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Seating area in the Surety Hotel with wood pillars and white stone capitals in white room with recessed ceiling details
Surety Hotel

The Luxury of Social Currency

Project Location

Des Moines, IA


Aparium Hotel Group




Interiors, experiential programming

When restoring history, combining a modern lifestyle with unmatched service, one can find an experience with certainty and confidence at the Surety Hotel in downtown Des Moines’ “City of Certainties.” The designed experience results from a challenge to merge part heritage and part modernity – a parallel to how we portray ourselves and each of our collective stories.


The guest of the past, as they were in 1913, visited the building intending to deposit, exchange, and consult financially. The guest of today is independent and untethered to the traditional exchange. A new kind of trade is found in this adaptive reuse to a hotel: social currency. Through a network of completely restored historical spaces emerges a local living room and coffee parlor, a contemporary woodfire tavern and connecting solarium and courtyard, meeting spaces, guestrooms and suites that were once offices.

Explore the Surety Hotel

The Southern Surety Building’s adaptive reuse from a working bank to a hotel explores how architecture and design can evoke reactions and perceptions of the built environment in the ways we observe ourselves and one another.


Best Guestroom Upscale

41st annual Gold Key Awards

2021 Platinum: Historic Restoration

Muse Design Awards

2021 Platinum: Renovation

Muse Design Awards 2021

2021 Gold: Hotels & Resorts

Muse Design Awards

2021 Interior Architecture Merit Award

AIA Nebraska

Historic Confidence Relevant for Today

Originally designed in 1913 as a banking and commercial office skyscraper, the architecture makes a statement in its elaborate American Beaux Arts Classicism vocabulary with symmetrical and flamboyant features. The open lobby, serving as local “living room,” encourages guests to gather and features restored coffered ceilings and ground-glass transom windows that once looked down upon the former bank space. Now serving as a daytime coffee parlor and evening destination for cocktails with intimacy of a home. The designed experience results in a challenge to merge part heritage and part modernity – a parallel to how we portray ourselves and our collective stories.

Mulberry Street Tavern

Worldly takes on traditional tavern fare are served in a vibrant setting that features a zinc bar and an open-hearth kitchen. Aptly named Mulberry Street Tavern for its Mulberry St. and 6th Ave. crossroads, this comfortable spot is reminiscent of the neighborhood staple where locals gather. Rich wood, warm red leather booths, and warm lighting make a cozy environment for an after-work drink that lingers into dinner and an eventual night-cap. The restaurant dining area features a hand-fired copper metal cookline visible from the Mulberry St. sidewalk, enticing the senses. The bar design also features additional crafted finishes with a wood and stained glass-back bar.

Cleverly Edited but Equally Luxurious

The new hotel guestrooms evoke a humble yet sophisticated design: simple, contemplative, unadorned confidence. Taking shape from former offices outlined by original terra cotta floor plates, the rooms are thoughtfully restrained and inspired by a midwestern heirloom piece: the armoire. Subtly aligning the bathroom entry using this heritage design element, the doorway opens to expose the grooming area as one’s own cabinet of curiosity, outfitted with marble hexagon tile flooring which harkens back to the building’s original tile. Money green, hand glazed wall tile in the glass-enclosed showers are another storytelling touchpoint. Completing the space, new larger windows transform each room into a portal, harnessing the sun-filled bathrooms to pour light into the guestrooms and highlight their city views, of which some overlook the county courthouse, another piece of Des Moines history.

In the Media

In the Details

Surety Hotel

July 10, 2023

"Once the tallest building in the state, the Surety Hotel was constructed during an economic boom for the city of Des Moines, but it would cycle through a rolodex of names before finding the most befitting title." Read the history behind what's now one the now “World’s Best New Hotels” from Accidentally Wes Anderson.

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