A Last Look at the Hotel Chelsea – And a Chat with the Photographer Who Captured its Final Days

On an impulse, I stopped by the Hotel Chelsea the week before it closed two years ago for what was supposed to be a one-year renovation. As it turned out, this was the Chelsea’s last hurrah as the much-loved, occasionally reviled free spirit of the New York hotel scene. Read more

An Easy Check-In at the New High Line Hotel

High Line Hotel lobby: home to iPad check-in.

High Line Hotel lobby: home to iPad check-in.

The new High Line Hotel occupies a Victorian brick building with a parade of 19th-century-style gas lamps planted out front. Classic black phones with rotary dials perch on the nightstands. And on each desk, a gilded iron embosser sits at the ready should the urge strike to take pen (make that fountain pen) to paper and write a letter the time-honored way.

But check-in is pure 21st century. Read more

A New Hotel with Great Views of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

For 364 days of the year the most desirable rooms at the new Courtyard Marriott Manhattan/Herald Square are those with views of the Empire State Building. But that changes on Thanksgiving Day.

The new 167-room hotel has the good fortune to sit on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 35th Street, a block away from Macy’s Department Store and directly above the street where Snoopy, Hello Kitty and all the other balloons, floats and bands pass by in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Read more

A First Look at Brooklyn’s Cool New Wythe Hotel

On the waterfront: Wythe Hotel.

The coolest thing about the Wythe Hotel – a place that prides itself on cool – is its sense of place. Read more

Pod 39 Throws Open its Doors with an $85-a-Room “Sample Sale”

On sale, limited time only.

New York is the capital of sample sales for everything from designer T-shirts to sofas, so why not hotels? During early July Pod 39, the new East 39th Street sibling to the original Pod Hotel, aka Pod 51, is offering guests a chance to “sample” the new hotel for $85 a night. Read more

A Night at the Stylish NoMad Hotel

To get straight to the point, the room was delectable. My favorite hotels are ones where you can open the door and slip into a different life. And the life on offer at The NoMad? I felt like I had walked into a fin de siecle Parisian pied-a-terre with contemporary plumbing and a hint of time travel.

A guest room at the NoMad

White walls, black moldings, sash windows swathed in white curtains that kissed the floor – yes, yes, yes. But what pumped the pulse was the claw-footed bathtub parked nonchalantly next to the polished mahogany writing desk. Proust would have felt at home here once he figured out how to work the TV and iHome docking station.

A porter in a Thom Brown-inspired suit, his long hair pulled into a curly topknot, had accompanied me to the room. Though able and willing to carry an overnight bag, I was glad he was there. The room was oddly confusing.

In the entry, painted black and no bigger than a gasp, a stack of leather trunks hid the minibar and safe. The stall shower stood demurely behind a heavy blue brocade screen planted opposite the king-size bed.  On the wall next to the shower a mirror in a gilded frame hung above the washstand.

But where was the toilet? For a heartbeat I wondered if  it was down the hall. (At $325  for anAtelier room, I wasn’t expecting The Pod.) But no. My guide turned a brass knob to open the screen’s cleverly camouflaged door and – voilaa pint-size water closet appeared, with black walls, a dual-flush Geberit toilet and a fetching little sink in the corner.

Long before it opened in late March, the NoMad Hotel beamed out across the radar. There’s the pedigree. The hotel is the first born of the Sydel Group headed by Andrew Zobler, a former partner at Andre Balazs Properties and head of acquisitions for the Starwood Group.

Commandeering the restaurant are chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the team behind Eleven Madison Park.

But the hotel’s appearance, embracing classic decorative flourishes rarely seen in contemporary New York boutique hotels like opulent textiles, oriental rugs and polished mahogany furniture is what makes the NoMad feel original.

Taking their cues from the boisterous elegance of the century-old building’s Beaux Arts exterior,  the developers tapped Jacques Garcia, a French architect and interior designer known for conjuring atmospheric Parisian properties like the Hotel Odeon Saint Germain, and turned him loose on the former office building. The result: a new interior that looks old, or at least old the way 21st-century guests might imagine it. (Anyone who has visited Paris’s Carnavalet Museum knows Proust didn’t sleep in a king-size bed.)

My room, not surprisingly, proved ideal for holing up. The Frette bathrobe was thick and comfy. The pillow-top bed, dressed in crisp Sferra sheets and backed by a handsome brown leather headboard, was the full Goldilocks – not too soft, not too hard. And the reclaimed maple floor, polished to a high-beam gloss? Gorgeous, like the pale Herit rug that warmed it.

Amusing details appeared almost everywhere I gazed — the painted metal waste-basket,  a stylish take on an Edwardian coal bin; the square bedside tables enveloped in black velvet; the shallow polished mahogany bookcase that supported the flatpanel LG TV.

The TV, unfortunately, wasn’t so amusing. I could only get a handful of the channels and nothing of the promised premium. A call to the front desk brought an engineer to my door within ten minutes. He fiddled with the set, said he’d adjust it from a master control, then paid a second visit, all in vain. Long story short: the front desk offered to move me to another room the next day (too bad, I was only there for one night).

So in my Proustian Parisian flat I did low-tech Proustian things. I took a bubble bath gazing out the window (and up at the Empire State Building, its topknot lighted green). I read into the wee hours, curled up in a distressed leather chair straight out of a London supper club. I slept like a log.

And the next morning I ate a big breakfast – an excellent, if pricey, Crab Benedict ($22) with good, strong coffee. In the dining room, another glamorous fabric-swathed lair with chairs upholstered in gold silk brocade, a steel gray sky beamed through the skylight. That channeled Paris, too.

The NoMad Hotel, 1170 Broadway at 28th Street, New York, NY 10001; 212 212 796 1500. Rooms start at $295 (and quickly escalate in price).




A First Look At Conrad New York, A Stylish All Suite Hotel

Walking into the new Conrad New York hotel gave us weird déjà vu.

Greeting us at the top of a wide marble staircase was Sol LeWitt’s towering Loopy Doopy, a feast of purple swirls plotted on a blue grid. But what was it doing on that wall? Read more

A First Look at TRYP New York Times Square South, Stylish, Comfy and New

First, a word about the name. Even with “south” tacked on, associating a hotel on West 35th Street with Times Square is a stretch, especially a hotel situated between 8th and 9th avenues. But once you accept that TRYP is a lot closer to Madison Square Garden and Macy’s than to where the New Year’s Eve ball drops, things get interesting. Read more

A First Look at Hotel Lola, the Latest Occupant of the Martha Washington Building

Lola — the fragrance.

Can a perfume bottle inspire a hotel? The thought never occurred to me until I visited Lola, a sleek new hotel in an old brick and stone building in the East 20s. But oh, those colors. The moody/glam lobby – and guest rooms and website – are ablaze in purple, scarlet, navy and yellow. And so is Lola, the Marc Jacobs fragrance in the whimsical bottle crowned with a plastic flower.  Like the bottle, the hotel has style. Read more

Meet Hotel Americano, a Chic New Hotel Perched Near the High Line

What can a hotel do about a less than perfect location? Wait it out, like Hotel Americano.  Planted on 27th Street way out west between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, this super-chic new boutique is smack in the middle of Chelsea’s art gallery and club scene and a short hop from Chelsea Piers’ sports facilities – an area that’s also bereft of subway stops and frequent bus service.

But in June, the popular High Line extended its elevated reach from 20th to 30nd Street. Read more