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.
The brick-walled lobby is outfitted with slouchy leather sofas and club chairs but no check-in desk. Instead, guests are met by a staff member wielding an iPad, “like the Apple Store,” says Osama Aduib, High Line General Manager. And a smattering of other hotels, like select members of Hyatt and its Andaz group.
But very soon, the High Line iPads will process credit cards and create keycards – ultra-secure RFI models – on the spot. It’s not even necessary to visit the lobby, Aduib says.
“If you’re running behind schedule and need to get to a meeting, I’ll have someone meet you at the cab in front of the hotel, check you in, swipe your credit card and hand you a key while the bellman gets your bags,” he says. “When you come back in three hours, you can go straight to your room. Your bags will be there. You’re set.”
The technology comes from It Just Works, a Toronto-based company specializing in software for the hospitality industry. The new system uses a 3-G communications network that allows the software to work at considerable distances. “A lot of our clients are doing check-in at the airport while guests are waiting to get in from the shuttle,” says Doug MacRae, IJW CEO.
But the credit card/keymaking options are new, and the High Line is New York’s early adopter. Not bad for a hotel that’s got more in common with Hogwarts than Holiday Inn and occupies a corner of the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea. In a previous life the building housed a dorm and, more recently, the Desmond Tutu Conference Center, an earnest, no-frills hotel operated by the seminary. But that was before the High Line elevated park and neighboring art galleries transformed this quiet neighborhood into a buzzy place. In 2012 the seminary sold the property. And the new High Line Hotel is going for the buzz, instant check-in and all.
High Line Hotel, 180 Tenth Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets; 212 929-3888.