Updated: Jun 24, 2016
id: stylish contemorary high rise
cool detail: inviting mezzanine library
By Terry Trucco
At a glance: What’s a 46-story glass tower doing in SoHo? Trump SoHo stands way above its low-slung neighbors and from the outside looks every inch the interloper, a glitzy East Side transplant pounding its chest while trying to be cool.
The lobby seems a continuation of the exterior, a cross between a luxury condominium and a high-end chain hotel. But on closer examination Trump SoHo surprises, in good ways.
The manly, window-and-wood-paneled lobby, courtesy of uber-hotel designers the David Rockwell Group, welcomes with an airy feel – the ceiling soars -- and generous seating areas outfitted with sleek tweed sofas and slipper chairs in cream leather or chocolate velvet. Bronzed leather club chairs hugging a wood-paneled wall offer still more seating, attracting laptop users and coffee sippers (Starbucks is across the street). And luxury hotel lobby staples like giant chandeliers and even a discreet waterfall are skillfully tweaked for hipper, 21st century tastes.
Given the hotel’s chilly exterior, the biggest surprise is the warmth within (well, human, that is; the place is air-conditioned to the max in the summer). The staff is professional and friendly. Champagne and strawberries are offered at check in.
The 391-room property touches all the grand hotel bases -- adroitly. There’s the predictable A-list bar, a spa and a small, good-looking outdoor pool in use seasonally that’s lined with a waterfall and ringed with chaises.
SoHo is the land of boutique properties, and I'm not sure how I feel about a big place muscling in. But Trump SoHo flexes its muscles with skill.
Cool detail: A glamorous mezzanine library offers a modest collection of Taschen books and plenteous seating on velvet banquettes. Redone in 2013, it looks more like a cocktail lounge than a library (i miss the big round table sheathed in brown 'gator-embossed leather). Still, it's a comfy/sophisticated spot to catch the news on a big flatscreen TV or curl up with a drink (the cocktail tables hold menus) or newspaper stacks are available, including the Observer, which is owned by Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner. (The Trump clan oversees but does not own the hotel.)
Rooms: Good looking and smartly appointed in an offends-no-one way, rooms are big (422 square feet and up), contemporary and high tech with remote controls for the curtains, room temperature and lights. Massive, macho-chic headboards in cocoa tufted leather crown the king size beds topped with pillowtop mattresses.
As befits a hotel that towers over its neighbors, the floor-to-ceiling windows trump any artwork and afford postcard Manhattan views especially in corner rooms on high floors (go low and you may wind up staring at the less-than-poetic entrance to the Holland Tunnel). Wet bars, microwave ovens and one-cup Nespresso espresso makers are standard equipment, a nice touch that gives rooms the feel of pieds a terre, not surprising because that's what they are. As a condo-hotel, Trump SoHo rooms are individually owned and revert to hotel rooms when owners aren’t using them.
Bathrooms are spacious, clad in veined gray marble and outfitted with closeted toilets. Most have a separate stall shower encased in clear glass and a big tub perched in front of the window affording a great view (and memorable soak). Though classically appointed, the bathrooms flaunt the hotel’s trendiest feature: they’re doorless. You've been warned.
Food and drink: A branch of Koi, the chic Japanese restaurant at the Bryant Park Hotel, opened in Fall 2012 in the large, window-lined space on the main floor. It replaced Quattro, Gastronomia Italiana, an offshoot of a stylish South Beach Miami eatery that never clicked and closed at the end of 2011. And it attracts a glamorous crowd, notably weight-conscious models.
Breakfast and weekend brunch are served in the restaurant's upstairs room.
Drinks are also served in the library and Kassel, the hotel’s hot bar on the main floor.
Bar D’Eau, an airy retreat overlooking the pool, is open during warm weather and serves light food as well as drinks.
Amenities: The well-appointed seventh-floor fitness center features floor-to-ceiling windows. A superb Turkish-inflected spa offers a deep-dish menu of sophisticated – and pricey -- treatments (the 90-minute $350 Kate Somerville facial includes an LED light treatment that aims to boost collagen production) and hammams, a fabled Turkish water sauna, for men and women.
The good-looking, compact outdoor pool, ringed by chaises, is on the same floor as the spa and is open in good weather. Bocce court (a nod to SoHo’s past). The hotel is extremely baby and kid friendly (kid robes, slippers and menu, business cards printed with the kid’s name, swimming lessons available). Pets up to 25 lbs. allowed ($250 cleaning fee per stay). WiFi ($14.95 a day).
Surroundings: The hotel is farther west of SoHo’s main action than the name implies, but it’s still a superb location if you’re interested in easy proximity to shop-, club- and restaurant-packed downtown areas like SoHo, Greenwich Village, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, Nolita, the Meatpacking District and the Financial District. The Hudson River and Hudson River Park are a short walk away. Also fairly nearby are the High Line and the New Museum. The subway is a short walk away, making uptown attractions like Times Square, the Theater District and Lincoln Center easily accessible. Still, if you’re not inclined to use the subway, midtown is a pricey taxi ride.
Back Story: Trump SoHo opened in April 2010, but like its flashy namesake, the $450 million hotel is no stranger to controversy. The 46-story building’s size and appearance prompted widespread opposition from local groups including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Columbia University architecture professor Mitchell Joachim deemed the finished product, designed by Handel Architects, one of the ugliest buildings in New York.
Construction was halted briefly in 2006 when workers discovered human bones on the site. Apparently the building stands above 19th-century burial vaults built under the Spring Street Presbyterian Church, a previous occupant of the site. Construction was halted again briefly when a worker fell to his death from a high floor.
As mentioned above, the Trump is a condo-hotel. Due to a zoning regulation precluding private residences – this was originally a manufacturing area -- units are privately – and individually – owned, but owners may occupy their properties no more than 120 days a year. Rooms revert to the hotel the remaining days. At the time of its opening, only one third of the units had sold, according to The Wall Street Journal.
As for the Trump affiliation, the hotel’s developers included the Baycock Group, Tamir Sapir and the Trump Organization. Trump sibs Ivanka and Donald, Jr. oversee the property.
Keep in mind: It’s a tall building and elevators can be s-l-o-w. Freezing air conditioning in the public spaces (bring a sweater, even when it's warm outside).
What We Saw: