Jim Abdo, CEO of Abdo Development, has created something very, very special: D.C.'s first Micro-hotel Hotel Hive. Through smart, efficient design and emphasizing on a 'less is more' way of thinking, one-year-old Hotel Hive has snagged a number of awards, including TripAdvisor's '2017 Best Value Hotel in America.' The rooms at the Hive range in 125-250 square feet, but the brand itself is looking towards great expansion.

We chatted with Hotel Hive visionary Jim Abdo about the importance of local partnership, challenges of adaptive reuse and some of his must-visit spots in Washington D.C. Want more? Come see Jim speak at our INDIE Confab in D.C. April 17!

Where did the inspiration for Hotel Hive come from?

The inspiration came from what I have been witnessing in our new “social economy”.  The concept of sharing and “less is more” is not just a trend, it is a new smart reality.  Real estate and hospitality need to embrace these concepts and re-think traditional approaches.  Hotel Hive does just that.  Through smart design and quality programing, we have created a value proposition that exceeds expectations.

Hotel Hive partnered with &Pizza on the F+B side. While you and &Pizza CEO Michael Lastoria will take a deep dive into how that partnership formed at the INDIE Confab, can you give us a sneak peek? 

I needed the right food and beverage concept to dovetail with our simple and unique approach to hospitality.  The first time I experienced &pizza (which was within the first 90 days of them opening their first location) I knew it was the perfect concept to merge with my vision for Hotel Hive.  Wow, was I right.  Michael Lastoria and his exceptional company share many of the same ideals and principles that we do.  It is an honor to grow our brands together.

You've also pulled other local partnerships into the mix. Each level of the elevator shaft features a mural from different D.C. artists. How else do you serve and partner with locals?

My commitment has been longstanding  within the local art community.  We try to incorporate local artists in many of the development projects we do.  In this case we worked (again) with a local non-profit call CulturalDC to bring artists into the building.  As a confirmed claustrophobic, I purposely made my elevator cab all glass to make it feel bigger.  The result was seeing the interior of the shaft.  Why not turn it into art?  We did.

Beyond art, Michael Lastoria and the &pizza team pushed hard for all of our local spirits served at the Hive Bar and rooftop bar to be locally sourced.  I was a bit skeptical at first, but Michael was right.  The products are all excellent and every guest really gets a “taste” of DC while at Hotel Hive.

Hotel Hive was named best value hotel in America by TripAdvisor in 2017. Can you talk about how the use of space, culture and design helped snag that title? 

I think we earned this incredibly important title because of the people that operate Hotel Hive on a daily basis.  We have an incredible hotel manager in Sophie Penichet who has helped us curate a team that understands our Hotel Hive philosophy at every level.  We care about the guest experience in every facet of what we do.  When you combine this culture with our unique modern industrial design and efficient use of space, I feel Trip Advisor made the right choice!

When we walked through Hotel Hive with you, it was clear eco-friendly methods were heavily incorporated into the design, build and operation of the hotel. Can you speak on some of those?  

Each room, or Hive, is smart.  It knows to control and conserve energy when you are gone but makes sure you are comfortable and at temperature settings you choose while you are there.  Even though we occupy a 116 year old historic structure, every system is modern and energy efficient.  The list is long on what we have done regarding energy efficiency.  Beyond that we have many other ways to go green including pumped lotions, soaps and shampoo stations in every room that eliminate the waste of small bottles and much more.

You’re also a huge believer in adaptive reuse. What are some of the benefits and challenges that have come with any of your adaptive reuse projects? How did you overcome those challenges? 

Anyone who has engaged in the adaptive re-use of a historic structure can tell you that it can be like brain surgery at times.  Unknowns exist almost every day as you peel back the layers of the onion.  Fortunately, my company has over 25 years of experience in doing this as we have developed and converted historic vacant schools, monasteries, warehouses and more into luxury residences throughout Washington, DC.  While the challenges are many, the benefits are worth it.  There is no substitute for true historic fabric.  We embrace this every chance we get and our efforts are fully on display at Hotel Hive.

Since the focus of our INDIE Confab is centered around (and held in) D.C., let’s get some of your city must-sees.

  • Favorite place to eat?  Chloe and Red Hen.  Both are outstanding restaurants in emerging neighborhoods in DC.
  • Favorite neighborhood?  I love the direction Brookland is going.  It was overlooked for so long and was a hidden gem just sitting there before us all.
  • Favorite local shop?  I love August George.  Unique and eclectic home store with antiques located in Washington, VA about 75 miles from DC.  Worth the drive to a charming historic town…but available to shop online.
  • Favorite music venue?  Wolf Trap
  • Favorite museum? I never get tired of the Phillips Collection
  • If there was one word you could use to describe D.C.’s hospitality scene, what would it be?  First word, EVOLVING.  Second word, FAST.

Finally, what’s next for the Hotel Hive brand?

Growth.  We took our time to refine and execute this concept.  From the beginning I approached Hotel Hive with the intention of scaling the model.  That is what we are embarking on now.  I am signing deals in other cities right now and we have several more cities on our radar screen.  Hotel Hive is trademarked nationally and internationally.  Our logo is trademarked and has won a national design award.  Even our tag line is trademarked.  Hotel Hive…Buzz More.  Spend Less.