Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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.
Soho House New York -- the first of the members-only outposts outisde of London -- opened in 2003 in Manhattan's then-seedyand 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 , 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 Gansevoort, which both offer fresher-looking rooms and service that spotlights hotel guests, not exclusive members.and
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.
Well located in trendy downtown, full of shopping and glitzy nightlife
Soho House is in Manhattan's 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., in the northeast corner of the
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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,, 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.
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 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.