Hotel Hipsters - Luxury Travel Magazine
|By: Tom Chin and Michael Jones, Issue 47 - Winter 11|
|(New York – Mondrian Soho, Eventi, The Surrey, The Setai Fith Avenue, The Intercontinental New York Times Square, The Chatwal)|
|JUST AS YOU’D EXPECT FROM THE WORLD CAPITAL OF COOL, THE LATEST CROP OF NEW YORK LUXURY HOTELS CAPTURES THE SPIRIT OF THE TIMES. TOM CHIN AND MICHAEL JONES VISITED EIGHT RECENTLY-OPENED HIGH-END HOTELS TO SAMPLE THE LATEST IN HIP DESIGN, IN-ROOM TECHNOLOGY, RESPONSIBLE LUXURY AND PET HOSPITALITY.|
|DESIGN HOTELS NEW YORK CITY |
|SCHOOL OF FINE DESIGN |
These two hotels represent the young blood of New York’s chic hotel scene. They encapsulate the new caring hippie philosophy which is all about the perhaps uncomfortable mix of sustainability and hedonism. Access all information about the Mondrian SoHo hotel via an iPad 2 on the desk in your room. At the Eventi, eat the sumptuous food at Basque restaurant to a chorus coming from the adjoining bar/nightclub scene. Neither of these two things will present a problem to any gen X or Y guest.
|MONDRIAN SOHO |
|The entrance to Mondrian SoHo is through an ivy colonnaded tunnel of love designed by Benjamin Noriega Ortiz. Ortiz is a master at creating an ambience of mystery. At Mondrian SoHo he’s installed candlelit lanterned walkways and in the lifts, an almost non-existent pale blue wash (reinventing the notion of indirect lighting). The theme of romance and mystery is continued in the hotel’s garden where perfumed blossom trees are set out, inspired by Jean Cocteau’s 1946 French film La Belle et la Bête (The Beauty and the Beast). In the glass conservatory dining room he seems to be saying “you can’t have too many (10!) chandeliers darling”. This hotel seems perfect for its location in the heartland of New York’s uber chic and cool, with Dean & Deluca, Balthazar, Chanel and Louis Vuitton all nearby. Derek Lam, the new enfant terrible of fashion is just opposite. From sunrise to sunset the Manhattan skyline beckons guests through the full height glass window of the room which, just so you know, includes the shower! And if, like the rest of Soho you don’t want to sleep, The Blue Ribbon Sushi restaurant nearby (a popular haunt of the chic and infamous) |
DesignHotel_NewYork.indd 77 20/06/11 4:23 PM welcomes diners as late as 11.30pm and on into the early hours.
|RATES start from US$349 (about A$328) per night for a Standard King Room, and from US$595 (about A$560) per night for a Queen Bed Suite. |
|The motto of the Eventi hotel is to Live Life and the enthusiasm of its San Francisco founder Bill Kimpton to get into things is evident throughout the hotel and in the partnerships he embraces with organisations such as The Trust for Public Land (hence the open spaces adjacent to the hotel dedicated to open air screenings of short films held for the local community). Another partnership, Dress for Success is dedicated to improving the lives of women by providing professional clothing and employment programs for self sufficiency. This is fitting for the hotel’s location in Manhattan’s garment district on 6th Ave and 30th Street. Here, the hotel is well located to explore the flower markets on 28th Street overflowing with every imaginable bloom and the nearby Chelsea markets (for fresh produce including a bountiful seafood market) and the High Line Walk (a rejuvenation of a disused freight line fronting the Hudson River with self seeding plantings, audio/visual art installations and glass viewing spurs overlooking 10th Avenue and the river). The hotel offers specially designed menus to support healthy travel (calories, carbohydrates and saturated fats are all counted). One is never lonely at the Eventi as pets are encouraged with special programs and pet pedicures and massages. Packages include pet beds, walking maps, treats, pet entertainment programs and pet sitting. If you have left your pet behind you can borrow the hotel’s guppy fish and bond with it in your room while the staff takes care of it for you. Meanwhile, caring for the guests includes complimentary drinks in the evenings often held in the dedicated open spaces if weather permits or in front of the cosy open fire in the lobby. Coffee and tea is also served in the morning as part of this service. The rooms and suites are elegant, modern and light filled with views of the Empire State building. |
|RATES start from US$329 (about A$309) per night for a King Room, and US$569 (about A$535) per night for a Premier One-Bedroom Suite. |
|DESIGN HOTELS NEW YORK CITY|
|The Surrey is a 1920s Beaux-Arts townhouse that recently underwent a $60 million refurbishment as a hotel. It is styled as an Upper East Side home with contemporary artworks cleverly chosen by Lauren Rottet, decorator extraordinaire who has overseen this “architectural digest” refurbishment drawing inspiration from various eras of fashion. The hotel bar, Bar Pleiades is styled as a Coco Chanel bag, with the banquettes taking on the famous quilted stitching. Contemporary artworks in the bar take it to a higher level; black and white photos of cigarette smoke line the banquettes evoking that mysterious sensuality of a glamorous 1920s art deco room. A William Kentridge art work features framed videos of pages of an antique book turning with the real book placed in situ underneath. This is the home we all want to live in, classic elegance teamed with carefully chosen art pieces from today’s galleries; bowls of white roses and a wall-sized tapestry of Chuck Close’s image of a Kate Moss close up, sans makeup. The piece de resistance is the roof garden, a space that emulates the Hamptons; pale timber decking, tailored lavender hedges scenting the balmy spring evenings, soft upholstered lounges creating an open garden room with cosy nooks that overlook the Manhattan skyline all the way to Central Park, the Dakota building and Strawberry Fields. The other jewel in the Surrey’s crown is Cafe Boulud, the original home of Daniel Boulud’s first New York City restaurant, Daniel. Under the tutelage of Gavin Kaysen as executive chef and his captain Giovanni Giambrone, every diner is made to feel as comfortable as the locals that file in, replete in vintage Chanel. Giovanni is a maitre’d who can make sure that your dinner finishes on time for the opera whilst juggling a parade of incoming, albeit, patient diners. This is the calibre of the entire staff from the house engineer, the doorman, to the front of house reception. No one graduated from hospitality school yesterday. “Sirius”, the handsomely manicured standard black poodle house “guest” was kind enough to share the lift with me on his way to bed, which just so you know, was especially turned down for him, complete with his doggie treat on the pillow. My turn down treat that night included a chocolate coated madeleine, the weather forecast for another sunny New York spring day and a suggestion for a local restaurant of renown for tomorrow’s culinary adventure. The hotel’s spa is open to the public and is well patronised by the doyens of the Upper East Side who enjoy the most luxurious organic products, Darphin and LiTya from Australia. The guilty sense of luxury is assuaged by knowing that these products harmed no animals and are 100 per cent organic. |
|RATES start from US$499 (about A$469) per night for a Deluxe Salon, and US$4,022 (about A$3,782) per night for an Ultra Deluxe Three- Bedroom Suite. |
|THE SETAI FIFTH AVENUE |
|The Setai Fifth Avenue is an international hotel between 36th and 37th streets set within a new 60-storey tower designed by renowned New York architect firm Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. The building was inspired by the abstract Cubist compositions of Le Corbusier’s 1920s work and the apartment suites feature faceted full-height windows that project out onto the street allowing you to stand at the edge of the room and look down and out at the same time! The international flavour is evident in the interior fit out with streamlined Italian oak veneer panelled walls that continue up onto ceilings, a popular trademark of the 20s Modernist movement. The wood is echoed in all the minimalist linear long line built ins and together with Luce Di Luna marble and neutral carpet shades, the overall effect is overwhelmingly Italian moderne. The suite sizes are generous; the living area, the bedroom and the bathrooms are each given an entry space that makes the entire suite feel expansive. The television screens are micro thin and even the bathroom mirror has a hidden mini TV screen within, revealed at a touch of a remote control button. A Nespresso machine is given a dedicated alcove, built-in of course. The Setai Fifth Avenue is a renaissance palace fit for a modern day Doge. The hotel’s restaurant, Ai Fiori, complements its grandeur with oversized flower arrangements that ensure each evening’s dinner setting is unforgettable. The Ligurian cuisine is overseen by chef Michael White, whose deft hand at deconstructing traditional Provençale fare transports it into the 21st century. The rum baba is presented in its various components only to be melded by your taste buds into a sum greater than its parts. The highly professional staff creates the warm human glue that makes this place a sum greater than all its impressive inanimate parts. And finally, even when you venture out into Manhattan or off to the airport from the swank interiors of The Setai, you can do it in grand style in the hotel’s Maserati. |
|RATES start from US$581 (about A$546) per night for a Standard Room, and from US$896 (about A$842) per night for an Avenue Apartment Suite. |
Whilst both of these hotels are in New York’s theatre district and privileged Club Row, the InterContinental Times Square and The Chatwal are at opposite ends of a time spectrum. The latter, a Stanton White designed building (he is of the Washington Arch fame), is steeped in New York architectural history whilst the former is a new skyscraper of monumental proportions. Each has its own loyal niche market and both are well located for a high stepping Broadway musical or an intense mind probing play.
|THE INTERCONTINENTAL NEW YORK TIMES SQUARE |
|This is a major international chain hotel that offers all the usual things its loyal clientele expect. The expansive entrance foyer, the multiple check-in registration attendants, the generous restaurant space and the banks of lifts are all familiar comforts of home for the Intercontinental guest. The standout features of the hotel are the suites and studio rooms, some of which occupy prime corner positions in the building. The views are quintessential New York Times Square; canyons of iridescent neon lights advertising the latest Broadway shows against art deco skyscrapers. Lovely to look at but from a distance. The hotel is designed by Jeffery Beers, an international design team with a global portfolio featuring contemporary themes and a focus on green and sustainable buildings. The young team that staff the hotel is keen to personalise the experience of staying there, which is a good thing given that Times Square is daunting even for the most seasoned travellers. This was affirmed with flying colours when I was seized with a late night craving for a Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream. The concierge was very obliging in identifying the nearest store. Guests find the in-room information not in the standard compendium but on the television screens and on the computer. The in-room technology extends from iPod docks, wired and wireless Internet, touch screen computers (Microsoft Office is available for a charge), automatic sensors that identify mini bar items in need of restocking and a delightful fully automated espresso machine for even the most mechanically challenged guest. The hotel is also serviced by celebrity chef Todd English’s branded Ça Va, with a French inspired |
brassiere, bar and lounge.
|RATES start from US$332.10 (about A$312) per night for a Superior Room and US$602.10 (about A$566) per night for a Sky View Avenue Studio. |
|THE CHATWAL |
|This neo-Georgian building on west 44th street, between 6th and 7th Avenue is steeped in American theatre history as it was originally the home of the prestigious Lambs, America’s first professional theatrical club whose members included the Barrymores (John Barrymore resided in the club) Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille, Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire. This specific district is known as Club Row because of the many famous private clubs of Manhattan’s privileged classes spotting the area. Thierry Despont, architect and designer, meticulously restored The Chatwal building drawing on the high glamour of steamship travel of the 1920s and 30s. The rooms are fitted with bespoke free standing credenzas and wardrobes finished in burgundy ostrich skin and chrome edges. The bathrooms are mirror walled similarly with chrome and burgundy quartz floors are embedded with silver shards that catch the light akin to sparkling midnight stars. The walls are papered in ochre suede. Even though homage is appropriately paid to its history. The Chatwal is equipped with up-to-the-minute technology; the room control for drapes, lights and climate is on a touch screen panel. The bathroom has an integrated television in the mirror and the heated toilet seat has a myriad of controls for the bidet jets that would make a geyser blush. The hotel prides itself on its butler service for the rooms. The head butler oversees the performances of all the butlers assigned to the guests. No task is too much for the asking, from the mundane pressing duties to identifying the obscure background music to the new Alexander McQueen retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The bar, the Lambs Club, in Empire Deco style, is built around a void over the foyer and evokes a feeling of one setting sail across the Atlantic. The hum is very much modern New York as it fills up with pre theatre crowds. One can almost hear F Scott Fitzgerald laughing with Noel Coward as they share a jug of martinis, with three olives. |
|RATES start from US$497.80 (about A$468) per night for a Superior Guestroom and US$1,025 (about A$964) for a One-Bedroom Suite. n |
TO FIND OUT ABOUT EVENTS IN NEW YORK CITY AND TO PLAN A TRIP VISIT THE OFFICIAL NEW YORK CITY WEBSITE AT NYCGO.COM