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It Turns Out New York Does Have Room For Two Porthole Hotels

Where: 346 West 17th Street [map], New York, NY, United States, 10011
June 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM | by | ()

Last week, we got to take a peek inside a hotel we have wanted to see for a very, very long time. The Dream Downtown is still in that cute, newborn, silent wonder phase: there's still obviously a lot of work to be done, but it's so pretty, we couldn't help but coo into its silver polished face. Let us paint you a little picture. Inside the lobby, you are immediately welcomed into a huge atrium: the left-hand side opens into a long, satisfying fifty-foot stretch joining the front waiting area to the garden staircase; meanwhile, on the other side, sunken three feet into the floor, is Marble Lane, the hotel's steakhouse-inspired restaurant helmed by Manuel Trevino. Yes, Marble Lane's oversized lightbulbs remind us very much of the W London Leicester Square; and yes, Ferrari provided the leather for the booths.

Just to point out—we haven't seen lobbies this large in any of New York's latest openings (Mondrian Soho, W New York Downtown, The James New York). So while we allowed ourselves to get impatient over the Dream Downtown's delayed opening, it's clear they took their time to figure out how to really use the $70 million space. Which our square-footage-deprived, railroad-apartment-dwelling selves can appreciate.

At the far end of the lobby, take a secret-garden-like outdoor staircase (also flanked in steel on all sides) up to the pool area, which somehow manages to be both secluded and not. While it is completely enclosed by the hotel's two main towers (the north tower holds three quarters of the rooms, while another 80 odd rooms are tucked away in the 16th Street-facing annex), the privacy barrier between the hotel's pool and neighboring apartment buildings is virtually none.

Our tour guide also expressed concern that with so much cheesegrater steel everywhere, the sun's glare might prove too much for sunbathers. Only time—or several incidents of sunstroke—will tell. As you've already heard, Dream Downtown has built windows between the bottom of the pool and the ceiling of the lobby. Which kind of makes the place feel like an upscale aquarium, but also highlights the architect team's attention to light. Even inside the hotel's four elevators, fluorescent panels bounce the light back and forth between the mirrored walls.

Which drives home another design point about the 316-room, porthole-crazy hotel—all of its interior spaces make use of three main materials: teak, steel, and glass. And because the lines are so clean everywhere you look (square bathrooms sinks, ro und windows, perfectly rectangular pool), the Dream Downtown achieves a real sense of understated elegance. Here are our notes on the rooms:

·The Presidential Suite, which we only gazed at longingly from above (at PHD, the hotel's rectangular rooftop bar), can open up into four separate bedrooms and offers a huge terrace with cedar hot tub. The price? $15,000 per night.

·Rooms, which are divided into four main categories (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) generally run on the small side. A Bronze Room has the same feels as a Yotel Premium Cabin—except minus the retractable bed. Also, the number, and size, of porthole windows in each room varies (a Bronze may only have three while a King Suite may run upwards of ten).

·Each room has a media station consisting of a wireless keyboard, a 40-inch flat-screen, and a side panel for all your USB, mp3, and power input needs. So not only can you use your room as an office, you can plug in, load up, and carry the keyboard right into bed with you.

·Get ready for metallic wallpaper. We can't say we hated it.

·Bathrooms all have square steel sinks with sunken soap dishes, and some rooms have square steel bathtubs. Showers are enclosed in frosted glass, which makes for minimal peepage—all bathroom walls were originally slated to have one-way glass, but developers deemed it "too risque."

Check back in the next few weeks for photos of the rooms, and rate updates (the current $295 a night opening rate, managing director Michael Lindenbaum told us, will only last another week or two). But if you can, stop inside and take a look for yourself. The Dream done good, we think. Though the New York TImes originally questioned the soundness of this project, it turns out the town is in fact big enough for not one but two porthole hotels.

[Photos: HotelChatter]

PS: If you didn't guess it on Friday, our mystery lobby photo was taken here at Dream Downtown. Way to go Mondo Twisto, who nailed it in one!

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