Renovation alert: The hotel is in the throes of a renovation under the eye of London designer Tara Bernerd (Thompson Chicago, Swissotel Basel) with wood floors, new fabrics and fresh furnishings being in installed in all guest rooms.
At a glance: I can’t say SoHo style, the chicly casual look defined by sophisticated colors, mid-century modern inflections and shaded floor lamps, originated here. But Sixty SoHo (nee 60 Thompson), one of the lucky few hotels with cool built into its DNA, helped perpetuate the look, thanks to a sleek, startling-for-2001 interior by designer Thomas O’Brien (his shop Aero Designs is a couple of blocks away).
The years have been kind, and a smart crowd still frequents the place, which feels like a small hotel in the best sense of the term. True, I’ve spotted some frayed edges and nicked walls. But the sizeable second-floor lobby, a clubby living room with low sofas and tufted window seats, cocoons you from SoHo’s chilly trendiness. (Thumbs up for the purple throw pillows, a zesty pop of color).
The dark, moody Thom Bar adjoins the lobby and jumps at night. And A60, the fabled rooftop bar atop the 13th floor serves up mouth-watering views (Empire State Building, Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge) from two terraces for card-carrying members and registered guests. Yes, the roof gets crowded, but on the sunny summer day I visited, I had the place to myself, if you didn’t count the man doing yoga and a woman reading a book.
Rooms: Serene, with immaculate white Sferra sheets. Larger rooms and suites exist, but mine was the smallest room in the house, a standard queen situated in the back of the building looking onto SoHo’s low buildings (gauzy floor-to-ceiling curtains softened the all-too-urban view).
The little room I saw was inviting and oddly romantic, with a neutral palette (pale café au lait walls, dark woods, gold velvet slipper chair), rich materials (the imposing rectangular headboard was pale tan suede) and clever details, like the mini butler’s table on stainless steel legs and the long mirrors inside each of the dark wood closet’s twin doors.
Two people could happily spend one night here (KiKi De Montparnasse pleasure kits nestle in the mini bar drawer along with Dean and Deluca goodies), though they’d probably hate each other after more than one night in such close captivity. But the bathroom, with walls lined in cocoa brown marble, a tub/shower combo and an imposing pedestal sink was quite spacious.
Food and drink: Kittichai, a contemporary Thai restaurant, is the hotel canteen (it supplies room service), and it’s quite a looker (a pond with floating orchids sits in the middle of the room). The way-over-the-top décor includes walls swathed in a rainbow of Thai silk and a tropical fish tank encased in a bamboo bird cage. I liked the drinking glasses with an indentation for your fingers.
I lunched happily on a brightly flavored salad, noodles tossed with veggies, bean sprouts and braised short ribs and a slice of chocolate cake that arrived gift-wrapped in a banana leaf with a dollop of whipped cream.
Amenities: WiFi ($10 a day). The fitness center is very small and very basic. Kiehls toiletries and iHome ipod docks in the rooms. Comp shoe shine.
Surroundings: The hotel is in the thumping heart of SoHo, but Thompson Street is one of the neighborhood’s quietest and least blatantly commercial, lined mostly with one-of-a-kind shops like the Hat Shop, Chelsea Girl vintage clothing and Le Corset by Selima. Scores of restaurants are nearby.
The hotel is convenient to anything Downtown, including Nolita, Tribeca and Greenwich Village and cultural institutions like Film Forum and the New Museum. The Meatpacking District and Chelsea are a short hop uptown, the Financial District, South Street Seaport and Battery Park loom a brief hop downtown. Subway stations are several blocks away as are bus stops.
Back story: 60 Thompson, to use its original name, had the incredibly bad luck to open its doors on September 10, 2001 but recovered smoothly. Even the site, home to a brick storage building on a once-scuzzy SoHo block, proved fortuitous: Thompson Street between Spring and Broome is one of SoHo’s least commercial blocks and a reminder of the area’s quieter, cooler days as an artist’s haven.
The hotel was the first link in hotelier Jason Pomeranc’s growing chain of high-profile boutiques that now include 6 Columbus and Thompson LES, among others, and goes under the moniker Sixty Hotels. The 2013 name change from 60 Thompson to SIXTY SoHo is part of a long story of the Thompson Group’s merger — and subsequent unmerger — with San Francisco’s Joie de Vie hotels. The irony? Thompson Hotels group no longer includes 60 Thompson, the reason the group got its name in the first place. As for the hotel’s new name, SIXTY SoHo is fine, but must it SHOUT?
Keep in mind: Thom Bar and A60 do lots of private parties and are often closed to guests. Some rooms do not have desks. The hotel is smoker-friendly, so be sure to request a smoke-free room if that’s an issue.