24-hour room service operated by David Burke Kitchen
One- to two-block walking distance to five subway lines
Free Downtown car service, pending availability
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Pet-friendly (hotel donates to Animal Haven, a Soho shelter)
No spa (although in-room spa services are available)
Smaller rooms than its luxury competitors
Occasional long waits for elevators
Higher-floor rooms can get noise from rooftop nightclub until late
With a stunning rooftop bar and pool, great freebies (including Wi-Fi and nightly wine and cheese), David Burke restaurant, and a hotel art curator, this 114-room Soho boutique embodies the hip, creative neighborhood it inhabits. Its bright, minimalist rooms are smaller than those at some of the James' luxury competitors, but they're full of enough thoughtful details to make up for it. Travelers could also consider the nearby boutique Greenwich Hotel, which has a Japanese-inspired spa and pool (the James can arrange in-room massages).
The James New York may be located at the southwesternmost corner of Soho, but the hotel has adopted the neighborhood's character as its own, which you can see in its interior design (inspired by Soho's airy, formerly industrial lofts) and its use of local products (including the turndown treats, which are from Soho confectioner Kee's Chocolates). It also honors the neighborhood's cultural heritage as a hub for artists and other creative types: New York artist Matthew Jensen curates the hotel's art installations (including a mosaic at the hotel's entrance made from thousands of recycled keyboard buttons and hallway displays from up-and-coming artists on each floor), and the hotel purchases all of its books from Printed Matter, a non-profit art bookstore and gallery that supports artists. Some of these details might escape guests' attention, but others, like the free Wi-Fi and free lobby snacks (don't miss the free coffee and scones in the morning and wine and cheese in the afternoon), will not. (The large, bright Sixth-Avenue-facing street-art mural by Paul Wackers will probably not go unnoticed, either). It's these sort of intimate touches that define a true boutique hotel experience, and make guests feel truly cared for.
In southwestern Soho, within easy walking distance of some of the city's best shopping and dining
Though it's lost much of its edge since the days when starving artists squatted in the neighborhood's then-abandoned (but now historically preserved) cast-iron industrial buildings, Soho (short for "South of Houston") is still a hub for New York creative types, but also draws the young, beautiful -- and moneyed -- in droves. Over the years, as real estate prices rose, artists' studios gave way to art galleries, which in turn gave way to retail. Pioneering fashion-forward boutiques like Anna Sui are now alongside mainstream retailers like J. Crew and H&M. Soho is also a sceney dining district, home to be-seen restaurants like Balthazar, the Dutch, and Carbone. Soho is a safe place to wander during the day and night, since so many of its dining and drinking establishments are hopping until late. Guests will have no problem hailing a taxi anywhere to and from the hotel.
The James New York sits near the southern edge of Soho, just steps from TriBeCa. Together the two neighborhoods embody New York's haute bohemian downtown shopping and nightlife scene. Greenwich Village, meanwhile, is walking distance to the north. The Financial District is just beyond TriBeCa to the south. Canal Street, the border between Soho and TriBeCa, is an international bazaar of shops packed with everything from T-shirts to designer knockoffs. Late at night Canal clears out, though, and can feel a bit desolate. If visitors head east on Canal Street, a very different world awaits in Chinatown. This growing neighborhood, slowly taking over what used to be Little Italy, is at once an adventurer's dream and a smelly, crowded mess that some visitors might prefer to avoid.
One block from the A, C, E subway lines; two blocks from the 1, 2 lines
Seven-minute walk to the N, Q, R subway lines (at Canal St. Station)
11-minute walk to 4, 6 lines (at Spring St. Station)
17 minutes by subway to Penn Station
17 minutes by subway to South Street Seaport, a waterfront shop and restaurant hub in the Financial District
20 minutes by subway to Times Square, the Theater District, and Columbus Circle
20 minutes by subway to Battery Park, where the ferry terminal to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is located
25 minutes by subway to Rockefeller Center and Central Park
25 minutes by subway to the Museum of Modern Art
30 minutes by subway to the American Museum of Natural History
40 minutes by subway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bright, minimalist rooms with lots of thoughtful extras
The rooms at the James successfully mimic the aesthetic of the archetypal Soho loft -- an industrial building turned airy, arty apartment. The reclaimed wood floors, white walls, high ceilings, giant concrete pipes (in corner rooms), and innovative black-and-white privacy screens between the main area and the bathroom make you feel like you've wandered into the live-work studio of a successful neighborhood artist. Assuming that artist is a remarkably thoughtful host, that is: The rooms feature numerous specialized details, including natural linen bedspreads, turndown treats from Soho chocolatier Kee's, glass bottles of triple-distilled water by the bed, floor heating in the bathrooms, reading lights on the headboards, an eco-friendly pillow menu, and high-end toiletries.
Queen Guestrooms are 280 square feet and King Guestrooms are 315 square feet (Skyline King Guestrooms, located on the upper floors, are also 315 square feet, but come with views of the Hudson River). Corner Queen and King Studios are between 340 and 380 square feet; both feature large windows on two walls.
All rooms include Bluetooth-enabled speakers/alarms, minibars, coffee/tea makers, ironing equipment, large windows that open outward (uncommon in New York), and large flat-screen TVs (hung on exposed concrete pillars in some rooms and suites). Glassed-off peek-a-boo bathrooms feature remote-controlled privacy screens; rainfall showerheads; large dispensers of organic and gluten-free Intelligent Nutrients shampoo, conditioner, and body wash; robes and slippers; Turkish cotton towels; and heated floors.
Free Wi-Fi, a rooftop bar, fitness center, Urban Garden, and restaurant by celebrity chef David Burke
The hotel's outdoor spaces are a highlight, with its stylish outdoor pool and indoor/outdoor bar, Jimmy, on the rooftop. The second-floor Urban Garden features landscaped greenery, a chef's herb garden, a bar, and an outdoor dining area. The ground-floor David Burke Kitchen serves local and American cuisine; kid-friendly options are available. David Burke is open for dinner every night, breakfast and lunch on weekdays, and brunch on weekends. Free snacks are available in the lobby throughout the day: coffee and pastries in the morning, water and fruit in the afternoon, wine and cheese in the evening, and cookies late at night. Other amenities are the well-lit 24-hour fitness center on the 17th floor; the 800-square-foot event space with video conferencing capability; and two Mac computers in the lobby, available to use 24 hours a day, plus free printing and faxing. The James doesn't have a spa, but the hotel can arrange in-room massages, provided by Relax and Rejuvenate.
The James comes across as patently grown-up, but it does extend a considerable amount of its hospitality to families with children: Kids receive a welcome check-in gift, milk and cookies at turndown, and a DIY kit for oatmeal whoopie pies. The hotel also has loaner board games, Nintendo Wiis, and G-rated DVDs. The James accepts dogs of any size or weight, and charges a $75 cleaning fee. Sleeping pads and dog bowls provided by Soho pet shop Pup Culture, plus treats and toys are available for purchase. For every pet that stays at the hotel, the James makes a donation to local animal shelter Animal Haven. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.
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