There are two streets from which to enterthe back way of Lafayette Street or the main, garden courtyard way of Crosby Street. We sauntered up the latter, between their as-yet-unfinished Crosby Garden lounge and a brick wall sporting some NYC-typical graffiti. Entering into the building proper, the first thing we encountered was the lobbyor was it the lobby? Some seating pods of whimsical blue, silver and mirror-finish furniture were scattered about and the concierge desk sat to the side of the entrance to Top Chef Sam Talbot's Imperial No. 9 restaurant.
Where was the reception desk? We asked a bellman and he directed us up some stairs or an elevator, and we went the stairs as those seemed the path of least resistance. Finally, on the second floor, in a space tucked away from what will soon be the hopping buzz of the lower lobby, is the reception desk and a small outdoor terrace (for which they were unpackaging furniture) overlooking the Crosby Garden.
We were checked in by Shawn (Sean?) who was super nice and, although we expected some soft opening hiccups, he seemed to have it all under control. Our favorite part? His telling us that not only was continental breakfast free down in Imperial No. 9, but that the WiFi and the entire edible contents of the minibar were also free...and will stay free for guests until March 1. "Even the alcoholic beverages?" We asked, like a timid underager who's elated at making it into an open bar with a fake ID. "Even the alcoholic beverages," he returned. SCORE.
Let us reiterate something: the contents of the minibar are free for guests until March 1. So hellothat was the first thing we checked out after entering our room. We'll have more on that later, but rest assured that the moment we were done scoping out the place, we were in bed with San Pellegrino and Pop Chips. Mmm.
Our room 1606, the Standard King we had booked on the Mondrian's official website, was quite small. The Mondrian totally knows this, however, and so they're all about the liberal use of mirrored surfaces, white and cool colors to keep the place feeling larger than it actually is, though there's no denying that the Mondrian's cheap rooms are no place for a slumber party...or really anything more ambitious than an intimate evening.
The floor-to-ceiling windows were excellent; it's another trick to make the room appear larger, but our 16th-floor view due west completely overshadowed (literally, in early morning) the Soho Grand and made the Trump Soho look like it was way off in Chelsea or something. If you open the window (it won't allow for more than a breezy crack), there's even a view up to the Empire State Building. Not too shabby!
The bed? Oh yesthe bed! Well, it was very white, with blue toile decorative pillows and a white throw we immediately tossed aside. The mattress is still firm, but in the way that you know that's how it's supposed to be, because it's quality. We actually had an elevator conversation with another guest (a businessman) about this, and he was hastily naming them his favorite hotel beds ever.
A composite of two photos to give an idea of how the room looks when you walk in.
Like the room, the bathroom is quite tiny. No bathtub here, or separate toilet and shower rooms. The dinky sink sits on a tiny vanity, which overcompensates for its size by having a giant mirror above. It's in the same area as the desk/table, the latter acting as a space divider between the sleeping and bathroom areas. Open the door to the toilet, hit the back of the office chair (and anyone sitting in it), and enter what is also the shower area. A clear glass door separates the shower and the toilet, and Malin + Goetz toiletries await on a fancy ceramic shower shelf, which, when the water is on, quickly and annoyingly becomes a pond.
Please remember that this is a review of their soft opening period, but we have to say we had major problems with the bathroom. For one, the water pressure was sucky, from both the handheld sprayer and the regular showerhead. Were it any stronger though, the water would be spraying at the glass door and likely trickling onto the floor. Also there were no robes or slippers, which you expect from a hotel that seeks to bring in at least $400 a night for their rooms.
We have never seen so much Pabst Blue Ribbon in a minibar fridge as we did in the Mondrian Soho's last night. Not that that's a bad thing! Five PBRs may be just right for the Mondrian's demographic, though they may want to throw in a Heineken or two for good measure. There's none of the hard stuff (yet), but there was Tonic water, flat water, sparkling water, Mash juice drinks, a VitaminWater, Regular and Diet Coke, a bottle of Chablis and a bottle of Moet champagne. Most of that is now in our belly. The food options were minimal, this being soft opening, but the bag of assorted candy tempted. Was the Alexander Wang condom free? We didn't want to risk it.
For all the rest of you early adopters, remember that the minibar contents, WiFi and continental breakfast is free until March 1, but what's always free is using their in-room iPads. We frickin' loved these things. Sure, we're iPad people, but the Mondrian's app would be extremely easy and convenient even for guests who've never touched an Apple device before. We requested a bottle of Malin + Goetz body lotion be delivered via the housekeeping option, and it arrived to our room 15 minutes later. Tap...tap...done. You can also check in for your flights and print boarding passes, make reservations at Imperial No. 9, call up a bellman, contact the concierge, and make use of an assortment of other options directly through the app.
The main screen of the Mondrian's helpful app.
It may have been free for us now, but when it goes paid on March 1 it will only be $10 per day, says the front desk staff. It's actually worth it tooour 16th floor connection was very fast at all hours, though we'll have to revisit this when the hotel is full of people downloading media at night. *wink*
What We Liked:
Fast WiFi, ample outlets at the desk and built into the mirrored bedside tables, and the iPad all win us over on the tech front. The decor runs a bit feminine, but there's nothing wrong with that as we've seen from the success of the very nearby Crosby Street Hotel. The staff were also extremely abundant and very welcoming, with the exception of the one who burst in on our room (see below).
When Imperial No. 9, the Crosby Garden and the garden off reception all open, this place will be hopping with a whole new energy. It's a good thing, but we don't know how the Hong Kong businessman at breakfast this morning will like it. He was booked into the Mondrian Soho by his travel agent and had no idea it was opening day. It's a place perfect for partying on premises, but the desks in the room aren't large enough for getting work done, unless "work" is putting on your makeup or pregaming before heading out to dinner.
What We Didn't Like:
The lobby upstairs/downstairs situation was disorienting, even if we understand that separating reception from the ground floor buzz is for the good of the guests. Also, we were walked in on by the room service attendant who brought up our iPad-ordered lotion bottle. Luckily we were (mostly) decent, but it kinda freaked us out. One knock and then walk right in? Umm...no way. Do lock your door when inside your room; that's always a good rule.
A few more problems we encountered were extremely dark elevators, like we were in the elevator with a member of the staff who also had to nearly put his face up to the buttons to figure out which one he wanted to push. Can't those numbers light up? We're not old and have perfect vision, and yet we couldn't see squat in there. I can haz glowsticks?
Note: Don't even think about keeping the iPad and hope to God you don't damage it either. The fee for a broken or removed iPad is $800, even though they are the 16GB WiFi models which only retail for $500 each.
The Mondrian Soho could be a great hotel, but it still has much to overcome and it hasn't even been fully put to the test yet. Therefore it's unfair to flat-out judge it, so rest assured we'll continue to check back in on the place as the public discovers it. Right now, however, the amenities (iPad, fast WiFi, quality toiletries, awesome views) make up for some of the shortcomings (small rooms at high prices). If you can get a deal, book it and let us know what you think.
Stay Tuned: Tomorrow we'll show you around the public spaces, including Imperial No. 9
[All photos and video: HotelChatter]