Not the kid-friendliest neighborhood -- better suited for those with artsy, hipster-leaning tendencies
5-minute walk to the nearest subway lines; 10-plus minutes to others
With 135 flawlessly appointed rooms, a super-hip bar tucked away in the nostalgic, velvet-filled lobby, 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi, and free bike rentals, the Bowery Hotel redefines class in a gentrified downtown neighborhood where punk rock and squalor once ruled.
A nostalgic, shabby-chic lobby (with lots of velvet) and flawlessly luxurious rooms in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood where punk rock and squalor once ruled.
The lobby of the Bowery Hotel is like a pair of pre-distressed jeans on a well-heeled hipster: Sure, the look is a bit contrived, but the pants are very flattering -- and damn if the overall effect isn't almost ... perfect.
With its faded oriental rugs, shabby-chic vintage (and faux-vintage) furniture, and wrought-iron detailing, the lobby of the Bowery Hotel is unlike any other in New York. The atmosphere is darkly brooding and richly nostalgic; you wouldn't be surprised to see the dandified thug played by Daniel Day-Louis in Gangs of New York stroll past tasseled velvet couches, examine one of the strategically placed peacock feathers, and sit in one of the leather club chairs.
In fact, the Bowery tends to attract well-to-do guests in their thirties and forties who appreciate the curated decor and are savvy enough to know that the neighborhood is no longer synonymous with Skid Row. On the other hand, they are no doubt attracted by its punk-rock and counterculture associations. After all, the Bowery (the neighborhood, not the hotel) was a stomping ground for Patti Smith, Joey Ramone, and William S. Burroughs. And even if the heyday of those movements are decades in the past, a few vestiges of the neighborhood's grittier days are still around: CBGB's, the temple of punk that was once across the street, is gone, but the homeless shelter next door is still there. That street cred probably helps draw in the celebrity crowd as well: Ashley Olsen, Blake Lively, and Rachel Bilson have all reportedly stayed at the hotel recently, and I shared an elevator with comedienne Sarah Silverman, who told me she always stays here when visiting from LA.
Given the glut of ultra-mod, glass-wrapped hipster hotels cropping up all over downtown Manhattan, including the new Cooper Square Hotel down the street, the nostalgic vibe here feels oddly refreshing and new. All in all, I'm tempted to call it an instant classic.
Nightly turndown service where guests can choose a time from alotted evening hours
24-hour room service and concierge service
Reservations can be made at the nearby coveted Waverly Inn, supper club co-owned by the Bowery's hoteliers. (One caveat: Waverly reservations may be made only -- and exactly -- two days in advance via email.)
Located on the edge of the East Village within walking distance of Union Square and SoHo in a hip, mostly gentrified neighborhood that's managed to retain some of its original character.
The Bowery, the street the hotel is located on and named after, is a mile-long avenue in Lower Manhattan that was for much of the last century associated with the down-and-out: the homeless, the drug addicts, and the punk rockers who often fell into both those categories. But these days the Bowery looks more like SoHo than Skid Row. A Think coffee shop, trendy clothing boutiques, and hip eateries like the newly opened DBGB, the latest endeavor from renowned French chef Daniel Boulud, now dot this once-desolate street.
The area still has some edge and grit -- there's a homeless shelter next door to the hotel, for example -- but thanks to the active foot traffic, it feels safe even late at night. In fact, it's the juxtaposition of the old and the new, the modern and the gritty, that makes the neighborhood what it is today, even if the purists still mourn the closure of CBGB's, the temple of punk that used to be just a few doors down. (There's now a John Varvatos store in its place.)
Located on the edge of the East Village, and just two blocks south of the Cooper Square Hotel, the Bowery is within easy walking distance of the Lower East Side, SoHo, and Union Square -- an ideal base, in other words, for exploring Manhattan's vibrant downtown nightlife scene. And it's only a 10-minute walk to NYU.
The one downside to the location: It's a bit of a hike to the subway. The 6, B, D, F, and M lines are closest to the hotel (within a few minutes' walking distance), or you can walk 10 minutes north to Union Square to catch an additional seven lines.
Serta mattresses, topped with 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens (which have been ironed - yes ironed), down pillows, and a down duvet. An orange wool blanket that's draped over the foot of the bed can go home with you for the low, low price of $450.
Sharp flat-screen TVs, started at 32-inches in Queen rooms, with DVD players. Basic cable in all rooms, but the hotel has an extensive DVD library with free movie loans
iHome iPod docks
Minibar stocked with Dean & Deluca snacks
Intimacy kits (fee)
C.O. Bigelow bath products
Large factory-style windows
Free New York Times or New York Post newspaper
Cell phones are available for loan, but must be arranged with the hotel
Free Wi-Fi available in all rooms
Rollaway beds are available for a nightly fee
Rooms don't have any dressers, but guests can request rollaway racks for a fee
Not really a child-friendly atmosphere, but cribs are free, and Aerobeds are available.
Kids don't really fit in among the lobby's distressed antiques, decadent low light, and dark wood paneling. And this isn't a particularly child-friendly neighborhood, either. But cribs are free and fit into any room size. Aerobeds are available for a nightly fee, but fit only in king deluxe rooms or suites. The hotel also offers babysitter services.
There's a small section of kids movies in the hotel's extensive (and free) DVD collection. In addition, the hotel's restaurant, Gemma, has a decent kids menu with adult-sized prices: peanut butter and jelly with a glass of organic milk, grilled cheese and fries, and ants on a log, among other items.
The Bowery is still fairly new and has been immaculately maintained, save for some rust-colored mildew in the marble shower.
The oriental rugs that line the floor of nearly every square inch of the hotel probably hide dust and dirt very well. And the lobby is so dark it'd be nearly impossible to spot a stain or drink ring. With the exception of the faint bit of rust-colored mildew in my shower, public areas are well-kept.
Trendy trattoria on the ground floor serves up solid food in a loud restaurant with a lively atmosphere.
Gemma is located on the ground floor of the hotel, and its rustic wooden tables, candelabra chandeliers, copper pots, and wood-fired oven combine to create a lively bonhomie befitting a trendy trattoria in an even trendier hotel. But be prepared to raise your voice at dinner -- the restaurant is loud and packed elbow to elbow until at least 11 p.m. most nights. The good news is that the restaurant accepts reservations for hotel guests only. (For everyone else, it's first come, first served.) Everything I ordered was delicious. But is it worth passing up the scores of great options in the surrounding neighborhoods? Probably not.
Breakfast is reasonably priced, with dishes ranging from $7 (hard-boiled eggs on toast) to $12 (bagel with lox).
Guests and locals alike hang out in the cozy, dimly lit lobby bar that serves creative cocktails and boasts a well-selected wine list.
The bar in the lobby is classy (one of the bartenders was sporting a dapper three-piece suit when I was there), low-key, and intimate. Unlike at the bar at Cooper Square, you don't have to scream in order to be heard by the waitstaff. Hotel guests get first dibs on seating. Cocktails run about $14 a pop.