Thursday, April 05, 2007

NYC: The Hotel ...

I'm a hotel snob and proud of it. I'm not a five-star hotel snob. I don't refuse to step foot into a hotel if it's next to an Interstate or if the room doors are visible from the parking lot. My first requirement is that my room is impeccably clean. Beyond that, I'm flexible. Sometimes, serviceable is satisfactory. But sometimes, a girl needs more.

And I found it.

Mies van der Rohe never had the chance to stay at The Bowery Hotel, but like the man said, "God is in the details."

But for a couple billing snafus, the experience was seamless. Charming.

The steel and glass canopy (which sounds modern and industrial but isn't) welcomes guests without a word. I like it. It's like a secret club, and only members know the entrance exists.

Saturday, the day I arrived, was breezy and sunny. The lobby of the hotel is quiet and dark. The front desk is beautiful, as is the furniture behind it, a wall of cubbies for the room keys. The room keys are magnetic and programmable, but keys nonetheless. And they are attached to gigantic burgundy and gold tassels. If you're thinking, "Well, that's a hassle to stuff in your pocket," worry not. You leave the key at the front desk when heading out for the day, pick it up when you return.

Upon signing in (and resolving the issue of the rate), the challenge became to find a room. After checking my bag and taking a seat in the lobby, the beautifully furnished lobby, rich with rugs and embroidered draperies and upholstered antiques and huge floor palms and a fireplace and a bookcase full of books you'd actually want to read, a member of the staff appeared and offered to buy me a drink, to apologize for the inconvenience.

Yes, thank you. Vodka solves just about everything.

With a room arranged, and my betassled key in hand (and a Bowery Hotel business card with my room number written on the back; clever idea), I headed to the elevators through a short, tiled hallway. Carved dark wood, more subdued lighting. The lighting is so flattering everywhere, it may be impossible not to look beautiful in this hotel.

My room was tucked away in a corner of the fifth floor. The hallway smelled new, like fresh carpet and paint. Not overwhelmingly so, but pleasantly. New hotel smell.

From the dimmish light of the hallway, I opened my room's door to a small entryway and admired the hardwood floors. Hardwood floors. In a hotel room. Except in the bathroom, whose floor is clad in marble and whose walls are clad in gleaming white subway tile with a small green accent tile stripe toward the top of the room. The hardware of the bathroom is heavy, old-looking brass. The showerhead, tucked behind a wall of glass, not a shower door, comes directly out of the ceiling to bathe you in rain. The towels are plentiful and fluffy. The bathrobes are thick and heavy, "The Bowery" embroidered at the chest. Bigelow soaps and lotions and gels and shampoos and conditioners await along with a loofah mitt and cotton swabs (individually wrapped cotton swabs) and toothpaste. Details, details, and more details.

Built into the entryway is a wall of doors lined with shirred, striped fabric. Behind the first, a closet (with lovely wooden hangars on an actual closet pole), a small ironing board, iron, and full-size blowdryer. The iron and the blowdryer have retractable cords. Tidy.

Behind the next door, a series of shelves for sweaters and things that should not or do not hang.

And behind the third door, the mini bar, both with a small wine fridge for beverages and an array of other liquors and must-haves up top. No Jack Daniels here. Bombay Sapphire and Grand Marnier and Patron and lovely bottles of vodka, the brand of which I've forgotten. Though, of course, if you want Jack, I'm sure you can get it in the beautiful bar off the lobby.

Through the doorway into the actual room, a doorway adorned with a bit of stained glass overhead, the floor is mostly covered by a large, beautiful carpet. Whether antique or made to look well worn, it is a lovely contrast to the dark hardwood floors.

The bed, dressed in Turkish linens (according to the hotel's web site), is a dark hardwood base with a perfect mattress on top, not too hard, not too soft. A lush down duvet rests inside a lovely duvet cover, embroidered to match the bathrobes. And the blanket, folded across the foot of the bed, is printed with the name of the hotel as well.

It's impossible to forget where you're staying, as the name of the hotel appears throughout the room, but in subtle ways, like on the wall sconces flanking the large mirror over a long, narrow table on which sits a flat-panel television with integrated DVD player. (The literature in the room reveals that the hotel has a library of DVDs for the guests.) A stool is tucked underneath this glass-topped console if you'd like to sit in the natural light of the floor-to-ceiling windows to apply your makeup.

If you need a cordless phone, it's there. Though your typical hotel phone is on the bedside table, in front of a bank of switches to control various things in the room, including recessed lighting, tucked from view over the bed, if you'd just like a little bit of mood.

On the other bedside table, in front of another bank of switches to control even more things, is an iPod stereo, iPod not included. But as I don't travel without mine, I was able to listen to anything in my iTunes library as I went to bed or while I got ready in the morning.

The chairs and table in front of the wall of windows are the perfect scale for the room. Even the wands to pull the draperies open and closed are pretty, not those ugly plastic sticks. And by the way, if you like your room really, really dark, there's a blackout shade that can be pulled down to cover the entire wall of windows, which are not typical hotel windows but a grid of black steel and glass. I never used the shade. The sheers and blackout drapes made the room plenty dark for me.

Suffice it to say, I was charmed beyond charmed. I adore this hotel. The staff is friendly and attentive. The location is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Midtown, yet very near many subway lines and it takes approximately a half a second to get a cab. SoHo is steps away. The Empire State Building is in easy view. Five Points Restaurant is just around the corner, so named for the area of New York that was the subject of "Gangs of New York." And another great restaurant, Cafe Bianco, is just around another. But I'll write about food tomorrow.

With my hotel snobbishness, I've always thought it would be fun to travel to hotels and write accounts of my stays for the owners of the properties. I once had a bad experience at a Ritz-Carlton and was quick to write to the management and let them know.

Eric Goode, the hotelier of The Bowery and other properties, along with his partner, Sean MacPherson, included a letter in the room's literature, asking for comments about the hotel experience. (It opened on Valentine's Day; it's very, very new.) I look forward to writing to them.

Or I can send them this URL.


Anonymous girl and dog said...

It sounds divine, and you really made me want to go based on your description! I think you SHOULD send them your URL. Who knows, you might get a free night out of it! ;)

9:18 AM  

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