On Business in Detroit

By: William Railton

March 13, 2015

With a body built by Henry Ford and the soul of Marvin Gaye, Detroit has a lot to offer business travellers looking for after hours and between meetings diversions. Take a look at our guide to business in Detroit to make the most of your time out of the office.

Where to stay: Modern elegance meets old-world glamour at The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit – the world’s tallest hotel when it was built in 1924. As the name suggests, The Atheneum Suite Hotel channels the flavour of its Greektown setting, providing a Grecian twist on modern luxury with its large marble bathrooms and whirlpools baths. You could try your hand at MGM Grand Detroit – with an in-house casino and a range of lounges and nightclubs, we’d recommend requesting a wake-up call for that early morning meeting.

Just a short drive away from Detroit’s centre, The Henry, Dearborn has a fantastic selection of artwork on its walls. But if you’re after a speedier getaway, The Westin Detroit Metropolitan is just a short shuttle ride away from Detroit Metropolitan airport, within dangerously easy reach of the airport’s McNamara Terminal Mall.

On Business in Detroit | The Westin
Outside the Westin Book Cadillac © The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

Where to eat: Steak is definitely on the menu in Detroit, and with the award-winning Roast at the Westin Book Cadillac, guests here won’t have to travel far for dinner. Try the dry-aged rib eye topped with beef fat gremolata or head out to Roseville for Chateaubriand at Mr. Paul’s Chophouse. The service at this family-run steakhouse is warm and thoughtful and its reasonable prices make it a firm local favourite. The oldest Jazz club in Detroit, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge serves its mains with some musical accompaniment. Featuring a piano-shaped bar and art deco detailing, Baker’s has played host to musical legends like Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat “King” Cole. For a daytime bite, try The Hudson Café. The variety of pancakes, French toasts, waffles and egg dishes on its delicious brunch menu are sure to give you a boost for that afternoon presentation.

 On Business in Detroit | The Oakland
Showstopping mixology at The Oakland © The Oakland

Where to go for evening drinks: Forget gasoline – after the sun sets, it’s liquor that keeps Detroit running through the night. For an authentic taste of the Midwest, head to Detroit City Distillery or Two James in Corktown – the first Detroit-based distillery to obtain a license after Prohibition. Both serve their own craft spirits in cocktails on the premises, putting their bourbons and whiskies to imaginative use. With hundreds of cocktails and whiskies served at The Sugar House on Michigan Avenue and the speakeasy decadence of The Oakland in the chic suburb of Ferndale, Metro Detroit’s bars have some stiff competition when it comes to stiff drinks. If you’re still thirsty, slink over to HopCat Detroit for a vast array of craft beers – from IPAs and stouts to blondes and barleywines, you’ll find more kinds of craft beer here than anywhere else in the state.

On Business in Detroit
Creative cocktails at The Sugar House © Tall James Photography

Top sights: From the gilded interiors of New Center’s Fisher Building to the outfield at Comerica Park – home to the Detroit Tigers – there’s plenty to see in your downtime when on business in Detroit. The Detroit Institute of Art houses a huge collection, including works by Van Gogh, Whistler and Rivera (whose vast Industry Murals depict life at Detroit’s Ford Rouge plant). You can still visit this cradle of the motor industry at its original site on the banks of the River Rouge in Dearborn. The Henry Ford complex also houses a museum celebrating the USA’s automotive heritage – highlights include its collection of US presidential limousines and Rosa Parks’ bus. But Detroit’s industry isn’t just about the cars. Explore the city’s role manufacturing arms in WWII at The Detroit Historical Museum. Finally, no trip to “˜Motown’ would be complete without a visit to Hitsville USA – the birthplace of the Motown Records Corporation and now the site of the Motown Museum. With instruments, photographs and memorabilia all on show, the museum has been sharing its soul with music lovers since 1985.

On Business in Detroit
Assembly inside The Ford Factory © The Henry Ford

Great gifts: Take back a souvenir or an educational toy from The Henry Ford Museum Store so the kids won’t feel like they missed out. If you’re in a rush, pop over to Midtown’s Cass Corridor, where City Bird stocks a quirky range of artisanal tote bags, trinkets and art (all Detroit-themed). For something a little edgier, Pure Detroit has branches downtown, at the Renaissance Center and in the lobby of the Fisher Building, selling tees, hoodies and lifestyle goods like beard balm and coffee from local roaster The Great Lakes. If you’re shopping for a bibliophile, look no further than John K. King’s Used & Rare Books. With four floors of books and no computer record of what’s in stock, the pleasure’s in the perusing – centrally situated on W. Lafayette Blvd, at least the store will be easy to find!

On Business in Detroit
Air Plants at City Bird © City Bird

Going local: Head for Belle Isle Park in the Detroit River and join the locals on this 982-acre island oasis, home to its own driving range. Alternatively, you could chat to one of the 250 vendors at Detroit Eastern Market. Not far from the Cass Corridor, the open-air Saturday market has been selling fresh produce to the city’s residents for over a century. Be sure to pick up a bottle of Michigan maple syrup before heading home.

On Business in Detroit
Enjoy some downtime at Belle Isle Park © River North Photography/Thinkstock/iStock

Where to break curfew: Still home to many Greek-themed restaurants and buildings, Greektown remains one of downtown Detroit’s most vibrant entertainment hubs. For live contemporary music, get yourself down to The Shelter in the basement of Greektown’s Saint Andrew’s Hall, or over to The Majestic in Midtown – also home to the USA’s oldest surviving bowling alley, you can keep knocking down pins until 2 a.m. Out in the northeastern district of Hamtramck, between the 6 and 7 Mile Roads, The Two Way Inn serves bottled beer and shots, encouraging “fine diving” until 2 a.m. on Thurdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

On Business in Detroit
Catch some live music at The Majestic © The Majestic


Header Image © duha127/Thinkstock/iStock


Virgin Atlantic operate direct flights from London to Detroit, making it easy to book your next business trip.


Where do you go on business in Detroit? Let us know your favourite business-friendly spots in the comments section below.


William Railton

William is a big fan of foreign cinema and a language-lover. He has spent time in Paris and Morocco and thinks that the best way to see a country is on foot, either by hiking or running. Follow William @willrailton

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