By Terry Trucco
At a glance: When I visited the Quin hotel shortly after it opened in 2013, I came across something I’d never seen. A button on the bedside phone – remember those? – connected you instantly with a personal shopper at Bergdorf-Goodman. If you needed a new nail color or a last-minute Alaia, they’d send one over (the store is steps away).
Though the service is no longer available — the concierge will arrange to have whatever you want at Bergdorf’s sent over, the front desk assured me recently — it still makes a point. Hotels work feverishly to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Nowhere is this more prevalent than among those courting luxury-minded guests.
Strolling through the Quin I was reminded that amenities are like an arms race in the hotel world. The Quin doesn’t have an instantly recognizable history like the Plaza or the St. Regis, but the hotel has succeeded in creating an identity all its own, even if it no longer offers push-button deliveries from Bergdorfs.
The Quin, short for quintessential, looks and feels new but in fact occupies a 1929 building that for 82 years housed the Buckingham Hotel – a humbler property that was no slouch. Perched on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 57th Street, the hotel promoted long-term stays and was a favorite with artists. Georgia O’Keeffe and Marc Chagall were regulars as was Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the pianist — and Polish prime minister — who was a frequent headliner at Carnegie Hall. The hotel was so popular with musicians — Carnegie Hall is down the street — that the Buckingham lobby featured sculptures of musical instruments. But by the time the hotel checked out in 2011, the place was so rundown rooms started at $129, a price you won’t see any time soon.
The renovation took almost two years. Plenty of time, in other words, for designers Perkins-Eastman to construct a fully thought-out persona for a 208-room property.
The look is contemporary. Rooms sport beamed ceilings, a wink at the building’s Jazz Age origins, but the hotel feels airy and sleek. Delicate spiraling curtains that look like spun sugar frame the lobby windows that stretch up two floors, updating the building indoors and out. A white marble floor in the room housing the Consierge feels modern and evokes a sumptuous vintage luxury hotel.
The showpiece is the lobby’s gigantic digital art wall – 13 big screens – created by a different artist each month. This brings us to art, a leitmotif throughout the hotel. The focal point in the urbane guest-only sitting room behind the lobby is an enormous canvas by French street artist Blek le Rat. Art books are stacked in the guest rooms. And everywhere you look – from guest umbrellas and laundry bags to the website homepage – you see the hotel’s signature illustration, the coyly enigmatic face of Quin by Swedish artist Daniel Egneus.
In short, for a hotel with spare lines there’s lots to see.
Bonus: The Quin overlooks Sixth Avenue, making it one of the chicest places to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Book early if you’re interested.
Rooms: The show continued in the corner suite I saw. Dressed in neutral creams and taupe’s with splashes of wood it featured a compact sitting room with a sofa opposite the flatpanel TV, a long desk and a clever desk lamp that looked like two sleek metal rods. A king-size Duxiana bed dressed in white Sferra sheets commanded attention in the adjoining sleep room, big enough to hold a sky blue club chair.
While the bedroom and sitting room weren’t large, the bathroom felt huge. Clad in taupe stone tiles, it featured an enormous marble-lined soaking tub and a generous stall shower with a succulent set on a marble ledge. The toilet stood shielded behind a discreet glass door. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a powder room as you enter the suite.
As I left I decided my favorite amenity was the all details that kept me entertained as I toured the hotel. The best? Hard to choose, but I’ll vote for the leather drawer pulls that evoke luggage handles. But the fanciful flowers in the lobby – big, dramatic and different each time I’ve visited the hotel – are a close second.
Food and drink: Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the Wayfarer, a chic seafood restaurant with curvaceous banquettes and stylish but pricey offerings that opens off the lobby. Expect eye-catching street scene views through the restaurant’s enormous windows.
Surroundings: A super location if you what to be in the thick of things in Midtown. Besides Carnegie Hall, you can walk to Central Park, Fifth Avenue shopping (Bergdorfs, Tiffany, Saks et al), the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, Time Warner Center and restaurants galore. The Theater District is a short hop away. Buses and subway stops are also nearby.
Construction alert: Work is being done to the exterior of the building next door as of September 2019. Ask about noise when you book. And be aware that such of the front of the building is obliterated by a massive if well-built construction apron that blocks some light from the lobby (see photo in our gallery).