- Showers visible from the main rooms (little privacy)
To capitalize on the popular, elevated High Line park that opened in the summer of 2009, Standard hotelier Andre Balazs pulled off a design feat: He propped his 338-room hotel up on huge concrete stilts so that it straddles, and hovers above, the park. For this, the Standard has garnered the praise of architecture critics, who marvel at how, from inside the building, one seems to be floating in the air.
The interior design is just as striking as the architecture. Hip, compact furniture references the mid-20th-century designs of Eero Saarinen. Open bathrooms with deep soaking tubs or huge rainfall showers, surrounded by clear glass panes instead of shower curtains, create the impression of bathing beside the Hudson River. There's no artwork or vintage photos of the city hanging on the walls because there's no need -- the floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views of the the real thing. (The windows also offer views from the outside in, making for some interesting exhibitionism.)
The hotel's common areas are just as eye-catching as the rooms. Illuminated by a striplight going down the center of the room, the lobby's mirrored ceiling offers two perspectives on the same space. The elevators feature a video installation that represents heaven (when going up) and hell (when going down).
The hotel is also a stylish base for exploring the Chelsea art scene and the excellent shopping and nightlife of the surrounding neighborhood. Indeed, each room is equipped with a pamphlet of recommended art galleries, restaurants, museums, and clubs. (The staff is skilled at scoring hard-to-get dinner reservations and guest-list club passes.)
Balazs' Standards all embrace a holistic approach to the hospitality business -- multitasking as stylish places to sleep, nightlife and dining destinations, and gateways for urban exploration. This property succeeds on all fronts.
The attractive, hardworking staff is casual in style but extremely attentive and professional.
Attentive to guests and attentive to small details, the service here is excellent -- highly professional but never stuffy or overbearing. Sporting short-sleeve button-downs and sunglasses instead of the more reserved uniform and cap, the notably attractive doormen and porters hover near the entrance to assist guests with luggage or help hail cabs. There's no turndown service, and guest-service receptionists answer the phone in a casual, friendly tone. But requests for toothbrushes and the like are delivered in minutes. And this high level of service is maintained around the clock.
Above Manhattan's new High Line park, next to Meatpacking District nightlife, and within walking distance of the West Village's choice restaurants
The Standard sits in a unique location: It is literally propped up on concrete stilts above the elevated High Line park in Manhattan's cobblestone-paved Meatpacking District. This neighborhood, made up of the far northern and western blocks of the West Village and bordered by Chelsea to the north, used to be home to hundreds of slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants and, more recently, a disproportionate amount of the city's illicit sexual activity. In the past decade it's been transformed into a trend-conscious enclave full of bottle-service clubs, Sex and the City-filmed-here bistros, and designer boutiques like Alexander McQueen, La Perla, and Christian Louboutin.
The Standard's location is ideal for exploring the neighborhood clubs -- say, checking out the DJs at Cielo. Because of the heavy nightlife traffic, the area is a safe place to roam, but expect weekend nights in particular to be packed with boisterous and sometimes inebriated partiers. During the day the neighborhood is much mellower -- perfect for window-shopping and people-watching from the High Line or one of the many bistros and cafes with sidewalk seating.
The nearest subways to the Standard are the L, A, C, and E at 14th Street and 8th Avenue, about three blocks from the hotel.
Light-flooded rooms feature phenomenal views of the city, comfy beds with adjustable backboards, slick mod furniture, free Wi-Fi, Kiss My Face toiletries -- but see-through showers offer little privacy.
Hip midcentury-inspired ultramodern design, wall-to-wall windows that flood the room with light and offer panoramic views of the city, comfy beds, and gigantic minibars add up to some of the most extraordinary rooms in the city.
The eight different room types differ primarily by extra square footage and view: My 230-square-foot Superior overlooked the High Line; the 400-square-foot Standard Suite, meanwhile, has a freestanding tub in the middle of the room from which you can soak in the 180-degree views of the Hudson.
All rooms include:
A free 24-hour fitness center with Hudson River views and a glitzy cocktail lounge.
This isn't a place for children.
The surprisingly reasonable room service (most entrees are $9 to $14) offers some kid-friendly dishes; a stroll along the High Line is a fun family activity; and, yes, they offer free cribs. But, given the trend factor, this really isn't a place for children. Families who insist on staying in the neighborhood will do better at the Hotel Gansevoort.
Per stay fee; some pet amenities provided upon request
No weight limit on pets, but the hotel does charge a one-time fee.
Fairly clean, except for a few dusty surfaces in my room and scratched tabletops.
Celebrities and restaurant-opening junkies alike head to dinner at the back room of the Standard Grill, home of the extraordinary penny-tiled floor (literally, 460,000 coins went into it). Highly regarded chef Dan Silverman, formerly of Lever House, has filled the dinner menu with steakhouse standards and seasonally focused dishes: classic dry-aged rib eyes meet greenmarket sugar snap peas and some indulgent-sounding duck-fat mashed potatoes. Entrees are reasonably priced: midteens to mid-20s. Plan ahead: Same-day reservations can be hard to get.
The 24-hour room service menu offers a small but comprehensive selection of dinner entrees, salads, sandwiches, the classic Standard burger, and basic breakfast options: Irish oatmeal, granola, bagel and lox. Prices are impressively low, with almost all entrees under $14.
A similar sandwich menu is offered at the Living Room lounge.
The more informal Standard Beer Garden offers a small menu of draft beers, oversize pretzels, and several kinds of wurst. Waitresses (sporting a trompe l'oeil beer-wench T-shirt) walk around with big baskets of pretzels, while a mostly casual afterwork crowd tries out the free pingpong tables.
Several extremely popular night spots: one casual (the Biergarten); one upscale (Living Room); and one that's too cool for school (Top of the Standard).
The Standard has sevearal bars to fit any taste: the casual Biergarten -- open until 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 'til midnight on Sunday; the slightly hipper Living Room, where live DJs spin; Le Bain, which features a huge, four-foot-deep Jacuzzi and roof terrace; and Top of the Standard (formerly known as the Boom Boom Room), the celebrity hot spot lounge which is open to the public only at certain times. After it closes to the public, it becomes an ultra-exclusive members-only club with a "pre-made list."
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