The hotel is located on 22nd Street and 8th avenue in a five-story brick building which was originally built in 1912 and underwent a 12-month renovation to become a GEM Hotel. (The GEM bit comes from the owners, Gemini Hospitality.)
The lobby is a fairly large and open space with all the modern amenities to keep you entertained while you wait for your room or for a meeting. Two flat-screen TVs and sofas flank the front desk. On the opposite wall is a giant painting from artist Michael Mutt who also has some other works in the adjacent art gallery next to the hotel.
When we arrived at the GEM around 7pm at night, a front desk clerk was immediately ready to check us in. Soon, we were on our way to the third floor.
There is only one elevator in the hotel, and the short walk to our room was a little confusing because there were three hallways of rooms. (Imagine the floor layout as three highway lanes.) There are plenty of room-number signs to guide you, but we had trouble counting. Nevertheless we arrived at Room 316 a few seconds later feeling a little silly. Note: rooms ending in 15-20 are closest to the street but only a few will have actual street views. The rest of the rooms look out onto the other parts of the building.
There is no denying this is a small and simple room. The largest bed size offered in the hotel is a queen, yet there is room for a nightstand and a small wardrobe on either side of the bed. And there's plenty of room in front of the bed as well. Even enough for a yoga mat (that's BYOYM though.)
A flat-screen TV is mounted on the wall opposite the bed and beneath it, sits a simple white desk. Really the only jazzy stuff in here are the silhouettes.
The bathroom is also small with just a shower. Yet we give props to the hotel for having a water-conserving toilet flushers (like you see in Europe with two flush options) and for having sleek-looking shampoo and conditioner dispensers on the shower wall. The room view is typical of NYC hotels a view of the other hotel rooms.
This is where GEM really shines. The hotel offers free SEI water bottles (shaped like flasks) totally complimentary. Also complimentary is the in-room Wolfgang Puck coffee which is a nice gesture in this day and age of nickel and diming hotel guests.
Rounding out the amenities are the iPod docking station/alarm clock, the bathrobes, an iron, and a little spritzer of soothing pillow mist to help you sleep. The hotel also offers a free shoe-shine service, but we didn't use that. The hotel does not have room service or continental breakfast in the lobby, but take-out menus are available at the front desk for delivery service.
Free, fast working wireless internet. The front desk will give you the code at check-in. Hallelujah.
Location, Location, Location
The hotel is located just off the busy 8th Avenue in Chelsea but Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, a bagel shop, a giant CVS and Jamba Juice are all within two short blocks. Cabs are easy to hail and the C, E subway stops at 23rd Street. Penn Station's Amtrak hub is just nine blocks away too.
What We Liked
The free water bottles in-room were a life-saver and the entire hotel smelled really good. It was a floral scent but nothing too sickening. We also liked the hotel's small size. There's only 81 rooms.
What We Didn't Like
The bed's linens were a little scratchy but the bed itself and the pillows were soft. So it was a bit of a tease, sinking into a soft, scratchy bed.
The hotel is the perfect spot for frequent visitors to New York who don't have a lot of luggage and who already have their favorite places to eat, drink and play all picked out. Plus, you can't beat the free amenities they offer in-room. First-timers to New York will probably be put off by the size of the hotel rooms but hey, this is NYC. Even 60 Thompson has small rooms. Hopefully, the amenities and the convenient location will balance that out.
Room rates for tomorrow night were currently going for $159. At times, we've seen this property creep past $200 a night and at that point, it's probably too much for what you're getting. If you can get the room for somewhere between $159 and $189 (or less), then it's a good deal.
Because our recent tour of New York hotels left us nearly broke by the second week of June, we requested and received a media rate of $99 for the GEM Hotel Chelsea.