Hair straighteners in all rooms (along with the usual hairdryers)
A scene-y rooftop pool and terrace (seasonal) with sensational views
Library, free Wi-Fi, and a private screening room
Fitness center (though small)
Prices are high, even for a New York City luxury hotel
Staff may not treat guests quite as well as full-time members
Hotel guests are allowed only one visitor at a time!
Some people might detect an air of pretension
No photos allowed in the common areas
Don't even think about taking the toiletries home -- a charge will incur!
Some street noise from lower floors may be heard
The Soho House New York -- not to be confused with SoHo, the neighborhood -- is a members-only club that caters to the film and media industries. The Meatpacking district locale also has 30 luxury hotel rooms -- Small, Medium and Big -- that are open to the public. Despite the impressive cuisine (an improvement from days past), food still takes a slight backseat to the hip party scene; alcohol is pervasive in and out of the rooms, from the late-night cocktail scene, to the fully stocked minibars (with fresh lemon and limes), to the "One While Changing," where guests receive a personal in-room visit from a bartender between the hours of work and play. Throw in the infamous rooftop pool and terrace -- which some consider worth the price alone -- the Cowshed spa, library, and free Wi-Fi (for those who attempt to get work done), and it's clear there's not another hotel in NYC quite like it.
An exclusive club-like atmosphere -- because that's what it is.
If the understated entrance of Soho House is meant to throw off general bypassers, then it succeeds. This cobblestoned section of 9th Avenue is a hub of gentrified activity, but the black iron awning -- a contrast against the beige brick converted warehouse -- blends in, until guests discover a small sign that is meant to look like a London street sign, paying homage to its roots across the pond. The club was founded in London in the '90s, and British influences extend to the interior decor as well.
The front desk is heavily guarded by a small team of polished and friendly staff that greets members, visitors of members, and hotel guests. Check-in is personal -- sometimes even done by the General Manager himself -- and then guests are whizzed up to their rooms via one of two elevators.
Those who choose to stay here pay steep prices not just for the rooms but for access to the private enclave -- in other words, Floor Six. This is where the club space is located with a restaurant, bar, and modern art collection. There's a buzz throughout most of the day, from breakfast (brunch on weekends) until the wee hours when the late-night menu is served. Attractive movers and shakers working on laptops, impressing colleagues, or dining at a number of chic sitting areas are omnipresent. Members are "creative" types, while Wall Street types, supposedly, aren't welcome to join, but that doesn't mean that Soho House has an absence of monetary worth. Quite the opposite. There's a distinct whiff of pretension that can come and go, which isn't from the staff -- they are friendly -- but rather from some of the members themselves.
One floor above sits the rectangular rooftop pool and terrace. With decor that changes annually, cushy lounge chairs, umbrellas, and striking city views, this is one of the most coveted summer spots in Manhattan. (Fans of Sex and the City may remember when Samantha sneaked into the club to use this pool.) There's a salad bar serving healthy fare, and servers make the rounds delivering bottled water or colorful cocktails.
At night, expect to dress up. The cocktail hour is prime time, and drinks flow until late at night. The age range is wide (there's even a special membership for women ages 27 and under) but strict house rules -- like no pairs in the toilets -- help ensure the party atmosphere stays classy.
In the Meatpacking District, close to excellent restaurant, shops and the High Line
Soho House is smack in the center of Manhattan's Meatpacking District -- a trendy nabe adjacent to Chelsea and West Village. The area's name refers to its historical past as home to hundreds of slaughterhouses and meat processing plants; later, it was a cruising ground for prostitutes. These days, after a major transformation, it has become a fashionable neighborhood with a lively nightlife scene. Open since 2003, The Soho House credits itself for importing cool to the area, while others attribute the start of gentrification to the designer boutiques.
Fancy shops and expensive, celebrity-chef restaurants are prevalent throughout the neighborhood, and at night, plunging necklines and sky-high heels appear as the young and trendy meander the cobblestone streets. The revelry lasts until long past the midnight hour on weekends, and lower rooms may experience street noise. Not to say that the neighborhood is all about partying. There's a Citi bike station directly across the street, and the High Line Park entrance is nearby for sunset walks. Hudson River Park provides a great bike and running path. Taxis are easy to get from here, or the front desk can arrange private transportation. For the few staying here who might actually be taking the Subway, the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 and L station to Brooklyn are all within walking distance.
Gorgeous, urban rooms with rustic woods and velvet chairs
The Soho House has 30 rooms that all went through a major renovation in 2013. Rooms differ slightly depending on the size -- Small, Medium and Big, ranging from 300 to 750 square feet -- but they share many of the main ingredients. The decor is a blend of industrial-chic and sophisticated Britannia; details may include painted exposed brick, velvet chairs, rich rugs, brocade fabrics, and wood -- lots of wood, from hardwood floors to wood-beamed ceilings to, in some, rustic wall paneling. The style may strike some as slightly bohemian (in the same vein as the Gramercy Park Hotel), which seems appropriate given the club's targeting of creative types.
All have impressive (and expensive) minibars with still and sparkling water, snacks (including some from Dean & Deluca), full-size liquor bottles, Perrier Jouet champagne, and sodas. Along with fancy glassware, there's a cutting board, knife (for the fresh lime and lemon), a Nespresso coffee machine, and a proper tea set (this is a London-based company, after all). Upscale extras include REVO Heritage Sound Systems, Egyptian Cotton sheets, bathrobes, and slippers. Bathrooms have walk-in showers with rainforest steam and showerhead systems, an abundant spread of toiletries with everything from deodorant to toothpaste to tampons, and an impressive range of Cowshed products in full-size bottles. These are free to use but guests will be charged the full price of the bottles if they take them upon departure. Rooms also come with bandaids, convertors and chargers. A pre-loaded iPad is available upon request.
Small Rooms have queen beds, while Medium and Big Rooms have king beds. All rooms have a "One While Changing" card -- a true trademark of the Soho House brand -- that allows guests to call for a personal visit from the bartender in between the hours of work and play, when guests are changing into their evening attire. This is a free service and is available each night of the stay.
Guests have an opportunity to mix and mingle with New York's social set over an impressive food and bev program.
Not always known for its food, The Soho House has made cuisine a priority in recent years. Breakfast items like egg sandwiches, poached eggs on toast with avocado, the super food bowl, and housemade granola satiate the working crowd during the week, while the weekend brunch offers a generous spread of seafood, fruit, and champagne.
An all-day menu includes classics like artisanal cheeses, a chicken club sandwich, linguine, scallops, and a filet. The late-night menu includes marinated olives, a burger, meatballs, and fried calamari. Desserts include more cheeses, chocolate almond torte, and strawberry rhubarb crisp. The cocktail list offers signature items like the Soho Mule -- a take on a classic Moscow Mule, and many wines are offered by the glass, carafe, and/or bottle.
During warmer months is when the rooftop comes alive with a small but fabulous rectangular pool lined with lounge chairs and beautiful people. The terrace provides spots to have drinks and meetings while munching on gourmet salads. Seating is first come, first serve here too, and poolside service is available. There are designated children's hours.
The on-site spa is open to members and guests and offers Cowshed products, mud soaks, massages, facials, waxing, and body treatments. In-room treatments are also available.
A private 44-seat screening room on the fourth floor, a library, and small fitness center are all open to hotel guests, too. The schedule for the cinema and any special events is posted throughout the building. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout.
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