YOWIE Is a Design Catalog in the Form of a Cozy, Colorful Hotel

If the 13-room YOWIE hotel was a person, the vibrantly decorated Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, boutique hotel would be your multi-talented friend. They always seem to be confidently wearing the coolest and most colorful fits while doing a little bit of this with a little bit of that exuding the same welcoming, attainable, and most importantly, fun attitude across the board.

YOWIE hotel shop and lobby with yellow counter display and black cone pendant lamp overhead

YOWIE hotel lobby and shop

Launched by designer Shannon Maldonado as the hospitality arm of a trio of destinations that include YOWIE shop and WIM cafe – both located around the corner along Philadelphia’s South Street neighborhood – YOWIE first emerged as “The Coolest Shop in Philadelphia” (as proclaimed by Bon Appétit in 2019). The brand has since evolved into a hotel, officially opening last summer in conjunction with an updated and expanded storefront alongside the cafe.

Exterior of the YOWIE hotel in Philadelphia with man in shorts walking by. Yellow signage out front pointing toward hotel entrance, with yellow cafe seating nearby.

YOWIE today invites guests to partake in Ms. Maldonado’s colorfully curated collections of contemporary art, design, and crafts. Pieces are sourced from friends, independent artists, and well-known designers into something akin to a Pinterest board or your favorite IG design feed brought to life. Imagined by Maldonado in collaboration with architects Canno Design and S2 Design, each of the hotel’s rooms are decorated with bold, graphic patterns, mixing vintage and contemporary pieces in a manner that seems aspirational in their attainable simplicity.

Violet painted wall bedroom inside the YOWIE hotel, with small circular wood side table and blue lamp, and red-orange wall panels placed above the bed.

The Philadelphia native not only wanted to establish a nexus where guests could enjoy a place to shop, eat, and sleep while staying within the city of Brotherly Love. Visitors can also experience “different neighborhoods and cultural spaces across the city” previously not listed as a design destination.

Green mosaic tile bathroom with blue ceramic soap dispenser and pink Shelfology shelf underneath a bathroom mirror.

Mosaic-tiled bathrooms of varying color add to each of the rooms’ unique character and are accessorized with bubbly fun ceramic soap dispensers sourced from Philadelphia’s Cloud 9 Clay.

The notion of attainability also plays prominently as a unique element of the YOWIE guest experience – nearly everything within each of the hotel’s rooms is shoppable, including the glassware designed by Sophie Lou Jacobsen, shades by Elisa Johnson, and original works by Clyde Henry. Brands such as Blu Dot, HAY, and Shelfology furnish the rooms playfully, with older elements like the “chubby vintage sofa” in the Suite 301 One Bedroom King, interspersed to keep the feeling this side of “staying at a design-loving friend’s flat” rather than a traditional hotel.

Detail shot of wall hung pendant light over small blue side table, alongside blue seating and modern bent metal side table inside the rooms of the YOWIE hotel.

YOWIE hotel small kitchenette with long red standing dining/kitchen island with red countertop.

The local vibes include one-of-a-kind artwork adorning many of the walls, all sourced from Philly artists. Most of the hotel’s suites are also equipped with small kitchens and cookware by Caraway Home to invite the option to dine in during a guest’s stay (or enjoy leftovers as snacks), furthering the home-away-from home experience.

YOWIE hotel living space with sofa and long dining table with four dining chairs, pendant lamp overhead, wood floors underneath and two pane windows at the far wall.

Maldonado says hospitality was always a realm she envisioned for the YOWIE brand to venture into. Originally the multihyphenate creative imagined realizing these plans as a pop-up shop within another existing hotel. But in the process of planning, Maldonado turned the idea of adding a piece into creating her own puzzle. Today, YOWIE anchors a section of Philadelphia as a nexus of local design, allowing guests and locals alike to experience the city’s creative culture firsthand… and maybe even return home with a piece of its history.

Side by side interior phptps of a YOWIE hotel room's blue tiled bathroom and small window-side seating space with two wood chairs and bright yellow table.

What: YOWIE Hotel
Where: 226 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
How much: From $140 per night for 2 guests
Design draw: The Center for Architecture and Design is within walking distance (or 12 minute taxi ride), and hosts the annual DesignPhiladelphia Festival. The Fabric Workshop Museum also nearby within the city center, with tours and hands-on workshops hosted regularly. The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rodin Museum are further out, but require only a reasonable 15-minute taxi ride.
Book it: YOWIE Hotel

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Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.

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