Destination: New York
Located in Manhatttan’s Carnegie Hill neighborhood, Hotel Wales lies a bit north of the Upper East Side’s tonier blocks, though it’s just steps away from the city’s famed Museum Mile. A reliable mid-range option, the property has 88 guest rooms, many of which evoke classic, old-world New York with wood-burning fireplaces and oak furniture; several suites face Central Park. On-site restaurants include Sarabeth’s and the bistro Joanna’s.
When the King of Hip Hotels, Ian Schrager opened the “cheap chic” Hudson Hotel in 2000, it quickly became the place to go if you wanted to rub elbows with NYC’s in-crowd. Though the fanfare and the A-listers have now moved on, many to the Gramercy Park Hotel, Schrager’s more recent venture, the Hudson—now owned by Morgans Hotel Group—remains a top choice for the budget traveler with a heightened sense of style. As is the case with many first-time NYC apartments, rooms are small and the bed height barely reaches knee-level. But you don’t come to the Hudson for comfort—you come for the atmosphere created by Schrager, and his longtime business partner, the design legend Philippe Starck. Nowhere is the cool factor more pronounced than in the hotel’s surreal second-floor Hudson Bar, where the design scheme is part Space Age, part Renaissance. Here, brick columns jut out from an illuminated glass floor; the ceiling is a gigantic psychedelic Franceso Clemente mural and furniture runs the gamut from Droog chairs and intricately-carved Louis XV pieces to a tree log with carefully positioned charibacks. The communal Hudson Cafeteria, run by Jeffrey Chodorow, and the library area are less chaotic but still a study of contrasts. The cafeteria, with its long wooden tables, was partly modeled after an Ivy League dining hall, though you’d be hard-pressed to find any school that commissioned the contemporary photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino to design its stained-glass windows. And in the library, playful black-and-white photographers, also by Jean-Baptiste Mondino (one features a cow wearing a suit), hang beside antique rugs and English leather sofas. Rooms have views of the hotel’s scattered collection of rooftop gardens and courtyards and you can see Central Park from the more spacious penthouse apartments as well as the highly touted outdoor terrace on the fifteenth floor. Interiors have a subtly nautical theme: headboards and chairs are upholstered in a white luggage fabric and the aluminum chairs represent Starck’s modern take of those found on U.S. Navy ships. In 2001, Starck summed the whole hotel experience up for Vogue as follows: “It’s as if you’re a cyberkid and you go on holiday in the house of your English grandmother, who is a little strange because she takes acid.” From $145 (though rates fluctuate daily).
Tip: If the penthouse apartments are booked, opt for a larger suite, some of which have their own gyms.
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