It's the Little Things

Sue Apfelbaum

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A hotel is more than a place to rest your weary head after a long day of business meetings, cultural exploration or shopping. For visitors with discerning tastes, the choice of where to stay is not just about function and convenience but the desire for an experience filled with beauty, comfort and pleasant surprises. Fortunately, there are many exceptional accommodations throughout the City that offer superior hospitality along with elevated design sensibilities for a range of budgets. Look no further than The Design Collection for a selection of properties that go above and beyond the standard fare—where the delight is in the details. From the macro—rare works of art, breathtaking views, rooftop pools—to the micro—gorgeous typography, masterful lighting, pampering products—each of these hotels has something unique to offer. Discover great design at one of these homes away from home. 

Photo: Joe Buglewicz

6 Columbus–a Thompson Hotel
6 Columbus Circle, 212-204-3000, Midtown West, Manhattan
Feel like a guest of Don Draper's at this 1960s-jet-set-inspired, but utterly contemporary, hotel a stone's throw from the posh shopping and dining of the Time Warner Center, the serenity of Central Park and the culture of the Museum of Arts and Design and Lincoln Center. Subtly marked with a sleek slanted “6” on its awning, the 88-room property looks and feels more like an exclusive residence than a hotel, with its home-away-from-home ambience. Designer Steven Sclaroff's mid-century modern furnishings lend functional elegance to each of the hotel's spacious rooms. All feature walnut furniture, including Art Deco armoires with black-and-white lacquered doors, and studio kings have homages to the Nelson bench and Knoll Saarinen table. Teak paneling forms a wall-size headboard behind each bed (swathed in Sferra linens) with built-in magazine racks on either side. Vintage shots by fashion photographer Guy Bourdin add to the seductive vibe. Note the round illuminated mirrors and vertical subway tiles in the bathrooms, which are also outfitted with REN products. With a Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Grill on the first floor and an intimate, not-sceney rooftop lounge, you might not venture far.

Photo: Joe Buglewicz

Dream Downtown
355 W. 16th St., 212-229-2559, Chelsea, Manhattan
Dream Downtown's porthole windows, a delightful remnant of the building's past life as home of the National Maritime Union, form a unifying theme throughout this flagship property for hotelier Vikram Chatwal's boutique chain. Spherical lighting, circular-patterned upholstery and round fur-lined ottomans are just a few of the hotel's curvy features. Cutout, bubble-like peekaboo windows on the ceiling of the lobby give guests a glance at swimmers overhead in the heated lap pool, open year-round, one flight up. Considering the clubby draw of this Dream location—the indoor-outdoor rooftop bar, PH-D, is a popular hotspot, while the subterranean, Brit-rock–themed Electric Room is even more exclusive—guest rooms are decidedly serene. No music is playing when you walk in, and patchwork Persian rugs lend a homespun warmth to the uber-cool surroundings. Artwork throughout the hotel is curated by Indiewalls, giving exposure to local artists, and is available for sale, too. All guests can enjoy the lobby-level Marble Lane steakhouse and bar—serving breakfast, lunch and dinner—and the new Japanese-French-fusion restaurant Cherry, with an opulent dining room designed by Studio Gaia.

Photo: Joe Buglewicz

Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC 
18 Ninth Ave., 212-206-6700, Meatpacking District, Manhattan
Stepping out in the Meatpacking District today, it's easy to forget how the now-fashionable neighborhood earned its moniker. When the Hotel Gansevoort opened on the site of a former parking lot in 2003, it paved the way so that even the Whitney Museum of American Art, which will reopen in 2015 just one block west, would deem it desirable. Overlooking the cobblestoned section of lower Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street, the hotel anchors the area with its urban-resort aesthetic. Although known for its rooftop pool parties in the summer, the Hotel Gansevoort has recently given its lobby a more down-to-earth vibe, cozying up its lounge with leather chairs, a billiard table and an oyster bar. For a little spice, Asian-fusion restaurant TOY features aerial contortionists four nights a week. Each guest room features a site-specific image by photographer Deborah Anderson, who shot models in the very rooms where her images appear. All standard suites have Juliet balconies, and Hudson River–facing rooms have bay windows that open up (a plus now that the streets don't smell of rancid meat). And of course there's the famous roof deck, which wraps around the building for 360-degree views, and its year-round heated outdoor pool.

Photo: Joe Buglewicz

Smyth Tribeca–a Thompson Hotel
85 West Broadway, 212-587-7000, TriBeCa, Manhattan
Pronounced “Smith” but spelled with a “y”—a visual reference to its location at the intersection where West Broadway and Hudson Street divide—the Smyth Tribeca has all the charms of home, albeit an impeccably curated one. The inviting, playful and sophisticated atmosphere is conveyed through Yabu Pushelberg's design choices. On the lobby level, you'll discover glass cabinets filled with vintage alarm clocks and metal wind-up toys, as well as salon-inspired nooks conducive to reading during the day and socializing at night. The 100 guest rooms are bright and warm, with walnut wood and chrome details, as well as rain showerheads in every bathroom. The inclusion of Kiehl's bath products and Dean & DeLuca snacks in the minibar are thoughtful and delightful nods to fellow downtown New York purveyors. For those with Kardashian-size budgets and parties, the penthouse suite, where the reality show Kourtney & Kim Take New York was set, offers walls of windows, a private terrace and a Danish Modern dining room table perfect for private dining or conferencing.

W Times Square. Photo: Joe Buglewicz

W New York
541 Lexington Ave., 212-755-1200, Midtown East, Manhattan
W New York – Times Square
1567 Broadway, 212-930-7400, Times Square, Manhattan
W New York – Downtown
123 Washington St., 646-826-8600, Financial District, Manhattan
The W Hotel story began in December 1998 with the debut of its Lexington Avenue and East 49th Street location in Manhattan, and today the boutique chain has properties around the world. Although it may be the oldest of the group, the original W New York still has a youthful spirit, with its welcoming Living Room, its Heartbeat restaurant and its on-site Bliss Spa. The W in Times Square provides both an escape from and bird's-eye view of its electrifying surroundings. From the waterfalls at the street-level entrance to the pulsating beats in its seventh-floor lobby lounge, the Times Square hotel features notable details, such as Flip, a painting by American photorealist Eric Zener, by the guest-only elevator banks. The newest W New York is downtown, just south of the former World Trade Center site. It launched in 2011 as part of the revitalization that is taking place in the area, affirmed by the soaring heights of the new 1 World Trade Center and the opening of the 9/11 Memorial. A spectacular light installation by Bruce Munro in the entrance is composed of 1,200 glass teardrop lights, an elegant and poignant detail. The hotel also takes full advantage of its views with built-in window seats in every room.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Chambers Hotel
15 W. 56th St., 212-974-5656, Midtown West, Manhattan
From exposed elevator shafts to room numbers located at toe level, your powers of observation will be rewarded at every turn at the Rockwell Group–designed Chambers Hotel. Enter through latticed walnut-wood doors into the soaring bilevel lobby, where two anthracite coal tables by Jim Zivic sit before a glass fireplace. Meander to the mezzanine and see Kiki Seror's light-box piece inspired by online chat rooms (pictured) and Mie Yim's five-panel Pastel on Board, a piece so intriguing it was lifted by an art thief who also had a penchant for Picassos (but was later recovered). Flip through a curated selection of books ranging from the history of Dior to a classic Blanche Fisher Wright–illustrated edition of Mother Goose. Hospitality is as much of an art form as the intriguing collection housed throughout the intimate 77-room property. Don't be surprised when the friendly staff remembers your name or hands you a blue-glass bottle of water without prompting. 

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Le Parker Meridien New York
119 W. 56th St., 212-245-5000, Midtown West, Manhattan
Le Parker Meridien opened in 1981, and many of its design elements date back to 1998, but it's a testament to designer Colum McCartan's immaculate taste and iterative updates that it feels so contemporary today. A dazzling spin painting by Damien Hirst greets you in the majestic colonnaded lobby. Guest rooms are gorgeously appointed with an updated mid-century appeal—luxurious Scandinavian-inspired beds, warm cherrywood furnishings, desks with Aeron chairs. Even the minimally designed Peter Thomas Roth bath products match nicely with Parker Meridien's branding, designed by Pentagram New York using the typeface Gill Sans Light. The rooftop pool is a thing of beauty, with its wall of windows looking out on spectacular Central Park views. Conveniences abound, too: Sharps offers a classic barbershop experience (pictured), while the Underground features a DryBar for blowouts, Tenoverten nail salon, and Moonshine spa. Feel free to use the Jesse Owens mural on the way to Gravity Fitness as motivation for your workout. 

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Gansevoort Park Avenue
420 Park Ave. South, 212-317-2900, Flatiron District, Manhattan
Decked out in an aubergine and slate gray palette inside and out, the Gansevoort Park Avenue has a sensual elegance unique to this the newest property in the Gansevoort family. Designed by architecture/interior design power couple Stephen Jacobs and Andi Pepper, the hotel has a seductive vibe that's also established by Deborah Anderson's photography located throughout—although rooms booked by families will see her images of Central Park instead, as each frame flips over to reveal a less sensuous side. Other thoughtful details include Juliet balconies, JBL speakers and complimentary wireless. The Gansevoort logotype, like the hotel's name, is of Dutch origin and is a lovely accent used tastefully throughout the hotel. You'll find it engraved on the edges of the fabulous year-round inside/outside heated pool and in the form of a “G” tattoo on the ankle of the pool's mosaic-tile pinup girl—modified from a 1940s original design by the artist Peter Driben. 

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Eventi, A Kimpton Hotel
851 Sixth Ave., 212-564-4567, Chelsea, Manhattan
First impressions of the Eventi could easily be informed by its highly visible public spaces—the outdoor courtyard and 30-by-16-foot LED screen that streams artist videos and sports, perhaps, or the street-level arcade of eateries—but step inside and experience an elegance that's far more sophisticated than outward appearances would imply. Fun, yet understated design details abound—note the lobby's peek-a-boo painting behind the reception desk and the curiosity cabinet, which hotel designer Colum McCartan installed in collaboration with diorama-artist Lori Nix. Artwork by Barbara Nessim lends charm to each of this Kimpton hotel's 292 guest rooms and meeting spaces. Light—of the natural and artificial varieties—also plays a prominent role, with floor-to-ceiling windows in all rooms and more kinds of lighting fixtures than you could count. The fifth-floor Veranda deck provides a peaceful outdoor space where guests can enjoy daily wine receptions and views of the Freedom Tower.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Gild Hall–a Thompson Hotel
15 Gold St., 212-232-7700, Financial District, Manhattan
A hidden gem on Gold Street between William and Pratt Streets in the Financial District, the Thompson group's Gild Hall is both rustic and refined, nodding ever so slightly to the economic epicenter of its locale while taking a fresh and unpretentious approach toward design and hospitality. The lobby conveys instant warmth with its use of reclaimed wood from a farmhouse in upstate New York and its inviting leather couches, while the hallways and rooms impart the cool old-Hollywood glamour of Slim Aarons' photography. Designer Jim Walrod took inspiration from the mid-century furnishings of Jacques Adnet for the House of Hermès—note the strap-hung mirrors, as well as the ornately patterned wallpaper designs. Additional details include glass-tiled bathrooms, C.O. Bigelow products, quilted leather headboards, tartan throws and hardwood floors. Off the lobby, Tuscan wine bar and restaurant Felice and La Soffitta lounge on the mezzanine, both designed by Robert McKinley, add to the modern-vintage appeal.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

The James New York
27 Grand St., 212-465-2000, SoHo, Manhattan
The James cuts a dramatic figure from its SoHo perch, from the concrete halo that shelters its plunge pool on the roof, down to its garden oasis, whose lush foliage spills over its walls like grass emerging from pavement, hinting at the splendor within. Designed by ODA Architecture and Perkins Eastman Architects, the 17-story concrete-and-glass structure is bright and airy, with playful touches throughout. The wraparound, cantilevered Sky Lobby is reminiscent of the Colorado house made famous in Woody Allen's 1973 movie Sleeper, with its curved glass-walled facade. Inside it's a welcoming sight, too, with luminous bubble chandeliers by Lindsey Adelman and plush linen-white decor. Off the foyer, Sarah Frost's abstract QWERTY art reuses keyboard keys cleverly. John-Paul Philippé's Art Nouveau–style numbering marks each room, which are light and minimally decorated, with glass bathrooms that can be made private with a screen designed by Dutch artist Nienke Sybrandy. Other treats include a mini bar stocked with Dean & Deluca snacks and small-batch Hudson Whiskey.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

W Hotel Union Square
201 Park Ave. South, 212-253-9119¸ Union Square, Manhattan
New meets old in this landmark Beaux Arts building, originally constructed in 1911, on the northeast corner of Union Square. Classic details such as colossal marble columns, high ceilings and decorative moldings remain intact, while modern lighting and high-tech wiring bring this W property into the present. All the corridors and 272 guest rooms have recently been remodeled and refreshed with a bold, primary-color palette and thoughtful details, including headboards with abstract relief maps of the City's grid. Handmade Indian carpets play off the hotel's design theme of juxtapositions and the notion that opposites attract by mixing neoclassical motifs with clean, minimal textures. Some rooms feature Kartell lamps and all include bath products by Bliss. 

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Dream New York
210 W. 55th St., 212-247-2000, Midtown West, Manhattan
Vikram Chatwal's Dream hotels aspire to provide “surreal luxury,” and the concept of dreamscapes plays out with curious non sequiturs throughout its Midtown Manhattan property. The lobby features a two-story saltwater aquarium that drops through the floor to the lower level, as well as a chin-scratching sculpture of Catherine the Great flanked by Neptune and the Madonna and baby. The language of dreams is interpreted through light-box art on each of the 13 floors (the Dream doesn't skip from 12 to 14, ignoring superstitious numerological nonsense). Rooms are minimally designed, with feather beds for optimal rest and optional blue lighting to set a mystical mood. The popular AVA Lounge is a penthouse and rooftop bar overlooking Times Square. On the ground floor, The Bar at the Dream has a down-to-earth vibe and DJs on most nights. The adjoining Serafina Dreams' Restaurant, designed by Rockwell Group, provides room service until 11pm daily. 


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