Travel Smart:
New York’s Sexiest New Hotel

Gourmet’s travel editor, who has seen the inside of more deluxe suites than Sealy Posturpedic, falls for Crosby Street.
crosby street hotel


New York’s Standard has garnered a lot of publicity by encouraging guests to “perform” in front of floor-to-ceiling windows for the benefits of people strolling on the High Line park, which runs underneath the hotel. Talk about making a scene. But there’s a new hotel, opening downtown on Tuesday (September 29), that’s about to steal the limelight without resorting to tawdry tricks. Crosby Street, on the SoHo street of the same name, will do it with sheer good taste. Like The Standard, Crosby Street is part of an existing chain, in this case, Firmdale Hotels, whose six other properties, all in London, have an avid following of transatlantic types from New York and Hollywood. But that’s where all similarities end.

On a tour of the new hotel last week, I was surprised to run into Kit Kemp, Firmdale’s co-owner (with her husband, Tim) and designer, fresh off the plane from London. But I wasn’t phased in the least to see the same wildly extravagant flourishes (a super-scaled birdcage chandelier low enough to meet a six-footer’s head, Indian mirrors enclosed in hanging shutters, bureaus with faux-ivory-and-glass inlay) and the palette of rich fabrics, patterns, and colors that are her trademark. What did bowl me over, though, was the size of the guestrooms—even the smallest have king beds and generous sitting areas—very high windows, and, the most eye-popping element of all, enormous casement-style windows with more glass than wall—a billboard of views for every guest, from downtown streetscapes to sweeping panoramas across the lower Manhattan skyline. In the hotel’s basement is a screening room, one of Firmdale’s signature touches and a further clue to the type of crowd the hotel expects to attract. Bar Crosby will serve food in a casual, club-like atmosphere. As for top restaurants, Balthazar and the Savoy are just a half-block away.

Expect dazzling reviews, rooms starting at $525, and windows designed to put on a show for guests, not for voyeurs on the street.

Here’s what else is new and exciting in New York:

The Surrey
Getting rid of some starch and stuffing, this Upper East Side dowager has undergone a $60 million renovation, installed a few pieces of arresting modern art, juxtaposed Beaux Art architecture with 21st Century furnishings, added a proper hotel bar (Bar Pleiades), landscaped a fantastic roof garden, and emerged as a very stylish divorcée. Interior designer Lauren Pollet called upon the black, white, quilting, and pearl inspiration of Coco Chanel for the 190 “salons” and 32 suites, and Our Lady of Chic would be very happy reclining in any of them. Especially with room service from Café Boulud (also recently revamped) downstairs. From $579.

The Mark
Closed for a few years, this elegant gem on the Upper East Side, is back, now with a mix of condos and hotels rooms. Although the hotel has been opening in stages, a full-tilt debut is coming this fall. Also on the way: a new restaurant (and that means room service) from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. From $733.

The Greenwich
This year-old hotel in Tribeca, from Robert de Niro and designer David Rockwell, has a similarly high level of taste and craftsmanship (oh, those gorgeous handmade tiles in the bathrooms), but its décor is more of a modern riff on La Bella Italia—gorgeous but not quite in the “crazy original” category. The in-house restaurant, Locanda Verde, is a proven winner. From $475.

The Pierre
The venerable tower on East 61st and Central Park has been taken over by India’s Taj group and, next month, will house a branch of one of London’s ultra-chic Le Caprice restaurant. From $895.

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