Hotel Indigo Chelsea
Updated: Jan 06, 2012
id: stylish chain boutique hotel
cool detail: hardwood floors in the rooms
At a glance: This is what chain hotels with style aspirations look like in their dreams. It doesn’t hurt that this towering brick sliver, book-ended by a pair of squat office buildings, was built from scratch, opening in 2009.
True to the template for small 21st-century business hotels, the Indigo Chelsea, a link in the business-hip Indigo hotel chain, offers the basic frills and not much else.
But those basics come smartly packaged, from the small but savvy rooftop bar outfitted with slouchy brown leather club chairs that look like marshmallows to the spare, window-lined lobby outfitted with creamy ultra-suede sofas adorned with colorful pillows. Though the lobby is smaller than we’d like, it feels surprisingly airy with the addition of the new sofas. Blink, and the hotel changes its lobby furniture; first came an undulating high-backed ice-blue velvet sofa (gorgeous but wildly impractical), followed by those slouchy leather chairs seen on the roof.
The look is more Euro-inflected than before, no doubt deliberately, since the restaurant changed its ownership – and its look – in summer 2011, morphing into Café B, a downtown cousin to Bice, a stylish midtown Italian. (Bice also runs Sky B, the rooftop lounge.)
The lobby isn't built for lingering, unfortunate in a hotel with limited public spaces. Still, you usually see a guest or two working an iPhone or laptop or sipping a coffee. And cancelling the negatives are the hotel’s (usually) moderate prices.
Cool detail: Stylish images by fashion photographer Marco Glaviano deck the walls in the rooms and hallways, a nod to the hotel’s fashionista – or Garment District -- locale.
Rooms: The hotel is new, so small surprise the room pictured on the website was almost identical to the one we saw – except ours had a queen bed and looked a lot smaller. Ideal for one person, it would also suit two people who really like each other and didn’t plan to hang out in the room. We liked the wood floor, garnished with a lone indigo rug and the bed’s jazzy fabric and leather headboard, a crazy quilt of color. The indigo bed skirt on the spotless white bed provided a nice thematic touch, too. A tall, skinny dark wood clothing armoire matched the Parsons table, which doubled as a desk.
And the up-to-the-minute bathroom, with a large, glass-fronted stall shower but no tub, and a cool square sink, seemed larger than it was.
Food and drink: Sliver buildings don’t strike us as Italian, but gray-green walls, black-and-white photos of Italian cityscapes and dark wood furniture with leather seats that match the lobby club chairs give the dining room, refurbished in Summer 2011, a sophisticated, almost edgy feel. It’s an apt setting for a contemporary, moderately priced Italian-inflected fusion menu – devised by Bice executive chef Massimo Pisati -- that pairs pastas, insalades and paninis with entrees like Caribbean curry shrimp and tuna teriyaki. Our $21 salmon scaloppini in a Prosecco wine sauce was paired with a delectable lemon rosemary risotto, brightened with delicate slivers of lemon rind. A glass of bracing but pricey iced tea ($4) completed a pleasing meal.
The previous roof bar opened in Spring 2010, and we liked it. But we like Studio B, the newly configured Summer 2011 incarnation better. There’s more places to sit and drink in the cityscape through the frosted glass “walls” that create the feel of an outdoor room. The raw wood columns are stylish. And with a second terrace at the back of the building, your chances of scoring a seat – and a table -- improve.
Amenities: Free WiFi in the rooms and lobby. Pets up to 30 pounds stay free of charge. The small, mirrored basement fitness room includes the basics: treadmill, bike, elliptical machine, bench and weights. A pair of house computers is available in the basement.
Surroundings: Indigo Garment District doesn’t have the same ring as Indigo Chelsea, but it’s more accurate (the Fashion Institute of Technology is a block away). Shops selling handbags, hats and trimmings are nearby as are plant stores (the 20s still houses the Flower Market) and hotels, including a nice branch of Marriott Courtyard and the edgy Ace. Macy’s, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building and Chelsea’s gayborhood are a short walk away. Times Square, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center and Lincoln Center are easily reached by subway, bus or taxi as are the Meatpacking District, Greenwich Village and SoHo. And subway stations and bus stops are a block away.
Back story: The first New York link in Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Indigo chain, the Indigo Chelsea opened in late 2009. With more than 30 boutique hotels in urban settings, the Indigo chain launched in 2004 as IHG’s stylish but less glitzy response to Starwood’s hip W chain. New York-based architect Nobutaka Ashihara, creator of the New Otani Hotel in Los Angeles and the Courtyard Marriott south of Times Square, designed the hotel.
As mentioned above, the original true blue look of the lobby, restaurant and roof bar changed in summer 2011, a quick turnaround considering when the hotel opened. Out went the large undulating baby blue velvet sofa that acted as a room divider in the lobby. Out went Blu, the comfy-but-not-edgy Tuscan restaurant with crystal chandeliers, contemporary prints and a back-lit blue wall (reviewers proclaimed the décor and menu “meh”). And the roofbar got new furniture – out with the teak, in with weathered wood and pillowy leather club chairs – and a new configuration. The new look – contemporary-Italy-meets-New-York-sliver-highrise – is edgier and more in tune with the neighborhood – or how the neighborhood likes to see itself.
Keep in mind: Some rooms are small. The hotel can feel sterile.
What We Saw: