Forget Snapchat filters, Pittsburgh’s Hotel Monaco wants you to send a postcard

Three local artists created the custom-designed postcards, encouraging handwritten notes.

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Courtesy of Hotel Monaco
Rossilynne Culgan

From a tiny writing desk Downtown, handwritten tales of Pittsburgh adventure are being sent across the globe.

A new writing station at Kimpton Hotel Monaco offers tourists and locals alike the chance to pick up a postcard designed by a Pittsburgh artist and pen a message to send near or far. Located in the boutique hotel’s living room just up the stairs from the lobby, the writing nook is outfitted with a green-and-blue plaid chair, a miniature post office box, plenty of pens and stacks of custom-designed postcards.

“When we welcome guests here, we’ll do a handwritten note, and this is just an extension of that,” Hotel Monaco General Manager Rob Mallinger said. “It takes so much more intention and thought and personality in writing these postcards rather than sending your friend a text message saying, ‘I’m in Pittsburgh.’”

The hotel selected three Pittsburgh artists and gave them little instruction other than to create a postcard featuring some element of the hotel. Each artist spent time exploring the hotel’s whimsical space designed to stir feelings of visiting a world traveler’s home.

A postcard by Tate Hudson depicts a bright rendering of the building’s exterior on a busy day.

Courtesy of Hotel Monaco
Paul Gelsobello / Courtesy of Hotel Monaco

A watercolor work by Jen Joyce captures the hotel’s iconic floral chandelier hanging over the lobby.

Courtesy of Hotel Monaco
Paul Gelsobello / Courtesy of Hotel Monaco

And the black-and-white piece by Kirsten Lowe-Rebel showcases the hotel’s quirky collection of bird cages near its living room.

Courtesy of Hotel Monaco
Cris Molina / Courtesy of Hotel Monaco

Artist Kirsten Lowe-Rebel of KLoRebel Art in Lawrenceville uses Sharpies as the medium for her monochromatic designs. She often draws architecture pieces or house portraits, so she said the bird houses were a natural for her.

“Pittsburgh just keeps getting better and better,” she said. “What I love is that we have a little representation of specifically the Downtown corner of the world with the hotel going out so people can get a little taste of what’s going on here.”

Since the writing station’s launch in June, more than 100 postcards have been written and sent across the United States and as far away as England and Scotland. The writing station is open to all (postcards are free of charge), not just hotel guests. Writers can drop their postcards in the station’s post office box, and hotel staff will add postage and deliver cards to the post office.

The hotel’s morning coffee and afternoon wine hour for guests have become popular postcard-writing times, and guests are expressing gratitude for the hotel caring about the details, Mallinger said.

“It’s just one of those smiles they get around the hotel,” he said. “I feel like a lot of people won’t leave the hotel in search of a postcard … you don’t even need to leave the hotel, and we’ll take care of it.”

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In February, the hotel hosted a Valentine’s Day love letter station, which turned out to be popular, so Christina Paonessa, Kimpton Hotels’ area public relations manager, suggested bringing in local artists for a postcard station.

Paonessa refills the stacks of postcards each day. This collection of artists will have their work on display for a year, then the hotel will select a new round of artists next summer, she said.

The writing station encourages people to pick up the bygone tradition of writing travel letters and postcards, she said.

“Come into our living room and grab a seat and spend as much time as you want,” Mallinger said. “Write one, write three.”