When makeup mogul Bobbi Brown left her eponymous cosmetics brand in late 2016, she surprised everyone by setting her sights on giving a historic New Jersey hotel a makeover. The big reveal: The George debuted as a chic 32-room boutique property in Montclair, 12 miles west of New York City.
The same natural-beauty aesthetic that Brown helped popularize with her cosmetics carries over to the hotel, which she opened with her real estate developer husband, Steven Plofker, in April. They kept the bones of the stately 1902 brick structure and filled it with a stylish palette of gray and white with red highlights in the form of Smeg mini-fridges, Union Jack pillows and plaid headboard fabric.
The inn’s library is a cozy corner with slate coffered walls, a fireplace and furniture sourced from One Kings Lane as well as the couples’ travels and their own personal collection. The accommodations also have personality — each one is given a name that sparks design inspiration. For example, the Martha room comes with portraits of a young Martha Stewart and Martha Washington, while the Oscar’s walls hold photos of famous namesakes such as de la Renta, Wilde and the Grouch.
We talked to Brown about why she chose Montclair for her first hospitality venture, her favorite travel destination and what’s next for her.
What made you decide to open a hotel after leaving Bobbi Brown Cosmetics?
My husband brought me the opportunity the day I left the brand, and I jumped on it. I am a serial entrepreneur who loves to dive into projects that are new and that I’ve never done before. This one combined two of my favorite things: my love of travel and design.
Why did you choose Montclair for your first hotel?
I have lived in Montclair from the day I got married. I love this town. Whether it’s a museum, library or the public schools, I understand what it means to be a Montclarion. And I understand how lucky we are to be in this nice, cool town, which is not a typical suburb, just 12 miles away from New York City.
Montclair is the new Brooklyn, but here you can breathe. There’s so many things happening, things I love and enjoy. Montclair is very diverse, eclectic, creative and ever-changing. I’m looking forward to all of the local partnerships we are forging with the community, from fitness studios to restaurants and more. Any entrepreneur in Montclair will be able to bring something to The George.
What’s your favorite part of The George?
I love the whole vibe of the place. If I had to choose, I suppose I would choose the library because it was designed specifically for people to be comfortable, and easily talk with friends, do work or just relax there.
However, since three rooms are named after my sons, I can’t just choose one.
What was your design inspiration for the hotel?
Our inspiration is drawn from what we’ve liked in our travels. I am a self-proclaimed Anglophile. I have a simple, warm and eclectic style with touches of interest from all over. Comfort with a cool edge is what we love. Industrial, mixed with classics.
Since you are a makeup and wellness guru, we have to ask: what made you pick EO Products for the bathrooms?
I have always been a fan of EO Products. They’re super fresh, and are made with simple yet effective ingredients. They also smell incredible.
What is your philosophy on hospitality at The George?
There is no detail too small when trying to curate an experience for people — especially in a hotel. My husband and I travel all the time, and we prefer to stay in boutique hotels as opposed to the larger run of the mill. For us, it’s the details that make a difference.
What’s next for the hotel?
We are in the process of creating a pop-up shop at the hotel, which will sell all of the hotel’s amenities. Everything in the hotel is actually for sale. If you see it, you can buy it.
[Also an afternoon] tea at The George is currently in development and will launch in the fall.
What’s are some places in Montclair that people should know about?
Architect Studios: I love their HIIT [high-intensity interval training] class and their amazing personal trainers.
De Novo: They can simplify and customize any dish on the menu, and it’s a great scene at the bar.
Montclair Film Festival: Montclair has always been a home for creatives. This has become a defining event for Montclair, merging the town’s love for film and giving back. Local residents Stephen [yes, he of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert fame] and Evie Colbert are very involved.
Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center: My husband and I are founding members. It is an amazing place with so much history and such great children’s programs. Yogi was one of my favorite people. [Editor’s note: The iconic New York Yankees catcher lived in Montclair for more than 50 years.]
Eric Salon: The best color, cuts and blowouts in town.
18 Label Studio: This is home to BSTV’s The Kitchen. It’s awesome having a full TV and film studio five minutes from my house.
Dot Reeder: A cool boutique that sells the most amazing edit of clothing brands from Barneys to Jeffrey.
Aside from The George, what are your favorite hotels?
When we travel, we stay in cool, boutique hotels. We like the aesthetic, vibe and individuality of each one. We love to stay in the Soho House, especially in Chicago and Miami, and we’re looking forward to the Soho Farmhouse [in Oxfordshire, England] in the fall.
What are your favorite travel destinations?
I just bought a house in the Bahamas with my family. The color of the ocean [in the Bahamas] is unlike anything else in the world, and I love spending time there.
Do you plan on opening any other hotels?
This will be the one and only hotel I open!
Aside from The George, what other projects are you working on?
Two current ventures we’ve been working on are JustBobbi.com and Evolution_18. JustBobbi.com is a modern lifestyle platform for all things wellness, beauty, travel and everything in between, which aims to educate and inspire how you live your life through never-ending exploration and creative storytelling.
With Evolution_18, we introduced four wellness products to the market to bring my “beauty from the inside out” philosophy to life.