnight Auteur.

Midnight Auteur, a partnership between Diggins, Alex Day and Dave Kaplan (all co-owners of cocktail bar chain Death & Co) has provided the trio a way for them to create more hotels together.

“I owned a real estate development company in Denver, and we focused our efforts on placemaking and on projects that injected positive energy into whatever neighborhood we were in,” Diggins said. “We owned a parcel in the River North Art District in Denver, which was just screaming for a boutique hotel. As a local, and having worked in the neighborhood for years, I decided I didn’t just want to develop a hotel or sell to someone who would build a hotel; I wanted to operate from a strong point-of-view. The idea for The Ramble Hotel was born and bringing Death & Co into the project was the connective tissue that rounded out the vision.”

Hospitality, according to Diggins, is about creating experiences that bring people closer. It’s also the true north for Midnight Auteur, which takes a vertically integrated approach that includes the ownership, development and operation of cocktail-anchored boutique hotels.

“I shy away from the term ‘concept,’ which, to me, implies something inherently over-contrived,” Diggins shared. “We hope to be a place for locals to grab a great cup of coffee, cocktail or meal. Whether you live in Savannah or are traveling from afar, we hope to create a vibrant, celebratory place for people to connect with each other. The less sexy answer is that we also place an incredibly high value on a great night’s sleep. We put a lot of thought in our acoustical engineering between rooms, door sweeps, floor impact ratings and so on. You can’t have the revelry without the respite.”

Located in the former First Federal Savings and Loan Association building—and most recently the Broughton Municipal Building—Municipal Grand will have 44 guestrooms, a lobby bar and restaurant, The Sun Club rooftop pool and subterranean bar across six floors.

“We’re focused on a bar-and restaurant-anchored experience, that just so happens to have hotel rooms above,” Diggins said. “Our aspirational goal is that Savannah brings the main ingredients for the vibe and our hotel guests round it out.”

Because Midnight Auteur is heavily focused on how guests feel when they first arrive, food and beverage options are ideal outlets to make a great first impression.

“Most guests join us after a long day of travel, slightly coiled and on edge—they’re hungry, don’t have their bearings yet and feel like an outsider,” Diggins said. “A great all-day lobby bar provides an opportunity for our guests to immediately connect with the local community or fellow travelers.Rather than the first plate or cocktail at your hotel being a base-level necessity, we hope it sets the tone for your entire trip.”

The hotel’s design also plays a key role in the guest experience. Built as a banking headquarters in the 1960s, the historic space serves as a landmark thanks for its mid-century flair.

“We’re historically preserving a midcentury building into a lighter, airier, slightly curvier version of its former self,” Diggins said. “There are some awesome original features we’re restoring—terrazzo floor, a significant amount of blue and white mosaic tiles covering columns and walls and kitschy old ’60s-era bank relics that add some great personality to Municipal Grand.”

Local architect Lynch Associate Architects and interior design partner AAmp Studio—which collaborated on The Ramble Hotel’s public spaces and Death & Co locations across the U.S.—will reimagine the property.
AAmp Studio restored and preserved a lot of the original ’60s charm, with design inspired by the city’s gardens and its midcentury features like walnut wood paneling and warm metal accents throughout. It’s F&B spaces will feature details inspired by Brazilian and Finnish modernism.

“As they say, constraints bring about creativity, which has certainly held true for us,” Diggins said. “The guest experience will benefit from these constraints, but the operational impacts are tricky to navigate. We don’t have a conventional back-of-house elevator. Our offices are scattered all over the building, and storage is always a concern. The structural engineering for our rooftop pool has been an engineering marvel. Every day, it seems, we uncover some relic from the building’s past that impacts our design, but that’s the beauty in restoring a blighted old building.”

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