By Liz Hatton, New York correspondent
I arrived at the Gansevoort after back-to-back meetings in the Meatpacking District. It had been a long and testing day and I was looking forward to making the most of my room – namely, the bed. I’d already had to push my way through members of the cast of an American TV series out front and packs of Paparazzi in order to check-in and couldn’t stop thinking of warm, milky drinks and soft robes and comfy slippers as I waited for the elevator to take me to my room.
But The Gansevoort had other plans for me; the hotel has a special energy about it and within half an hour the stress and exhaustion of the day seemed to ebb away and I was left eager to join the fun and energetic mid-week partying at the fabulous rooftop bar, with its plethora of beautiful people and spectacular views of the city. Clearly these New Yorkers didn’t have to get up for work in the morning.
After a superb pomegranate martinis and a couple of perfectly mixed margaritas (and having eyed some truly outrageous behaviour for a Wednesday night) I reluctantly made my way back to my room and slept like a baby – I think the cocktails and super-comfy bed had something to do with it. It was a rather fabulous start to my working week: waking up after a long day in the office feeling rested, refreshed and raring to hit the town is a fabulous feeling, made all the better by our super-stylish surroundings.
Hotel Gansevoort is in the Meatpacking District of New York and fits right in with the neighborhood’s cool crowd and fashion and design businesses, although its post-modern tower does jar somewhat with the area’s eclectic architectural mix of loft-style buildings and historic warehouse spaces – the view of the hotel is definitely better from the inside. The area is home to some of the city’s most exclusive restaurants (Pastis, Spice Market, Florent and 5 Ninth), bars and boutiques and, of course, the infamous Soho House. It really doesn’t get much cooler than this. The people, the shops, the hotels, the restaurants and bars… did I mention the people? Everyone you come across oozes effortless style and cool; from the camper-than-camp shop assistants, to the toned-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives waiters/wannabe actors, to the immaculate-yet-dishevelled PR girls in their fabulous/ridiculous shoes.
The hotel staff were no exception to the super-cool rule, and they were gorgeous enough for me to assume they would be filled with ‘Downtown’ attitude. Happily, this is not the case at Hotel Gansevoort and they couldn’t do enough to help. Friendly, efficient and professional – the service is one of the first things you notice about the hotel. Right after you take in the dramatic, shiny zinc-coloured exterior, blue neon and illuminated 10-metre glass columns dominating the lobby packed full of beautiful people – who look like they’ve been carefully placed, just so, by the interior designer. This may be the hippest joint in town but, design-wise, once you leave the public areas, they’ve kept things very understated, using a clever use of textures, materials and fabrics – apart from in the theatrical lobby, of course, with its over-size lights, kooky furniture, 80s pop tunes and graphic-print carpeting.
In the rooms, however, it’s all about blending designs into the background. The rooms themselves are prescriptive, pleasant and a little on the small side – nothing to write home about but nothing to complain about either. Simple, modern furniture with muted, pale colours, dark wood and the requisite plasma screen TV, pride of place and dominating the room (which required a member of their technical staff to turn it on!). The most notable things about the rooms were the backlit wardrobe and bathroom doors, and the original (in both senses of the word) urban artwork – check out the work of local artists displayed on each floor of the hotel. The beds are blissfully comfortable and the 400-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets lulled me into a deep sleep. Sadly, my budget didn’t stretch to the dramatic duplex Penthouse Suite featuring two-storey glass walls with custom-designed furniture and mink throws to keep you toasty while you sip Champagne by the over-sized fireplace – the perfect room for a visiting rock star or A-list celeb, of which Hotel Gansevoort has plenty.
The signature rooftop terrace caused a buzz in this city that’s seen it all. As well as being home to the excellent margaritas we sampled on our first night, it also boasts a 14-metre, heated, outdoor, glass-surrounded swimming pool with underwater music. I was chatting to a fellow guest who said she felt the hotel was completely worth the money for the rooftop pool alone, which is one of just a few in the city. I’m seriously considering checking-in over a weekend just so I can use that pool. The spectacular 360-degree views from the terrace mean you can look down at the once-private goings-on atop the exclusive Soho House nearby. I’d say it was worth the money for that!
In a hotel of this stature, you’d expect to find a spa and a world-class restaurant. And Hotel Ganesvoort doesn’t disappoint. The incredible G Spa on the lower level boasts a trio of infinity-edge hydro soaking pools, three private treatments rooms with a mind boggling array of treatments, and a Hiro Haraguchi hair salon as well as, of course in exercise-obsessed New York, an impressive gym.
Meanwhile, the enormous 300-cover Japanese restaurant, Ono, spans three levels and has a sexy bar attracting a sexy crowd for early evening cocktails. At the grill is Jeffrey Chodorow, serving up traditional and modern Japanese cooking in a sultry, underlit atmosphere. Kobe beef cooked on black stones is a meal stealer, while if you prefer your protein raw, then the sushi is first-class – as is the service. You can say a lot about the service in New York, but one thing that constantly amazes is that the waiting staff really do know the menu they’re serving inside out. European restaurants take note.
Taxis congregate outside the hotel almost 24/7, as do punters desperately trying to get beyond the velvet rope to reach the in-demand roof terrace. It’s worth staying the night just so you can swish past the celebrities queuing patiently outside, wearing their ‘do-you-know-who-I-am?’ faces. Achingly hip and super-cool, book in for a couple of nights to experience the vibe of Manhattan’s most fashionable district – and check out once you’ve run out of fabulous outfits.
Prices start from $435
18 9th Avenue (at 13th Street)
New York. Tel: +1 212 206 6700
Date of review: December 2012
Liz Hatton stayed as a guest of the Gansevoort Hotel