Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Still capable of drawing a lively downtown scene to its dimly lit but stylish lounge; but like an aging rockstar, it's starting to show some wear and tear.
This dimly lit 201-room hotel built around an impressive, vaulted central atrium used to be one of the hottest digs in town. But it's cachet has been slowly draining away in recent years as hip, new downtown competitors like the Bowery, Hotel on Rivington, and most recently the Standard pull both the scene-chasers and those looking for more luxurious, up-to-date rooms.
The Tribeca Grand was renovated in 2006, but the updates don't seem to have held up well, at least in the public areas. The lounge tables on which the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Lindsay Lohan have famously set their drinks are now looking a little sad, with badly chipped wood and scratched mirrors.
Thanks to the its long-time association with New York's independent film scene, plus the movie theater in the basement, the hotel does still see a fair number of celebs come through the doors for special film screenings and local premieres. The February 2009 screening of "He’s Just Not That Into You" drew actress Ginnifer Goodwin, model Helena Christensen, and designer Michael Kors. And the stars of "The Great Buck Howard," Tom Hanks and John Malkovich, were both in attendance for that film's March 2009 screening.
In the afternoons, guests use the lobby and bar/lounge for work and pleasure, tapping away on iPhones and nibbling on a light meal while laid-back tunes play softly in the background. Come evening, the bass gets cranking and the lounge floods with hipsters decked out in skinny jeans, thick scarves, and fedoras.
The Tribeca Grand's sister hotel, the SoHo Grand, has a similar overall vibe; but the Tribeca's rooms are superior. For newer, brighter, and perfectly appointed rooms and a good chance of celeb sightings in the lobby, check out the Bowery.
Service can be warm and friendly or standoffish and aloof -- in other words, wildly inconsistent.
The doormen and porters were cheerful when they opened the door, and even remembered my name when I returned later that night. On the other hand, the front desk was understaffed at 3 p.m., so a half-dozen or so guests and I suffered what seemed an interminable wait to check in. The service at the Tribeca Grand can be excellent but it can also be poor. It's inconsistent -- and disappointing for a place that charges this much for a room.
Another example: The concierge was extremely helpful when I inquired about art happenings around town, pointing me in the direction of an Alexander Calder exhibition at PS1 , an underappreciated contemporary art museum in Queens -- a smart, well-informed suggestion. On the other hand, in the restaurant, I waited 25 minutes for the simple beet salad I ordered to arrive -- and it was missing the beets. (On the other other hand, room service later delivered a beet salad in just 10 minutes.)
The Tribeca neighborhood is full of yuppies, moms with strollers, great restaurants, and cool bars.
Located on a prime piece of lower Manhattan real estate in the neighborhood called TriBeCa, which is short for "Triangle Below Canal" Street, the hotel is given its shape by its position at a three-way intersection the shape of a right triangle. You don’t really look for the hotel’s address, you just kind of run into the building. (Or not: Lots of guests complain they have trouble finding the hotel among the neighborhood's crisscrossing cobblestone streets.)
In 2006, Forbes ranked 10013, TriBeCa's zip code, the 12th most expensive in the U.S. This once-gritty industrial slice of the city was first colonized by artists, who were then turned out by the financiers from nearby Wall Street, who transformed the neighborhood's vast warehouses into luxury lofts. These days, its streets are filled with kids in strollers being pushed between high-end restaurants and high-end boutiques by their well-to-do parents. It's a relatively safe place to roam at most times, though some of the fringes of the neighborhood feel deserted late at night.
Cabs are easy to find, if not quite as ubiquitous as in midtown. As many as nine subway lines are within a few blocks.
About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports.
New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting to town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than getting there from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to Midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 plus tolls and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. Public transit is also available for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Peppering the room with items from the Design Within Reach catalog doesn't quite cut it these days.
Yes, the rooms at the Tribeca Grand feature a handful of modern classics, including two Artemide lamps, a Herman Miller chair, and a Kartell trash can. Unfortunately, that sort of stuff looked fresh a few years ago but has since become almost commonplace.
But even an abiding passion for Mid-Century modern won't get you past some other shortcomings of the rooms. Extreme darkness is one. Even during the day, with the curtains pulled aside, I couldn’t read a book without turning on the lights in my standard room, which the hotel dubs a deluxe king room. The earthy oranges and browns seem to absorb most of the available light. (At roughly 250 square feet, the rooms are about average for New York hotels, especially of the downtown "boutique" variety.)
The small bathrooms are even darker. The stainless-steel sink and shower fixture are more emblems of dated design. Around the turn of the millennium, they no doubt looked cutting edge; now they just look institutional. Nor are they particularly functional: The showerhead was so weak that I hardly needed a towel to dry off. Also annoying: The shower-curtain liner was so long that it gathered on the bottom of the tub.
My room was quiet largely thanks to its location tucked away in a nook on the uppermost (8th) floor with another room, but also because of a clever noise-cancelling device controlled by a white knob within the room. Turn it on and white noise (sort of like an air conditioner) plays inside the room. This is an especially important feature in rooms on the lower floors that are close to the exceptionally loud bar.
The textured duvet was plush and the pillows firm, but the sheets were disappointingly rough for this level of hotel.
The centerpiece and defining feature of the hotel is the Church Lounge, located in the lobby. It's considerably darker even than the guest rooms upstairs -- probably a good thing, as it masks all the nicks and scratches on the furniture. And the space morphs into a lively club most nights, especially on weekends when the music, heavy with bass, gets progressively louder as the night goes on.
The well-equipped fitness room is open 24 hours and has two treadmills, two stationary bikes, two elliptical machines, a set of free weights, and yoga mats. There’s no pool, though.
Free Wi-Fi is available in the rooms and public spaces. Additionally, the 24-hour business center has several computer work stations (both Mac and PC), as well as a fax and copy machine.
Guests can borrow one of the very cool Electra Townie bikes for free during the warm spring, summer, and fall months.
The hotel also has an extensive DVD collection as well as loaner iPods, pre-programmed with playlists curated by the hotel's creative director. Both are free of charge.
A welcome kit and special menu for kids, free child-proofing, cribs, and goldfish in the rooms make this a solid choice for well-heeled families -- despite the PG-13 lounge scene.
This isn't a particularly kid-tastic part of town, and the bass-thumping singles scene in the lounge gets pretty PG-13, but the hotel does its part to welcome the littlest of scenesters.
Guests can request that a room be child-proofed or have a crib or rollaway bed installed before arrival. There's no charge for either -- but rollaway beds fit only in the larger rooms.
The hotel's Grand Kids program welcomes kids with a free package that includes a kid-focused guide to New York City and assorted coloring books and toys. There's also a schedule of kid-friendly films screened weekly at the Grand Sunday Brunch, a popular event even among locals in which parents enjoy a lavish buffet while the little ones watch a movie in the hotel's movie theater. Oysters on the half shell, prosecco, and Disney might be the epitome of downtown cool parenting (and not a bad deal for $34.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids).
A children's menu is available at both the restaurant and for room service (think grilled cheese, hold the truffle oil!).
Also, don't forget to request a pet goldfish for your room.
Special treatment -- even room service -- for four-legged friends of any weight.
Four-legged friends of any size get the special treatment at the Tribeca Grand (many other pet-friendly hotels have weight limitations). The hotel asks only that visitors inform the staff ahead of time so that the reservations department can book you into one of the three pet-friendly floors (the second and third) and ensure that food, bowls, and a crate are available -- at no extra charge, in fact. (Room service delivers Hartz-brand animal chow and some special treats.) Dog walking, a more extensive menu, and grooming can all be arranged through the concierge for an extra fee.
If guests can't bring their own pets, the hotel offers "surrogate animal companionship" in the form of a pet goldfish in your room, which you can even take home with you. (I did.)
For the most part, this hotel is very clean -- but some guests won't like the pooches hanging out in the lounge where guests drink and eat.
No problem with cleanliness per se. And save for a few minor exceptions in some of the darkest corners of my room, and some permanent water rings on the metal table next to my bed, the room was in fine condition.
However, despite New York City Department of Health regulations that would seem to prohibit it, the hotel allows dogs to hang out in the lounge where guests eat and drink. The only house rule is that they can't sit on the furniture. I didn't see a dog hair or paw print in any of the public spaces, and pets are restricted to certain floors. But some guests might not like even the idea of animals in their luxury hotel.
Refined American classics and steep price tags, but 24-7 room service.
Meals at the Church Lounge are refined (and expensive) versions of classic American comfort food -- think burgers with Gruyere, seared salmon with pink-grapefruit-and-avocado salad, and mac and cheese with black-diamond cheddar. Entrees range between $15 and $28.
I ordered a $14 goat-cheese-and-beet salad at the bar at 6:15 p.m., when it was practically empty, and the salad arrived 25 minutes later -- minus the beets. I complained and a small dish of them arrived promptly on the side.
Breakfast is served in the same area as the lounge, but is not included in the room rate. I wasn't there over the weekend, but heard from two other guests that the Sunday brunch is top-notch. If you can only go a la carte, the ricotta pancakes ($16) are superb.
All meals can be eaten in the lounge or restaurant, or delivered to a guest's room, at any time of the day or night, allowing a guests to scarf down some fried calamari with Szechuan salt at 2 a.m., should the craving strike.
With spacious rooms, a lively lounge scene, and the occasional star-studded film screening, the Tribeca Grand is still a cool and comfortable place to grab a slice of urban hipsterism -- even if its cachet slips a little every time a new downtown boutique like the Bowery and the Standard opens up.
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