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New Boutique Hotels in New York are a Draw Just to Say You've Stayed There

By Debra D. Bass, St. Louis Post-DispatchMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 27,2011--New York may be the city that never sleeps, but hotel accommodations never cease to be a hot topic of conversation. Among the new crop of Manhattan's boutique-chic guest quarters, many are so innovative and picturesque that they are well worth a visit even if you're staying at another venue.

A posh hotel bar or restaurant is a great way to start the evening whether you're heading off to enjoy the neon of Times Square, a performance at Lincoln Center, theater on Broadway or recovering from soaking up a barrage of museum exhibits, shopping along Madison and Fifth avenues or trekking through SoHo.

Hotel-envy is a frequent topic of conversation, even at glam events like New York Fashion Week, where visitors are just as prone to name-drop which designer they are wearing as they are which hotel and neighborhood they are calling home for the trip.

Newer hotels cropping up around Manhattan are a draw just to say that you've stayed there. Everyone loves to be in the know. So if you're planning a trip, here are some worthy places to stay if you want to hang with the in-crowd. And if you can book early, you'll find that the prices are pretty reasonable.

If you want to maximize your stay, always ask for a higher floor and a room with a view of the city. But don't be surprised if the city that never sleeps is a little noisy at night.


20 West 29th Street (at Broadway); 1-212-679-2222;

Location -- Midtown near the theater district

The hotel -- This 12-story hotel is designed to make you feel like you are crashing at your hipster friend's small Manhattan apartment for a few nights. Some of the rooms even have a full-size retro refrigerator. There are also record players, albums and ubiquitous hipster items like a guitar resting in the corner of the room (if you're out of practice, extra strings are available at the front desk). Each room has its own personality. There's chalkboard paint on the walls as well as painting and murals by emerging artists in each room.

Rooms -- Moderate to expensive. Looking at a few random dates in April, prices ranged from $179 to $859 a night for 11 room sizes ranging from a 140-200 square foot space with twin bunk beds to a 700-square-foot loft space with a cafe kitchen table, clawfoot tub and king-size bed. A two-bedroom suite is also available.

Nearby attractions -- Times Square, Macy's, Broadway theaters, Tin Pan Alley, Madison Square Garden.

Amenities -- Free Wi-Fi, gym, bar scene often includes guest DJs, pet-friendly and -- this should not be taken lightly -- the hotel shops are first-class. Ace has two boutiques, Opening Ceremony and No. 8a, which are both so well-curated with international travel items, stylish New York souvenirs and edgy apparel, you'll want to visit them even if you aren't staying at the hotel.


848 Washington Street (near 12th Street); 1-877-550-4646;

Location -- Meatpacking district

The hotel -- This hotel, an Andre Balazs property, is a true tourist attraction, and its decor and design would scream, "this is where the beautiful people come," if it weren't too hip to brag. The interiors riff off of mid-century modern decor in clever space-conscious ways. If the price of the room seems expensive, it seems apt once you're on the inside looking out.

Rooms -- The 337 rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, available in nine styles, range from a 250-square-foot queen-size bedroom for $295 to the $1,800 Empire suite with a king bed, 875 square feet of living space, a double shower, exposed open bathtub with "insane views" (according to the Standard's website), gigantic couch and two 42-inch flat screen TVs.

Nearby attractions -- The High Line park, Hudson River and a plethora of uber-hip Meatpacking district clothing boutiques and eateries.

Amenities -- There's a glass-walled gym and free Wi-Fi, but the real attractions on site include the gloriously appointed and notoriously exclusive Boom Boom Room night club (also known as Top of The Standard) and the newer Le Bain (imagine rooftop hot tubs, pools, DJs, dancing and under-the-radar celebrities). The hotel also has an interesting list of special events; recently Ted Danson stopped by to discuss the book he co-authored with Michael D. Orso, "Oceana." And the hotel's gift shop is among the few to offer signed limited-edition art prints from gallery events held on the premises.


152 West 26th Street (at Seventh Avenue also know as Fashion Avenue); 1-212-858-5888;

Location -- Garment District

The hotel -- The 22-story, 280-room hotel opened in 2010 in one of the few Manhattan areas lacking luxe accommodations. The lobby pays homage to the Garment District and the nearby Fashion Institute of Technology with artwork and photography highlighting the history of the garment industry. The front desk is designed to invoke the impression of a fashion studio's cutting room table, complete with the type of iron legs ubiquitous on vintage sewing tables.

Rooms -- This boutique-style hotel works hard not to look like a chain hotel. It has four room configurations, from $203 to $514, including a standard queen bedroom, a queen room with accommodations for guests that adheres to the Americans with Disability Act, two double beds or a king bed. The largest rooms peak at around 300 square feet, so all the spaces are modest in size but stylishly decked out with decor reminiscent of tailored men's suiting: think leather shoes, pinstriped suits and polka dot pocket squares.

Amenities -- 24-hour gym, computers and printers in the lobby; free Wi-Fi; a bi-level Rare Bar and Grill restaurant with rooftop bar and lounge serving delicacies like frickles (fried pickles), the much-discussed and debated deep-fried Oreos and dauntingly decadent steaks and burgers.

Nearby attractions -- Garment District (one-third of all clothing designed in the United States takes place within one square mile of this neighborhood), designer outlets stores, the Empire State Building, Herald Square, Macy's flagship store and Fashion Institute of Technology.


125 West 45th Street (near Sixth Avenue); 1-212-354-2323;

Location -- Theater District

The hotel -- After a few incarnations, this cozy hotel has shed its past as an office building. Known for chic economies, the hotel's centerpiece is a 22-foot, heated pool with a swim-up bar that sits just past the modest front desk and streamlined gift shop kiosk, which includes the items from the minibar that the rooms don't have. The bar is a vibrant night spot with live DJs on most nights.

Rooms -- Ranging from modest to closet-size, the rooms are deceptively decked out to appear larger. Items are mounted on walls or appear to be floating rather than occupying prime floor space. There's room to store your suitcase under the platform bed, but it takes a little time to learn to maneuver in the small space. Four room configurations are available among the 139 guest rooms, including a room with four bunk beds, two twin beds, a king or queen bed. Though cramped by most standards, the rooms have a luxe, contemporary look and the beds (the most important items in the room) are extremely comfortable. All rooms have pillow-top mattresses, Egyptian cotton linens, down comforters and feather down pillows, if you go for that type of thing. Prices are $264-$354 with early booking discounts of up to 45 percent off.

Amenities -- Complimentary breakfast buffet until noon in the mezzanine level overlooking the pool, a tiny gym with only a few pieces of equipment, mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi, free local calls (which comes in handy because there's a binder of delivery menus in every room to make up for the lack of a hotel restaurant) and 24-hour access to the shallow indoor pool, sauna and steam room.

Nearby attractions -- Bryant Park, Restaurant Row, Broadway Theaters, Times Square, Madison Avenue shopping district.


2178 Broadway (at 77th Street); 1-212-362-1100;

Location -- Upper West Side

The hotel -- Two shared balconies on the 14th and 16th floors for all guests offer satisfyingly stellar views of a great city. This makes up for the fact that some rooms have the typical New York view of a brick wall. Instead of the hipster DJs employed by other hotels, this one has an in-house pianist.

Rooms -- Ranging from a 240-square-foot standard to 340-square-foot deluxe with a love seat, the decor is simple and leans upscale but not stuffy. If you're looking to splurge, more than 20 penthouse suites feature a Manhattan hotel rarity: private, furnished balcony overlooking the city. Sample room rates are $101 for a standard to $371 for a penthouse (book early).

Amenities -- Gym, Internet access (in-room with a fee), babysitting, ergonomic Herman Miller desk chairs, business center in lobby with computers, printer and free Wi-Fi, pets allowed.

Nearby attractions -- Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Hayden Planetarium, Beacon Theatre, Carnegie Hall, Children's Museum of Manhattan.


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Copyright (c) 2011, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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