Soho House Rating: 4.0 Pearls
West Village, Manhattan, New York City

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Access to exclusive, members-only club amenities
  • Trendy, convenient location in Meatpacking District
  • Rooftop pool, bar, and restaurant with views of the city
  • Cowshed spa with free Chill-Out Room

Cons

  • Members-only club dominates -- rooms and guests take a backseat to the better-known bar and pool
  • Inattentive service
  • Small, awkwardly placed gym
  • Only two visitors allowed per guest room

Bottom Line

Known best as a members-only club, Soho House's 24 rooms, though comfortable and well-designed, are pretty much an afterthought. Yes, the rooftop pool, the Drawing Room bar/lounge, and spa are all great amenties. But lodgers vie with club members for service, and the staff seems so concerned with it's own brand's exclusivity and cool that hospitality is all but forgotten.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

More private club than hotel, you'd hardly know about Soho House's 24 guestrooms if it weren't for the website. The exclusive membership policies and socially engineered rooftop pool parties, not the hotel, are the center of attention.

The pool
The pool

Soho House New York -- the first of the members-only outposts outisde of London -- opened in 2003 in Manhattan's then-seedy Meatpacking District and helped usher in the neighborhood's transformation. The club and rooftop pool -- and the members, of course -- make regular appearances in New York society headlines: The club practices a version of social engineering whereby members must be nominated and then chosen by the club for permission to pay the hefty annual dues. "Creative types" and celebrities make the cut -- Wall Street types, supposedly, don't.

Soho House rooms are spacious and well appointed with comfortable beds, great bathrooms, and top-of-the-line technology. But in a neighborhood where hot neighbors like the Standard and Gansevoort wow guests with super modern design, the once-trendy look of these rooms is feeling dated.

The city's only Cowshed spa, the Drawing Room and Bar, a restaurant, and a private screening room are spread throughout the building, and are only accessible to hotel guests and club members. But forget about inviting a group of friends to join you for a drink in the lobby -- guests can invite only two people to join them inside the hotel.

Though any trendy guest or member is likely to fit in here, the hotel itself seems best suited to Soho House club members visiting from the other side of the pond, who get a members discount on rooms. For most visitors, however, Soho House doesn't measure up to other neighborhood favorites like the Standard and Gansevoort, which both offer fresher-looking rooms and service that spotlights hotel guests, not exclusive members.

 Service

Service is punctual but not nearly as attentive or thorough as it ought to be.

You get none of the over-the-top attentiveness, thoughtful extras, or personalized attention that most hotels in this price range offer. Service is known to cater to club members over guests.

  • Front desk acts as 24 hour concierge; no separate desk
  • Bellmen assist guests with luggage, but no doormen
  • 24 hour room service
  • Automatic nightly turndown service

 Location

Well located in trendy downtown Meatpacking District, full of shopping and glitzy nightlife

Soho House is in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, in the northeast corner of the West Village, next to Chelsea. The area's name refers to its recent past as home to hundreds of slaughterhouses and meat processing plants. Later it was a notorious cruising ground for prostitutes. These days, after an astoundingly rapid transformation, it's become a fashionable neighborhood with a lively nightlife scene -- Soho House credits itself for importing cool to the area, while others attribute the start of gentrification to the designer boutique Jeffrey New York or even Soho House's neighbor, the Hotel Gansevoort.

Fancy shops and expensive, celebrity-chef restaurants abound throughout the neighborhood, and at night, plunging necklines appear and sky-high heels click along the sidewalks until long past the midnight hour. Despite the area's slightly seedy history, it's now perfectly safe at nearly all hours -- but it's not quiet.

  • One hour ($45) from JFK International Airport; 30 to 40 minutes ($40) from LaGuardia Airport; 1.5 hours or more ($40 and up plus tolls) from Newark Liberty International Airport
  • The nearest subways are the L, A, C, and E at 14th Street and 8th Avenue, about three blocks from the hotel.

 Rooms

Spacious rooms with bold but slightly outdated design. Plenty of amenities, but they'll all cost you -- a disposable razor or two and Wi-Fi access are about the only free things in the room.

A Playroom
A Playroom

Large, well-appointed rooms range from 325 to 950 square feet -- pretty large for New York, in other words, even at the bottom of that range. Great beds, couches, desks, plenty of storage and closet space, and up-to-date technology in even the smallest rooms make them feel like apartments. They all feature huge bathrooms with a huge range of Cowshed bath products and luxurious stand-up showers. All rooms have Sony Bravia flat-screen TVs, equipped with "Dream" surround sound systems hooked up to DVD players, radios, CD players, and iPod docks. Catch phrases like "cool Britannia" and "urban sophistication" crop up in articles describing the design, by Ilse Crawford, founder of British Elle Decoration.

  • DVD rentals can be ordered until late evening hours, and pay-per-view movies can be ordered; cabel channels are available, including British channels, sports, family, and cable entertainment channels.
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel, including in the rooms.
  • Beds are comfortable, with down pillows and smooth, white Italian cotton sheets by Fili D'oro. The mattresses, custom-made for the hotel, are very comfortable and have pillow-top covers.
  • Bathrooms are spacious, clean, and well designed. Tiled shower stalls with rain showerheads are in every room, and all but the smallest rooms have bathtubs in them, ranging from built-in units to standalone egg-shaped marble tubs.
  • Rooms are stocked with a full range of Cowshed products in full-size bottles, any of which are free to use, but guests are charged the full price of the bottles if they take them upon departure.
  • A drawer full of complimentary items like razors, tampons, and cotton swabs was stocked, which was a nice little extra.
  • Pre-loaded iPad, available upon request
  • The Monarch robes and Pima collection towels are comfortable but they feel kind of worn, like they're about due for replacement.

 Features

The rooftop pool and Drawing Room & Bar are the center of the social action at this club-cum-hotel. It also has a small gym, Cowshed spa, private screening room, and private event rooms -- all members and guests only, of course.

The screening room
The screening room

The rooftop pool, especially during sweltering New York summers, is an enviable hangout spot, with a great view of the city from the pool deck, bar, and poolside service (with a food menu available, too). Seating is first come, first served, and guests have no priority over members. The pool has designated children's hours, and is open seasonally, shutting down completely during the coldest weeks of winter. The pool deck furniture is replaced every year to create a new atmosphere.

When guests aren't partying poolside, they're usually crowded into the Drawing Room & Bar. It's first come, first served here too, and when it's crowded, good luck on the "served" part. Members hold business lunches and work from the deep, plush chairs during the day. At night the place becomes a busy, see-and-be-seen kind of bar where members come to network. For knackered travelers, this could be overwhelming and annoying -- but if you thrive on exclusive party scenes, you'll have a ball.

  • Soho House also houses Cowshed, a spa chain started in Babington's Soho House in 1998. The spa has what it calls a "Chill-Out Room" with free drinks and lounge chairs that's open to guests and members using the pool and gym. The spa offers a range of massages, body treatments, facials, and waxing and nail salon, for fairly normal Manhattan prices.
  • The hotel's small and minimally equipped gym is located next to the pool deck. It's in decent condition, but the small space looks like an afterthought.
  • The 4th-floor Screening Room has 44 black leather seats and a daily schedule of screenings and events that are free for guests and club members; the schedule is posted throughout the building and is provided in guestrooms.
  • Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the hotel and club.
  • The hotel also features a number of private event rooms.
  • No photos are allowed at all in the common areas; club members sign a contract promising not to take photos, and anyone taking photos will be escorted out of the hotel (hence our abnormally slim photo coverage).

 Family

Large rooms with decent soundproofing make the rooms reasonably comfortable for families, but because of its late-night club atmosphere and noisy surroundings, it's not an obvious family choice.

The hotel's sexy club atmosphere and loud surroundings put this low on the list of great family hotels in New York. However, the rooms are very spacious; the (small) pool is fun in good weather; and cribs and rollaway beds are available. (Cribs are free, but guests are charged a extra fee per adult per stay; the number of people allowed depends on room type.) And the room-service menu has decent options for kids. But families who really want to stay in the neighborhood would do better at the Gansevoort Hotel, just steps away, where rooms and amenities are better suited to kids.

 Food

The hotel's own kitchen produces pretty average, unexciting fare, but the surrounding area offers a wide range of excellent choices.

Soho House's kitchen serves different styles fare in the restaurant, Drawing Room & Bar, and poolside. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, and it tends to get crowded, so planning a calm, sit-down dinner here is wishful thinking.

A full room-service menu from the same kitchen is available during the day, and a limited late-night snacks menu is available afterhours.

Thankfully, the hotel's Meatpacking District surroundings offer plenty of great culinary choices.

 Bottom Line

Known best as a members-only club, Soho House's 24 rooms, though comfortable and well-designed, are pretty much an afterthought. Yes, the rooftop pool, the Drawing Room bar/lounge, and spa are all great amenties. But lodgers vie with club members for service, and the staff seems so concerned with it's own brand's exclusivity and cool that hospitality is all but forgotten.

Things You Should Know About Soho House

Address

  • 29-35 9th Ave, New York, NY

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Soho Hotel New York City
  • Soho House New York
  • Soho New York City

Room Types

  • Playground Room
  • Playhouse Room
  • Playpen Room
  • Playroom Room
  • Room Selected at Check-in

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 24
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: West Village, Manhattan
Address: 29-35 9th Ave, New York, NY
(See Map)
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