Crosby Street Hotel
79 Crosby St., New York; 212-226-6400; www.crosbystreethotel.com . 86 rooms from $522.
'Are you with the Saatchi group?"
I'm not sure if the concierge means art collectors or advertising execs, but it hardly matters. From the 10-foot steel sculpture of a human head in the lobby to the Bakelite telephones on the wall of the restaurant, this new hotel in SoHo is clearly aimed at "creatives." Or at least moneyed clients who appreciate their taste. You're as likely to bump into today's Don Draper as a Texan socialite in New York to do some shopping.
Design Actually, given his distaste for his British bosses, Don Draper might not approve. The first American outpost of Firmdale, a London chain of boutique hotels, the hotel sports a decidedly English sensibility.
Created by Kit Kemp, who owns Firmdale with her husband, Tim, the decor includes whimsical art (papier mâché dogs), bold furniture (poppy-patterned armchairs) and brave colours. But eye-popping art in the lobby is balanced by warm wood and airy windows. And while the drawing room is jammed with collectibles, huge couches invite lingering.
The amenities This is sort of place where Jade Jagger might come to cut a deal: One meeting room has Popsicle-orange wallpaper and a giant sun-splash sculpture on the wall. There's a screening room, too, with 99 orange leather seats. Video conferencing and Macs are also available.
The room The views through the floor-to-ceiling windows will remind you you're in New York. You may even see Kelly Ripa come out of her apartment down the street. But you'll do a double take at the size of the standard rooms: Mine held a giant bed with a bold fabric headboard, a sleek writing desk, two armchairs, a footstool and dresser. The marble bathrooms feature his and hers sinks and a roomy shower.
As in the rest of the hotel, the colours are vivid (from charcoals to hat-box lime), and each room has arty wall hangings and a dressmaker's dummy (a Kemp signature).
The details are pure luxury. The radio is a Tivoli. The toiletries are a special blend by British perfumer Lyn Harris. In the minibar, you'll find Veuve and Vosges chocolates.
Service So my phone didn't work. And the champagne left in my room one night was for a Mr. and Mrs. L. (sadly, they didn't want to share). But glitches were swiftly fixed. And while the concierges can book you a $250 ride to the airport or seats on Broadway, no one scoffed when I asked for directions to J. Crew or a subway route to Brooklyn. In fact, two days later, a concierge saw me in the lobby and shouted, "How was Williamsburg?" Staff are responsive and friendly without a hint of snobbery – you can't ask for more.
Food and drink Is there substance to all this style? A hotel's eggs tell all – and the creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon deliver.
The breakfast buffet ($21 to $37) adds plump prunes and gluten-free muffins that actually taste good. The lunch menu has fine American fare like (gulp) $21 mac and cheese. Plus there's high tea ($36). Competition is fierce, though, with Daniel Boulud's casual DBGB a 15-minute walk away.
Verdict The essence of high-end SoHo. Swoon over the decor, steal the toiletries and spend hours over breakfast.