When I stepped into the lobby of Hotel Giraffe, decorated in warm beiges and oranges like the animal for which it is named, I immediately understood why Trip Advisor selected it as one of the top ten hotels in New York. With a bar stocked with muffins, lemon water, and coffee for guests and a surprisingly calm, quiet atmosphere despite the hustle and bustle outside, the hotel already felt to me like a home away from home.
Ashley Van Goehring, the director of sales and marketing, met me as I admired the piano at the center of the lofty space. She explained that every day from 5pm to 8pm, wine and cheese is provided to guests and that live piano music is played during that time on weekdays. Knowing that, I was impressed before seeing any of the rooms.
While riding up in the elevator, Ashley told me about the hotel’s origins. Unlike the other Library Hotel Collection properties, Henry Kallan, the owner, wanted to build Hotel Giraffe from scratch. He teamed up with an architect and started to design an Art Deco building with a modern interior. He chose to have a third of the rooms be suites so that there would be more spacious options for families, including larger bathrooms, not often found in New York hotels. Henry Kallan, being fond of giraffes, chose to christen his newest venture “Hotel Giraffe.” “It was kismet,” Ashley said with a smile.
As I walked down one of the many hallways with Ashley, she pointed out that every floor has thematic modern photography. Although not obvious - “This is not a safari hotel,” Ashley affirmed - every floor hints at the giraffe, including printed number plates on the doors. Ashley invited me into an impressively large suite and immediately escorted me onto a “tiny Juliet balcony” that provided a view of Madison Square Park. She then excitedly beckoned me back inside and shut the door. Shockingly, the sound of the busy street below was instantly muted. Ashley explained that the doors are double-paned and sound-proofed. “We understand it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep in New York,” she admitted before mentioning the complimentary eye mask and earplugs that are offered to each guest. "We even provide the option to deliver Sleepytime tea to our guests," she added.
As I explored the room, complete with a pull-out sofa, roomy bedroom, and large windows, my attention was drawn to the bookshelf. As someone who owned a bookstore, I was excited to learn that the Library Hotel Collection works with The Strand to curate all the books in the guest rooms. Ashley let me know that while each room's literary sampling is different, a copy of Tall Blondes – a book about giraffes – can be found on every shelf.
As we continued to explore the hotel, it became very clear that though every amenity had been carefully thought out, the real treasure of Hotel Giraffe is the staff. Ashley informed me that there is not a lot of turnover with employees and that the Library Hotel Collection tends to promote from within, meaning that not only is the staff very well trained, but guests can be assured of some consistency in management. I learned that the doorman, Jose, has been at the hotel since it opened in December of 1999. The company is also close-knit, and so employees are able to cycle through the properties. “I have the other hotels on speed dial,” Ashley admitted to me. “We are all unique, and a little bit quirky.”
As we were saying our good byes, I mentioned my original shock at how quiet and calm the hotel seemed. Ashley nodded and said, “This is the perfect place in New York for an urban safari.” Guests can set out on expeditions throughout Manhattan’s varied neighborhoods and then return at the end of the day to a place that “will always feel like home.”
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.
Opened in 1903 as a place for only women to reside, this hotel on 29th Street has continually operated under many different names and owners (most recently, it has been known as the King and Grove and the Martha Washington). At the start, it attracted primarily those in business, but also had several noteworthy female guests who were actresses, writers and poets. It was not until the late 1990s that men were allowed to book rooms. Today, it has been completely renovated and updated, and invites people from around the globe to stay. The lobby is attractive and the rooms are small, but perfectly outfitted for traveler's needs.
While the red door is bright and unmistakable, it doesn’t even begin to speak of what is inside. Through a darkly lit and colorfully painted stairwell, we come upon the lobby of Ye Olde Carlton Arms Hotel. Wood paneled walls and colorful ceiling lights become the backdrop for the many painted murals. A dressed-up skeleton, a smiling Mona Lisa, and an old television transport this inn back in time, gesturing towards the long history that hides behind each door. Also known as the Artbreak Hotel, this 52-room building was once gas-lit, housing farmers and businessmen alike. The lobby was once a speakeasy during Prohibition, later a “hang out for drag queens, prostitutes, and drug addicts, ” and then, a single-room occupancy hotel for the poor in the 60s. In 1983, owner Ed Ryan chose to redirect its future, and brought masses of art into the building - soon enough each room was muraled, sculpted, designed, and transformed by different artists. Today, each room is unique and colorful – a true art exhibit that happens to also act as a bedroom.
Alessandra and Mario De Benedetti had never been in the restaurant business. She was a law professor and he was in finance - both living in Italy. When a passion burns inside you, however, and a desire to live in NYC is so strong, why not change careers and pursue your dream? This is exactly what the dynamic duo chose to do. Working alongside Elizabeth Roberts, architect extraordinaire, the team created a space built for dramatic floral arrangements and an enchanting atmosphere for dining. Alessandra combined her love of flowers by integrating them into the restaurant's splendid cocktails, specialty dishes and magnificent displays. In 2019, their dream finally became a reality as they opened the doors of Il Florista on West 26th Street.
Crossroads Trading Company now has almost thirty locations around the United States, but even in Manhattan they keep their original relaxed Bay Area vibe. The company began in Berkeley in 1991 and has since become a hub for recycling both men and women's clothing with the goal of helping the environment and working to eliminate waste. Locals are welcome to come in and sell their gently used garments for cash or credit... and while there, hopefully browse for something
If one were to close their eyes and walk into Hill Country, there is no doubt that in an instant they would know what kind of food was being prepared. At Hill Country, they take their barbecue very seriously. The food is prepared in their very own custom meat-smoking room, and everything is done in the style of Central Texas barbecue. The atmosphere is kitschy and relaxed, with live American music most nights of the week.
When Ashley Van Goehring, Hotel Giraffe’s director of sales and marketing, led me up to the rooftop bar as part of a tour of the entire building, I did not expect to find such a quiet nook. Despite being in the middle of the busy Flatiron district, the patio’s height and warm red brick border meant that the sky-high courtyard is reasonably silent. It is also beautiful: every inch appeared to be carefully designed with hanging plants, potted shrubs, and striped deck furniture that hinted at the hotel’s name. There is even a metallic giraffe statue in the corner, named after owner, Henry Kallan's granddaughter, Jesse. The seasonal rooftop does not remain quiet at night. Though the garden is only open to guests during the day, at night it turns into a cocktail bar, run by Bread and Tulips, the restaurant attached to Hotel Giraffe. The tucked-away space is also attached to the hotel’s private event room, which has a little roof terrace of its own. Ashley told us that the room had been used as Big’s apartment in the Sex and the City movie, and pointed out the little details that can be seen in some of the film scenes. The small attached patio shows just as much care and attention to detail as the larger rooftop bar, with potted flowers and warm, giraffe-inspired colors. Staring out at the sunny view, Ashley turned to me and said, “It’s nice to be reminded that this city is not just the place where I live. It’s a magical place. ”
Whenever Rebecca, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, asked her glamorous college roommate from Arizona where she had bought whatever fabulous item of clothing she was wearing, the answer was always the same... Buffalo Exchange. Founded in 1974 by Kerstin Block in Arizona, it was one of the first used clothing shops to open in the country. The store offers its patrons a place to buy, sell, or trade second-hand garments so that they can find a new life in someone else's wardrobe. Today, Kerstin continues to run her company with the help of her daughter, Rebecca, and they have expanded to forty-seven stores nationwide. The company has maintained its funky, fun vibe and reasonable prices even as it has grown so large.