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Soho hotel guide: The best places to stay in the area

The Soho hotel scene is booming—recent boutique openings have brought more beds to the sought-after patch.

The Soho hotel migration began back in the ’90s with the opening of the SoHo Grand, followed by The Mercer. The wealth of restaurants and shops in the locale have made it a popular place to stay, and several design hotels, including The James New York and the Mondrian SoHo, have debuted in recent years.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Soho, New York

Crosby Street Hotel

Critics' pick

In 2009, Britain’s hospitality power couple, Tim and Kit Kemp, brought their super-successful Firmdale formula across the Atlantic with the 11-story, warehouse-style Crosby Street Hotel. Design director Kit Kemp’s signature style—a fresh, contemporary take on classic English decor characterized by a sometimes audacious mix of patterns, bold colors and judiciously chosen antiques—is instantly recognizable. Like its British cousins, Crosby Street has a carefully selected art collection, a guests’ drawing room in addition to its public restaurant and bar, a slick, 100-seat screening room and a verdant garden. The latter inspired the bath products’ exclusive scent, created by cult London perfumer Lyn Harris. Rooms 86.

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The James New York

Critics' pick

Art is the new hotel buzzword, but displays are usually limited to some eye-catching lobby installations or forgettable in-room prints. Not so at the James, which maintains a substantial showcase of local talent. The corridor of each guest floor is dedicated to the work of an individual artist, selected by a house curator and complete with museum-style notes—which makes waiting for the elevator a lot less tedious. This is one of many thoughtful touches at the stylish Chicago import. Instead of merely replicating a successful formula, the owners have given the property a distinctly Gotham vibe—even the door staff sports rakish uniforms (designed by NYC-based Brit Andrew Buckler) that look straight out of Gangs of New York. Although compact, bedrooms make the most of the available space with high ceilings, wall-spanning windows, and glassed-off bathrooms (modesty is preserved by an artist-embellished, remote-controlled screen). Natural materials (wooden floors, linen duvet covers) warm up the clean contemporary lines, beds are piled with eco-friendly pillows, and bathroom products are courtesy of Intelligent Nutrients (the organic line created by Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher). Although the attractions of Soho and Tribeca beckon, the hotel offers tempting facilities: a three-level “urban garden,” which houses an outdoor bar and eaterie (one of two restaurants on site), and a rooftop bar that opens onto the (tiny) pool. Rooms: 114.

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The Mercer

Opened in 2001 by trendsetting hotelier André Balazs, Soho’s first luxury boutique hotel still has ample attractions that appeal to a celeb-heavy clientele. The lobby, appointed with oversize white couches and chairs, and shelves lined with colorful books, acts as a bar, library and lounge. The loftlike rooms are large by New York standards and feature furniture by Christian Liaigre, enormous washrooms and Face Stockholm products. The restaurant, the Mercer Kitchen, serves Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s stylish version of casual American cuisine. Secreted two levels down, the Submercer lounge is a stomping ground of elite DJs and their followers. Rooms: 75.

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Mondrian SoHo

Designed by Benjamin Noriega Ortiz, who created cool cribs for Lenny Kravitz and gave the Mondrian Los Angeles a glamorous makeover in 2008, Mondrian SoHo has a distinctly un-Gotham vibe. An ivy-covered passageway leads to the 26-story glass tower, set back from the Crosby Street. Inspired by Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête, Ortiz has created a fanciful interior in which lobby coffee tables have talons and floor lamps are shaded with petite parasols. Trippy, saturated-blue hallways lead to rooms that combine white minimalism with classic elements such as china-blue arabesque-print upholstery and marble-topped vanity sinks that perch outside the bathroom. Floor-to-ceiling windows give rooms on higher floors spectacular vistas, especially in suites, where double banks of glass provide a panoramic sweep. Going one better than Wi-Fi, every room is equipped with an in-room iPad that also connects to hotel services. Carrying on the fantasy theme, the susainable seafood restaurant, Imperial No. Nine, offers seating in an adjacent greenhouse, fitted out with crystal chandeliers, ferns and ficus trees, while the dimly lit, cushion-strewn bar, Mister H, looks like a 1930s Shanghai opium den by way of Casablanca. Rooms: 270.

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60 Thompson

The first property of the nine-hotel-strong boutique chain Thompson Hotel Group remains one of its best. Despite its inauspicious kickoff date of 10 September, 2001, this stylish spot has been luring film, fashion and media elites since it opened. Its expansive second-floor lobby, done up in dark wood, leather and tasteful shades of beige, brown, cream and gray, sets the tone for the rooms, from its modest doubles to its spectacular duplex, the Thompson Loft, which is often booked for photo shoots. A60, the exclusive guests-only rooftop bar with magnificent city views and a Moroccan-inspired decor, is equally photogenic. The modern rooms are dotted with indulgent details like pure down duvets and pillows and Kiehl’s products. The acclaimed restaurant -Kittichai serves creative Thai cuisine beside a pool filled with floating orchids. Rooms 97

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SoHo Grand Hotel

The SoHo Grand, which pioneered the downtown hotel migration in 1996, is fresh from a revamp. The original designer, Bill Sofield, whose subtly sexy, sophisticated style is favored by Tom Ford, recently introduced new custom pieces to the elegant brown-and-beige guest rooms, including travel-trunk-inspired minibars and natty houndstooth tuxedo chairs. Bathrooms feature charming wallpaper by the late illustrator Saul Steinberg, whose work was a longtime staple of The New Yorker, and products by NYC's Malin+Goetz. The pet-friendly property welcomes cats and dogs of all sizes at no extra charge; endearingly, you can request a goldfish for the duration of your stay. Guests can also borrow vintage-inspired bicycles in the warmer months to explore the city; after your exertions, claim a lounger in the hotel's seasonal outdoor bar/eatery The Yard, or hole up with a cocktail by the fireplace in the Club Room, a glamorous new year-round lounge. Rooms: 363.

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