The location alone is worth the visit: Set on Lexington Avenue and 21st Street, overlooking the private, gated, “I’ve always wanted to go in there but it’s always so damn locked,” Gramercy Park. Built in 1925, the bohemian-style Gramercy Park Hotel was taken over by famed real estate tycoon and art collector Aby Rosen in 2004, who closed it for two years to renovate with celebrated artist Julian Schnabel heading the design efforts. The result? A visually stunning beaut that drips with style, exuberance, and one of the chillest vibes you’ll get from any hotel in the city.
The concrete exterior welcomes you through custom bronze arched doors with clear beveled glass and cast bronze handles—just in case you miss the huge bronze revolving door. The lobby’s second floor was taken out to accommodate the 20-foot ceilings fitted with wood columns, while smack dab in the center sits a massive hand-blown glass chandelier. The space is adorned with a wood-burning, nine-foot high fireplace; black and white tiled floor; brown leather chairs and red velvet sofas; maroon curtains, and artwork from the likes of Schnabel, Damien Hirst and Botero (from Rosen’s personal collection). Across from the two lobby bars is the hotel restaurant, Maialino, the beloved Danny Meyers’ critically-acclaimed Italian trattoria that can be seen aglow outside from the street-level. The hotspot is always bustling with patrons dining on things like braised suckling pig, salt-baked sea bass, or squid ink pasta with crab, Calabrese chili and basil. Hungry yet?
What gives the hotel and its rooms such character are the custom-made, vintage-inspired fixtures that also bring a sense of modernity: velvet drapery on custom bronze rods and mahogany wooden blinds, handmade embroidered tapestry chairs, an English drinking cabinet with a flip-down mirrored lit bar top, Bluetooth-enabled Marshall speakers, just to name a few. The dark wood floors and rich, vibrant colors give the rooms a very comfortable feel. And if you do have the time, take a tour of the artwork on the terrace, an indoor-outdoor event floor which also houses more art. Andy Warhols, Richard Prince photographs, a Hirst lightbulb installation, and many other pieces give the terrace an extra element in addition to the beautiful rooftop space. Remember the “I’ve always wanted to go in there but it’s always so damn locked” Gramercy Park across the street? All guests are given exclusive access to the park so you have the pleasure to wander around within its gates.
The Gramercy Park Hotel sits on the northern part of the Gramercy/Union Square area and right on the lower edge of “Little India,” a section of blocks on Lexington in the 20s that is loaded with authentic Indian restaurants. Two blocks from the 6 train at 23rd Street and Park Avenue, the hotel is a short walk from the Union Square subway hub where you’ll find the 4, 5, 6, N, R, W, Q, and L trains.
TIME OUT TIP: On the south side of Gramercy Park you’ll find Irving Place, a small little street six blocks long that has some quality food and drink. At 18th and Irving there’s the Bedford Cheese Shop, the Manhattan locale of the Williamsburg original, although this outpost is much larger in scale and has three aging facilities and event space. If you like a little beer with your cheese, directly across the street is Pete’s Tavern, one of the oldest bars in the city (1864) that has a cozy and divey feel to it. If you’re in for something a little more modern, one block south on Irving is Mario Batali’s Spanish tapas restaurant Casa Mono and its sister wine bar, Bar Jamón. Try the house-made pork charcuterie at Mono with one of the many wines on the list. The Churros y Chocolate next door at Jamón are worth the nibble if you have room for dessert.