Hotel Gansevoort Meatpacking District
Updated: Feb 20, 2014
‘hood: meatpacking district
cool detail: balconies in some rooms
By Terry Trucco
At a glance: This is as close as you can get to South Beach without leaving town.
Okay, we're not talking weather, but with its heated rooftop pool, offering plenteous chaises and easy access to the pricey bar, and a crowd that mixes the young/hip with those who think they are (or wish they were), this silvery 14-story tower, built in 2004, flaunts a palpable SB vibe, a mix of partying and preening by night, families by day.
Don’t expect to dive -- the pool is only four feet deep. And though the hotel has high-tech conference rooms – and free WiFi – the tone is set by its sybaritic resort amenities, like lively bars and a spa, and its marquee status as a pioneering hotel in the trend-centric Meatpacking District.
For a hip hotel, seven years borders on geriatric, especially when newer, buzzier outposts, like the Standard, encroach on your turf. The aging Gansevoort needed some new tricks up its fraying sleeve, and change arrived in June 2010, with a new lobby and an indoor/outdoor cafe. Rooms updates followed in 2012.
The lobby is a big, clubby, good-looking playroom, with a pool table, Barcelona chairs and an enormous bar (more pricey Meatpacking District drinks). As a proponent of big, democratic hotel lobbies, I'm disappointed that the lounge is velvet-roped off, with freebie seating constricted to small clusters of leather club chairs atop cowhide rugs.
Staying afloat in this cut-throat, style-obsessed 'hood isn't easy, but the Gansevoort knows the ropes. It's still popular and still a looker. (A newer uptown branch Gansevoort Avenue, famed for putting up the Kardashians, offers more of the same on the outskirts of midtown.)
Cool detail: A cobblestone sidewalk hugs the hotel, a wink at the original cobbled street in front, more than a century and a half old.
Rooms: Reminiscent of Sex and the City, they’re contemporary, stylish and sexy-sleek, though not as spacious as I’d like for a luxe hotel built from the ground up (most have queen-size beds instead of kings). But following a redo in 2012, they're fresh, outfitted with pops of color.
My favorite features a bay window outfitted with a handsome window seat, so you can sit, room service coffee or champagne in hand, and gaze out onto the Hudson – or the bright red sign for Pastis, the hip bistro across the street. (The glassed-in balconies, available in larger rooms, are cool, too).
Beds are immaculate and white topped by angular tufted leather headboards framed in signature dark wood.
Translucent glass doors add glamour to the bathrooms (look for rectangular Japanese-style sinks in the larger rooms).
Food and drink: It seems every time I turn around the hotel has a new restaurant. The latest, The Chester, serves up comfort food and it a big switch from its predecessors, most recently Tanuki Tavern, which all served Asian cuisine. With the trendy new menu -- butternut squash ravioli, marinated skirt steak, kale caesar -- comes new digs: white subway-tiled walls and checkerboard marble floors lighted by crystal chandeliers. There's also plentiful outdoor dining, great for Meatpacking District people watching.
Plunge, the alfresco roof bar featuring Hudson views, pricey drinks and a stylish indoor lounge, can be lovely on a summer night -- and gets wilder as the night wears on.
Amenities: Rooftop pool, available year-round to guests only. Well-equipped fitness center in the basement. Exhale, a stylish full-service spa, is also in the basement. In addition to reduced fees for treatments, guests can use the steam room free of charge. Free WiFi. Guests can use Puma bikes (available with helmets) free of charge (a bike is an easy way to get around Downtown, and nearby Hudson River Park is ideal for a ride). IPod docking stations. A variety of kid services, including Wii games and a treat box at check in. Pets allowed ($100 per stay).
Surroundings: The Gansevoort is in the heart of the Meatpacking District, a small, out-of-the-way expanse near the Hudson River that lived up to its name a century ago with 250 slaughterhouses. These days its notoriety hovers around a hip line-up of restaurants, nightclubs, shops and hotels. This is a superb locale if you plan to spend time in Downtown Manhattan, long to wrap yourself in designer clothes and want to drink in the party vibe -- literally (lots of bars, lots of late hours).
Crave sports? Chelsea Piers, the uber-athletics center with bowling, golf, ice-skating and a gym, is nearby, and Hudson River Park boasts ideal running and biking trails. Love contemporary art? Chelsea’s galleries are a short walk away as is Greenwich Village. SoHo, Nolita, Tribeca and what remains of the Financial District are also an easy reach. The subway is a trek, but buses, including the Crosstown 14 that delivers you to the subway, are steps from the hotel. And taxis are everywhere, especially late at night.
Back story: The Gansevoort’s immediate predecessor was a parking lot. That didn’t stop a hue and cry from preservationists when ground broke in 2003 for this ultra-modern glass-and-metal pile, built by WSA Management and designed by architect Stephen Jacob with interiors by Andi Popper.
At 13 stories, including a rooftop pool, it towers over its low-slung neighbors in this historic district (the cobblestone streets are the real deal). And with its hip vibe and pulsating nightlife, it embodies the latest incarnation of Meatpacking District.
The fuss eventually calmed down. The nearby Standard Hotel is even taller, and with its notorious floor-to-ceiling windows, more infamous. We wouldn’t call the Gansevoort sedate, but it looks utterly at home.
Keep in mind: The flatpanel TVs in the rooms I saw were very small.
What We Saw: