Innside Hotel, a NoMad-based property by Melia Hotels International, effortlessly combines a minimalist, stylish, global sensibility with an artsy and innovative vibe that is firmly rooted in local New York culture. The Manhattan Sideways Team was impressed from the moment we walked through the airy, plant-lined, street-side terrace into the sleek, colorful lobby. Framed by the orange-and-silver paneled wall behind them, two receptionists beamed and waved at us from a desk that emanated a glowing, purple light.
The manager of the hotel informed us that the reception staff double as concierges: they are savvy New Yorkers with an encyclopedic knowledge of the city that will serve any tourist extremely well. “We hire people not just for their experience, but for their passion,” he said.
As we went up to the seventeenth floor to check out the room facilities, we caught a beautiful view of the Empire State Building through the windows in the hallway. Location is one of Innside’s biggest draws: In addition to the iconic building, Innside is in walking distance from the High Line, Times Square, and Broadway - Perfect for any tourist.
The room we visited had a German-inspired aesthetic that is elegant, modernist, and eminently functional. Everything was clean and white (barring a pair of funky yellow cushions) with ambient lighting, USB outlets, an espresso machine, a complimentary non-alcoholic minibar, and, of course, gorgeous views of the New York skyline.
In addition to conference rooms, Innside boasts Google-style “creative rooms” for social or business gatherings geared towards ideas and innovation. These rooms feature fun and colorful décor, comfortable furniture, fitness balls, high tech SMART boards, built-in audio-visual equipment, and an all-inclusive mini-bar and coffee station.
To top it all off, Innside manages the restaurant Impero Caffe, which is headed by award-winning celebrity chef Scott Conant and offers outstanding, rustic Italian cuisine.
How is this for an architect’s resume: The Dakota (known today as the apartment building where John Lennon was shot), the original Waldorf and Astoria hotels, (subsequently torn down to make room for the Empire State Building), the Plaza Hotel, the Willard Hotel in DC and the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. Henry Janeway Hardenbergh designed the Hotel Martinique in two phases: the first part opened in 1898, and was then completed in 1910, with 600 rooms in total. The intricate mosaic flooring remains intact, as does the winding staircase that climbs eighteen stories.
All my assumptions about the Hyatt Herald Square were dashed upon entering the lobby. I assumed that the Hyatt Herald Square, as part of such a well-known, far reaching hotel brand, would be a reasonably generic, glamorous hotel like one would find in any other major city. I could not have been more wrong. As soon as I stepped inside and saw the fascinating art pieces, chic espresso bar, and unique layout, I realized that this was something special. The concierge is hidden at the back of the lobby, rather than the front, which invited me to explore the lobby’s many treasures before speaking to the staff. A series of clocks on the wall, inspired by Salvador Dali and echoing the shape and color of gourds, displayed the time zones of all the major fashion capitals. Plug ports were located by every seat so that guests could easily rejuice phones or work on laptops. Winding my way to the back, I met Nina Jones, the director of sales and marketing. She explained that all the main Hyatt hotels try to draw inspiration in their décor from the surrounding area’s history and culture. For the Hyatt Herald Square, that means drawing on the publishing and fashion worlds. Nina pointed out that the front desk was made from layers of old newspaper, and the brightly colored books creating a rainbow on the back wall were influenced by media and fashion. Nina went on to say that “Herald Heart, ” the spiraling mobile at the entrance, is made up of 151 sentences, carved from wood, representing the past and present of Herald Square. Having spoken with executive chef Gunnar Steden at Up on 20, I knew that the cuisine at the Hyatt uses local ingredients as much as possible and that even the snack counter around the corner stocks mostly treats from the Tri-State area. As I sipped on a Double Standard Sour in a classy pink hue at the lobby bar, Nina wowed me with the fact that most of the surfaces in the lobby are made from repurposed water tower wood. I left the Hyatt that day feeling like I had received a lesson in the history and culture of New York, as well as having been given a dose of highly-honed hospitality.
In the Ace Hotel, the lobby reigns king. Comfortable chairs and stone tile work make for a comfy spot to work in the daytime, particularly over a cup of adjacent Stumptown coffee. At night, the scene heats up and soft drinks are replaced with harder ones, and the furniture is sometimes cleared out to host live bands. Grand columns squat like sequoias in the middle of the floor. At the hotel desk, a record collection curated by Other Music is kept for retail. And if this is not enough to entice a traveler to make reservations, The Breslin, a trendy restaurant awaits.
A placard marking the Chelsea Hotel's landmark status reads, “The Chelsea was opened in 1884 as one of the city’s earliest cooperative apartment houses. It became a hotel about 1905... Artists and writers who have lived here include Arthur B. Davies, James T. Farrell, Robert Flaherty, O. Henry, John Sloan, Dylan Thomas and Thomas Wolfe. " One of the most important buildings in all of New York in the last Century, The Chelsea, with its bright red exterior and ornate iron balconies, still stands tall today. The past may never come back, but the new owners of this incredible landmark have told all of the long-time current residents of the hotel that he wants to restore the feel that the hotel had in the 1960s, just without all of the drugs and drama. The original owner, Stanley Bard, should take full credit for making it famous, gave musicians and other artists a place to live when no one else would. He “trusted everyone, ” and “understood all of the artists that lived and stayed here, ” according to Dan Courtenay, a resident of the hotel and owner of Chelsea Guitars on the ground floor - Bard appreciated what Manhattan was all about, he “was the heart of the place. ” The Chelsea hotel is where Andy Warhol threw an assassination party after the death of JFK -- where many Titanic survivors took refuge in 1912 -- where Betsy Johnson created the mini skirt -- Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Mark Rothko, James Schuyler, Arthur C. Clarke, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen all spent time at this hotel, walking its hallways and working on their art. Today, the ghosts of former tenants are said to roam the halls, and the hotel gives off an air of mystery and fame.
“By accident, ” answered Olga Blanco when I asked her how she got her start in the printing business. Her husband started Nobel Printing in 1979, and Olga took over a short while later when he became ill. “I learned and I kept going, ” she smiled, remembering a time when the business was new to her. She, in turn, has taught her son, who works for a printing company in Florida. Olga shared with me that when her son's business decided to use the traditional printing press in an effort to distinguish themselves from others, his knowledge of the machine lead to a promotion. “No one else knows how to use these, ” she gushed, “so they increased his pay. ”Originally from Columbia, Olga journeyed to the States in 1969 at the age of seventeen. Since living here, she has seen a lot of changes, many of which have had an negative impact on her custom printing company. “Everything is digital these days, ” she rationalized, "And everyone thinks they are a designer. ” With so many people in possession of a computer and the means to make their own digital copies, her fears are not unwarranted. Topped off with rising rents, Olga is not sure her business will operate for longer than a few more years. Indeed, she has seen many others pushed out of the neighborhood for similar reasons. “The real estate business is hungry for money, ” she said, shaking her head. Despite the obstacles, Olga remains quite confident in the product, itself. She happily deals solely in custom printing, taking on any job no matter the size and “creating something beautiful. ” When I visited in the summer of 2016, Olga was working on a wedding order of 2000 invites and could not conceal her passion for the project. She showed me her early drafts, pulling out the quality card stock and brushing her fingertips over a soft design that depicted a tree just in bloom. There is no replacement for “that human touch. ”
Co-founded in 1994 by former number one middleweight boxer, Michael Olajide, and Leila Fazel, a former ballerina, Aerospace claims to offer “a revolutionary new fitness that engages body, mind, and spirit. ” Leila explained that the Aerospace workout is “revolutionary” in two ways: first, it does not involve any machines, and second, it has its foundation in athlete-level boxing to engage cardio, muscle endurance, and core strength. The company has its own boxing ring and jump rope line. We had the pleasure of seeing Michael, who lost vision in one of his eyes in the early 1990s, guide a student through some boxing combinations as part of the Aerospace workout. Although Michael and Leila intend to maintain the “authenticity of boxing” in their program, Aerospace is open to everyone, with or without boxing experience. While some learn to hit bags on the second floor, others in a more advanced program spar in the boxing ring on the first floor. Leila also runs a workout that combines shadow boxing with ballet.
Jon Eisen is not only one of the partners of Between the Bread and its director of strategic growth, but he is also heir to one of the pioneers of the venture, which has delivered sandwiches to office workers since 1979. Ricky Eisen, Jon’s mother and the company’s president - who was born on the outskirts of Tel Aviv - decided to use large-scale catering to bring healthy meals to her clients in a more efficient way. Jon claims that the result was the first catering company in New York City. Ricky’s idea to use only healthy and local ingredients proved to be a pivotal moment in the way catering to corporate clients is done today. In 2013, Ricky put her son in charge of the retail and café side of the business, which up until that point had been secondary to catering. Recognizing the recent popular trend of eating healthy and local, Jon quickly began streamlining the production process, including installing digital cash registers to track customer orders. This lead to a doubling of revenue. His success prompted Ricky to name him partner in 2015. Despite these changes, the core of the business is still the same: using organic, fresh, and seasonal to serve “high quality meals. ” And to hear it from Jon and the head of brand strategy, Victoria Rolandelli, this core seems to resonate well with customers. Between the Bread opened two more locations in October 2015 and has plans to have a total of twelve locations throughout the city. Located in the Chelsea Terminal Warehouse, the 27th Street Between the Bread is in a massive space that was previously an unloading station for trains. In the not-too-distant future, once Hudson Yards is complete, it is Jon's hope that they will become the "new Chelsea Market. "
Originally constructed in 1905, this building became the home of the beloved Gershwin Hotel in 1992. In 2014, Triumph Hotels took over the space and invested a good deal in renovations, renaming it The Evelyn. As an homage to building’s artful and musical past, the guest rooms feature music note-tiled bathrooms, trombone-shaped chandeliers, and decorations inspired by the Art Nouveau style of the 1900s.