Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A one-of-a-kind property with more than 500 original works of contemporary art on the walls, this midtown boutique has a hip "downtown" feel.
The Gershwin Hotel may have a private gallery, while the Washingon Square Hotel and Hotel Chelsea wouldn't be the same without their collections of homespun art. But the Chambers, a 77-room Midtown East boutique, trumps even these legendary hotels with its collection of more than 500 original pieces of contemporary art in the lobby and guest rooms.
This handsome property, opened in 2001, is the brainchild of three hoteliers -- Ira Drukier, Richard Born, and Steve Caspi -- who are responsible for many other beloved boutiques in the city, including the Bowery, the Greenwich, the Blakely, and the Maritime. But the Chambers -- which was designed by starchitect David Rockwell -- is in a class of its own. From the fine walnut floor covered with Tibetan and Turkish rugs and the working two-storey gas fireplace in the lobby, to the front desk made of parchment and Macascar Ebony and the leather- and mohair-upholstered couches, the details of this hotel have been as carefully curated as the works of art.
Art work is everywhere. Nearly every hallway of this 14-floor building is a de facto art gallery. (For example, the hallway on the ninth floor, where my loft-style standard room was located, featured a sculptural installation by Alison Shotz, whose work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of Art.) The mezzanine level features a huge collection of coffee-table books on art, photography, design, and travel. There's original work hung throughout the lobby and in all of the guest rooms, too.
The same downtown-cool formula has been applied to the loft-style rooms, which all feature high ceilings, industrial-chic bathrooms, free Wi-Fi and large flatscreen television sets. Dining is hip, too -- the French-Vietnamese restaurant Ma Peche is helmed by celebrity chef David Chang.
The small, helpful staff is made up of beautiful people who maintain the friendly demeanor of a small local florist; guests are mostly Europeans or business travelers who either work in fashion and art or one of midtown's financial companies. And though Chambers may have the elements usually reserved for properties that give off a more "exclusive" vibe, this hotel lacks the usual pretentions found at such boutiques, a feat that takes great skill -- and high art.
Located in Midtown West and just three blocks from Central Park; close to great upscale and midrange shopping, and plenty of popular sites
The Chambers is located on a fairly quiet side street -- 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues -- in bustling Midtown West. The hotel is also just a few blocks from the tony, residential Upper East Side and three blocks from Central Park, the world-famous 843-acre haven for the urban outdoorsman.
Leisure guests will also value the hotel's proximity to spots like Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and the MOMA -- all within a six block radius. Columbus Circle and the Time Warner Center are about a 10-minute walk west on Central Park South; the latter features many acclaimed restaurants, including Per Se, Landmarc, and Masa, a very popular Whole Foods, and plenty of interesting shops.
Shopping is a popular pastime near Chambers, since the hotel is located close to the three Bs -- Bendel's, Barneys, and Bergdorf's -- as well as plenty of other popular high and midrange shops, from Tiffany's & Co to the Apple Store.
Since the hotel is located in what is considered primarily a business distrct, crowds do tend to dissipate at night, but guests shouldn't feel threatened -- this neighborhood is plenty safe.
Transportation is easily accessible. A doorman is always available to hail a yellow cab for guests, and access to numerous subway lines -- the F, N, R, B, Q, 4, 5, 6 -- are within three to five blocks.
From the high ceilings to the clean, ultramodern decor to the contemporary art to the industrial-chic bathrooms, the standard rooms, which come in at about 300 square feet -- sizable by Manhattan boutique standards -- are anything but standard.
All standard rooms look out onto the courtyard (i.e. the brick side of the neighboring building). For a better view, guests might want to consider a Deluxe Room which has nearly floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls, instead of one, and looks out onto 5th Avenue or 56th Street.
The bathrooms are memorable with interesting little details. They have concrete floors with handmade inset iridescent tiles and a large "rainwater" style showerhead. The Red Flower organic bath products and Frette bathrobes add to a very enjoyable bathing experience.
All rooms also equiped with some pretty great technology:
This little boutique packs a punch with lots of memorable freebies
This small boutique may lack the traditional features of a high-end boutique like an on-site fitness center or business center, but what it offers is thoughful and a great value -- like free passes to a nearby gym and free Wi-Fi.
The Chambers doesn't have an on-site fitness center, but guests are entitled to free passes to the New York Health & Racquet Club. They also offer in-room yoga instruction and massages. There is also no business center, but the hotel makes a fax machine and printer available to guests on request.
On the other hand, Wi-Fi is free in all rooms and in the lobby.
The Chambers boasts an extensive collection of movies on DVD (heavy on art house, indie, cult, and old classic films) and music on CD, and loans them to guests at no extra charge. Guests also have access to an assortment of classic boardgames; I recommend setting up camp in the lobby or on the mezzanine for a round of Monopoly over drinks -- a nice respite from the busy Midtown mayhem.
A great place to take the kids, with kid-friendly food options, in-room movie time with fresh popcorn, and lots of colorful art to amuse the little ones.
Chambers is, surprisingly perhaps, a great place for the family. The intimate atmosphere and interesting design elements seem to charm the little ones I saw scurrying about the lobby. The management told me that kids especially appreciate the all-glass elevator that allows you to see the internal machinery.
Both cribs and rollaway beds are available and, usually, free -- but call ahead and reserve, because you may be asked to pay a fee if the hotel needs to rent an extra one for you.
The hotel will arrange for babysitting services.
The collection of DVDs and CDs, available from the front desk, has a few kid-friendly selections, though you won't find the latest Disney release -- think titles like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or The Wizard of Oz. And the hotel will send up some free fresh popcorn on request.
A hip eatery by David Chang; room service available for all meals until 1 a.m.
Celebrity chef David Chang (of Momofuku fame) opened Ma Peche at the hotel in 2009. The restaurant serves French-Vietnamese dishes like beef tartare and rice noodles with spicy pork in the intimate main dining room for lunch and dinner, and breakfast is served on the mezzanine. The Milk Bar dessert counter serves inventive cookies, cakes, pies, and breads.
A limited version of the Ma Peche menu is available from room service from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Beyond the confines of Chambers, fine dining and cheap eateries abound in the neighborhood.
Between the contemporary art (even in the guest rooms) and the high-design lobby, this lovely boutique feels as much like a SoHo gallery as a hotel. A helpful, attentive staff, stylish and comfortable loft-style guest rooms, free passes to a good nearby gym, and free Wi-Fi make Chambers a rare find for Midtown West.