Of all the now countless hotels in downtown Manhattan (and we remember when there was the SoHo Grand, and that was your lot), there are certain things about the New York outpost of London’s Firmdale boutique group, the Crosby Street Hotel, that make it our favourite hotel between Canal Street and Washington Square. The main thing is – the light.
Autumn is the time of year when New York and London really shine. There’s that beautiful, low, golden sunlight that makes the streets so Instagram-worthy, while the temperature has dropped low enough for us to start wearing the autumn/winter goodies we plucked from the rails at the start of the season (perversely, over three months ago).
We’ve had many a wonderful afternoon sitting on a ledge in one of the rooms at Crosby Street, looking out to the corner occupied by Balthazar, with Bloomingdales just beyond it. We can’t think of another hotel that has floor to ceiling windows yet feels so connected to the city that it’s in. And if there are certain visual elements of Kit Kemp’s designs that we sometimes find too busy in the London hotels, then Crosby Street is the property that shows her work off best. The obsession with acids, incredibly stylised florals and dandy light fittings all gets absorbed with aplomb in the near industrial scale of Crosby Street, alongside the framed vintage gowns stuffed with dried flowers. It’s romantic and modern. But not for minimalists.
We really like the restaurant at the Crosby Street, with its old fashioned black Bakelite telephones on the wall, its Moorish jewel-coloured pendant lights and the moreish gastropub menu. And we love the screening room downstairs, where we had the delight of watching a screaming match (“Wearing a white suit doesn’t make you a f––ing artist!”) between a typically forthright Anthony Haden Guest and an unamused Karim Rashid, during an Illy-sponsored, Joan Juliet Buck-chaired, Paul Schrader- and Jonas Mekas-attended Liberatum forum event back in the spring. This might be the coolest private screening room in Manhattan, rucks between aesthetes and all.
But our favourite aspect of the Crosby Street Hotel is the Meadow Suite. The space itself is, as you’d expect, nice – but the real sell is the impeccable landscaping in the private courtyard on the terrace. The flowerbed takes up an indulgent amount of space, leaving just a narrow walkway and inhabitable terrace around it, while the gentle, wild, unstructured touch of the gardener is truly lovely, and brings to mind Howard Sooley’s pagan-infused images of Derek Jarman’s garden in Dungeness.
It’s a true native woodland meadow, with over 50 varieties of flowering plants, and shades of green that really chime with Kit Kemp’s aesthetic. There’s butterfly weed, false indigo, blueberry, aster, sumac and echinacea. It looks effortless and beautiful, as if it’s just happened, but there’s nothing pedestrian about the choices at all. And it’s designed to be ravishing in every season. Difficult to believe that Balthazar is just 30 seconds away… C
Crosby Street Hotel, 79 Crosby Street, New York 10012 USA
+1 212 226 6400; firmdalehotels.com