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April 1st, 2004

Stays In SoHo

by Sara Goff

Entering a luxury hotel, wide-eyed or squinting with scrutiny, unique details manifest and personal service becomes the obsession.?Ǭ Four boutique hotels in SoHo and Tribeca uphold a standard of luxury that begets high expectations, but while each one strives to impress, each differs from the next.

The Mercer, Sixty Thompson, SoHo Grand and Tribeca Grand have earned worldwide recognition offering amenities to please, but that doesn’t necessarily mean satisfaction is guaranteed. Knowing which hotel compliments you is essential to a truly luxurious stay in New York City.

The Mercer

Andre Balazs, most known for the Chateau Marmont and The Standard hotel in Hollywood, unveiled this luxury hotel in 1998.?Ǭ His overall design objective remains "domestic bliss" in "loft living" with an emphasis on open space and natural light. The Mercer has 75 rooms on nine floors, including a top floor suite, and claims to have the best bathrooms in North America, offering two-person bathtubs that add romance to luxury.

At The Mercer there’s an air of composure. The lobby offers a tea bar and a collection of art books, which tempt you to sit back and browse, or even take one up to your room.?Ǭ A simple nod and polite smile from the staff as they settle you into your room are just enough; their exactness and immediate attention is all that matters.?Ǭ Balazs’s philosophy is, "We like to think of every staff member as every guest’s personal concierge and the front desk as your private secretary."?Ǭ You feel smart here, at ease in quiet elegance. You use a key, not an electronic card, to enter your room.?Ǭ Famed interior designer Christian Liaigre’s vision is in the details – expect fresh flowers in the shower.?Ǭ Go ahead and expect all the best here, from comfort to functionality.?Ǭ The rooms, which should be called apartments, are accentuated with dark wood furniture and floors, earth-toned linens and white walls – only a hint of color comes from the lilac leather upholstered banquettes and orange raffia place mats.

Space is coveted in Manhattan, and yet the rooms at The Mercer have been criticized for looking like an art gallery with a bed in it, translating to empty and stiff.?Ǭ Open space may be just what you want simply for thinking or for entertaining a few friends.?Ǭ The Mercer’s trademark piece of furniture is an oval conversation table.?Ǭ Use it to hold meetings, to get work done on the room’s laptop, or to order up a roasted lamb sandwich from "The Kitchen," The Mercer Kitchen. World-renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant, The Mercer Kitchen, is sub-street, and often just out of reach of a reservation. The best in French-American cuisine is served from an open kitchen, inviting to parties wanting the communal tables and to guests looking for an out-of-the-way niche. The Mercer Kitchen adds yet another element of?Ǭ luxury to The Mercer hotel.

Web Site: www.themercer.com; Reservations: 1-888-918-6060

Sixty Thompson

Jason Pomeranc, President of The Pomeranc Group, opened Sixty Thompson on a tree-lined street sprinkled with specialty shops in 2001. The Pomeranc Group is known for recently renovating the Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach, now a buzz for its bold art and high style. Sixty Thompson touts a perpetually hip bar scene and friendly staff in a casual chic setting. Sixty Thompson has 100 rooms on 12 floors, including ten suites and a duplex penthouse, and is noted for its seasonal members-only roof deck, called A60, great for guests who like to mingle. But the obvious point of pride at this hotel is Sixty Thompson’s desirable address, both trendy and tranquil.

Praise comes easy at Sixty Thompson, where a sense of harmony pervades.?Ǭ Entering the lobby, the lighting is dim and the marble floors are cool and dark, appearing like a reflecting pool.?Ǭ Upstairs it’s a different feel where 15-foot windows grace the sprawling lounge and reception area with natural light, and where an oblique marble fireplace glows by the bar. The interior design by Thomas O’Brien of Aero Studios will not intimidate; in fact, the modest style here flatters.

The friendly staff is a young and attractive bunch, generous with compliments, helpful tips and smiles as they welcome your stay.?Ǭ Sixty Thompson’s rooms bear an honest beauty using art, mirrors and glass. They have been praised for looking fresh – they’re brand-new-and for feeling comfortable and roomy-they’re reminiscent of Thailand with peaceful ambiance. Possessing both high technology and healing d?cor, each room is marked by pure down bedding, an all-marble bathroom and DVD player. At Sixty Thompson you could be content holing-up in your room, perhaps only venturing to the hotel’s happening bars and restaurant.

The big event this spring will be the opening of a brand-new restaurant. Owners Jean Marc Houmard and Michael Callahan are aiming to surpass their sexy eats Indochine and Bond Street, if it’s possible. In the meantime, stay nourished ordering up room service; the roasted salmon with beluga lentils is a favorite, as is the homemade pizza. The tiramisu sundae is another superb portent to this unpretentious luxury hotel.

Web Site: www.60thompson.com; Reservations: 1-877-431-0400

SoHo Grand

Hartz Mountain Industries is known for its dog collars and this is fitting for their hotel, SoHo Grand-famed for being pet friendly. Opened in 1996, this hotel is a powerhouse for the chic, offering personalized packages meant to pamper-plus services to satisfy your travel-weary pup. There are 367 rooms, including four terraced penthouses, on the 16 floors of the SoHo Grand. The exterior of the hotel looks like a professional building with industrial nuances constructed to embody the neighborhood, past and present.?Ǭ William Sofield’s design objective bows to the trends happening in SoHo with attention to the latest in sumptuous style.

The SoHo Grand boasts the perfect place to do a girls’ weekend-whether you’re a married girl, a bachelorette celebrating your last hurrah, or you’re a swinging single and a virgin to the big city. The must-do weekend packages are dubbed "Sex in the City" and can be arranged with a phone call to the concierge prior to check-in. At this time, a schedule of activities is set forth and can feature your choice spa treatments, favorite restaurants, art galleries, shopping-whatever your heart desires.

The entrance to the SoHo Grand is acclaimed for combining industry and art, specifically the bottle glass and iron two-story staircase suspended from the ceiling by cables. The hotel’s upstairs lobby and lounge, called the Grand Bar, is definitely a highlight. Its modish vibe spills out to the mezzanine as it hosts a worldly crowd. Recently touched-up with textured fabrics such as pony hair, and with antique fixtures and sofas ideal for flirting, the Grand Bar takes people-watching a step further, appealing to the most flirtatious guests.

The pet amenities are reason enough to go out and buy a dog.?Ǭ Besides special menus and doggie sitting, there are grooming and massage services available. And if you’ve always wanted a gold fish, the SoHo Grand can make your dreams come true. If you’re staying at SoHo Grand to see the city, it’s easier to overlook the rooms.?Ǭ Guest rooms are small and drab, and the busy artwork calls attention to itself.?Ǭ On the bright side, the Empire State Building appearing an arms-length from your window compensates for the "little" things.?Ǭ Breathtaking city views remind you of why you came to Manhattan.

In The Gallery restaurant, Executive Chef Gabriel Sorgi cooks up "global comfort cuisine" from a menu offering a sundry selection where both the macaroni & cheese and the boneless loin of lamb are favorites.?Ǭ The ceilings are high and the settees are low – add the right cocktails and you’re enjoying a luxurious social scene.

Web Site: www.Sohogrand.com; Reservations: 1-800-965-3000

Tribeca Grand

Hartz Mountain Industries opened Tribeca Grand, Soho Grand’s sister hotel, in 2000. Tribeca Grand is unique for its high energy and eight-story atrium structure, housing 203 rooms, including six suites and the Grand Suite with rooftop terrace.?Ǭ Getting all the attention is the hotel’s Grand Screen, a technologically advanced, 100-seat screening room with in-theater dining, bar and reception area like no other in New York. This feature attracts Hollywood celebrities, as well as families coming for the Sunday brunch and children’s film series.

The enticing energy at Tribeca Grand is felt before the front doors are opened for you.?Ǭ Start with the sexy doormen who might return your second glance with a wink, if it’s appropriate. Some of the wait staff can’t be bothered with your every whim, but when the nightlife is this good, the city that never sleeps has to run on something, and sometimes that’s attitude.

The hub of activity surrounding Tribeca Grand makes it ideal for getting loud – say you’re having a family reunion or you want to party like a New Yorker. If it’s the latter, there’s always an eclectic mix of New Yorkers hanging out here to learn from.?Ǭ?Ǭ The Sanctum eatery and lounge is a brand-new addition to Tribeca Grand’s points of pleasure, unveiled in August of 2003. It’s styled in old Hollywood glamour, by interior designer William Sofield, and deemed downtown’s gem for a meeting place, bringing in live music or the city’s hottest DJ’s.?Ǭ The state-of-the-art sound system and the 22-drink cocktail menu created by Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey New York and London define luxe here as intoxicating.

The noise level in the rooms has posed a problem causing guests to protest.?Ǭ Rest assured, high-tech sound abatement devices installed by each room’s door, as well as plush rugs on the atrium floor and wall-coverings made of a sound-absorbing material have quieted most of the complaints.

Each guest room opens into a warm color palette that assuages the utilitarian fixtures and the stainless steal bathroom sink.?Ǭ Practicality can feel impersonal; however, the mini TV in the bathroom is ingenious.?Ǭ A wall of windows frames the old neighborhood, a work of art in itself, but it’s best to draw the curtains on cold nights to keep out the drafts.?Ǭ The Frette linens are soft, but the comforter is insubstantial.

While the rooms are streamlined with amenities to suit business needs, including a Herman Miller Aeron chair, you’re more likely to join the party downstairs. The celebration this winter is Tribeca Grand’s new menu created by Executive Chef Franklin Becker who impressed New York City’s top food critics at Capitale. At Tribeca Grand’s Church Lounge restaurant, fun American-Asian creations leave a flavorful impression all their own. Church Lounge and Sanctum, with their caf?-style tables and chairs and low lounge furniture, are pleasing to the dinner parties that grow as the night progresses-hence coined a "moveable feast." This spring look for more intimate and formal dining with the opening of Trinity restaurant within Church Lounge. Trinity is expected to top the party with ?lan. The luxury at Tribeca Grand is the experience.

Web Site: www.tribecagrand.com; Reservations: 1-877-519-6600

Sara Goff’s work has been published in Epiphany, a literary journal affiliated with NYU, The L Magazine and the Los Angeles News Enterprise and Seal Beach Journal. She is currently working on her first novel. saragoff@sinclair.net

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | New York

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