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It's hard to believe that broke artists once flocked to Manhattan's Lower East Side for the cheap rent; nowadays even a Holiday Inn will set you back over three hundred bucks for one night.
The last couple of decades of gentrification in the LES is now manifesting itself as a bundle of new hotel construction projects in the area. Hotels definitely in the works include the long-delayed 180 Ludlow, a third Hotel Indigo, Peter Poon Architects' skyscraping Hotel Bowery, and what will be New York City's second CitizenM. Just last week, too, we heard rumour of two new Ace Hotels also coming to the area. So we decided it was time for a round-up of what's on offer in the LES right now.
You may be scrambling to find those last-minute Christmas gifts, but you'll want to make a New Year's resolution to drop those procrastination tendencies to get this deal from GEM Hotels. If you book early and prepay in full, you can get 20 percent off of your room.
You really have to be a planner for this one. The New York chain, which has hotels in Chelsea, Midtown West and Soho, will slash the rates, but you will have to pay it all upfront, it's nonrefundable and no changes are allowed. Though you'll be rewarded with rates as low as $135 a night, which is pretty darn good for a Manhattan hotel.
We recently saw this new Ascend Collection Hotel pop up in our hotel listing for New York and immediately we had two questions: One, what is it? and two, is Solita some sort of new NYC neighborhood?
As far as we can tell the Solita Soho Hotel is a cute little budget option downtown and that Solita is not a new nabe term in Manhattan. The hotel is sandwiched between Little Italy and Chinatown with Soho close by so it could be a Solita of sorts. Otherwise, you can just call the area by it's better-known name--Chinatown.
Yesterday, our hotel spy, Myra Ellen, told us about the drilling that interrupted her stay at the Distrikt Hotel as well as a few other glitches. The hotel had told us that they would accommodate any guests who complained about the drilling noise with a new room on a different floor. But today they wanted to address the other issues that our hotel spy had. Here is the Distrikt's full response:
The Staff and Management of Distrikt Hotel are distressed that we were unable to exceed the expectations of this guest as we have with so many others. While we strive to greet every guest at the door, we are disappointed that this and the check-in process was less than acceptable by our own standards.
Our very own hotel Agent Zero returns with yet another review. Her not-real name is Myra Ellen and she's our version of Alex Goran who travels once a week for business, usually along the Eastern seaboard. Every so often, she'll be dropping in with her latest hotel and travel observations. In this episode, she tries out a new hotel in Manhattan.
The scaffolding obscuring the entrance should have been my first ominous clue as I arrived at the new Distrikt Hotel, on a dark block and an easy walk from Penn Station.
The doorman ignores me when I enter. I'm happy for one less polite but pointless exchange in my day, but when I overhear a desk clerk tell someone else who's checking-in about their breakfast options, while my desk clerk says nary a word about it to me, I realize what's going on: this is not my kind of place.
The Distrikt Hotel may have opened two months ago but if you haven’t checked in yet, you haven’t missed out on opening rates. The Hell’s Kitchen-area hotel is offering rooms from $159 a night through April 30.
The press release informing us of this good news also told us that the Distrikt has joined the Ascend Collection, a network of historic, boutique, and unique Choice Hotels properties across the U.S. and Caribbean. After some memory dusting, we realized this was always part of the plan, from back when we first started tracking the Distrikt— but with free WiFi as part of the deal, it bears repeating.
One of our favorite milestones when tracking a new hotel opening is the release of photos. Not renderings, not collages, but full color pictures of the guestrooms we’re so eager to check into. Today The Distrikt Hotel reaches that milestone by posting photos on its Facebook page.
We’ve been dying for a glimpse inside the hotel since the funky collages on the website--while arty and cool--left us without a clue as to room design. Now The Distrikt delivers and we’re both relieved and disappointed.
Relieved that the neighborhood theme is not an OTT mish-mash as it could have been, but a little sad that the décor plays it so safe. For all its savvy marketing, The Distrikt looks pretty middle-of-the-road when it comes to design. The rooms look nice in these photos—but "nice" means a place your mom would be comfortable staying. (That is, if she isn’t scared off by the funky name.) And that’s just not what we were expecting here.
Get out your Hotel Opening Date Tracking Sheet, friends, because it’s time for a little update on Manhattan’s Distrikt Hotel. We’re dying to see this place: the NYC-neighborhood theme is one of the most interesting we’ve heard of all year, and we can’t wait to see which floors—each named after a different part of the city—will become the most sought after. (It seems apt that the Financial District is on the lowest floor, and Harlem on the highest, no?)
Alas, it looks like we’ll have to wait a few more weeks. While the hotel’s website is still promising an opening in “late fall,” and a press rep for the Distrikt told us the doors would open on November 15th, we’ve since heard that the big day would be pushed back to December 1st.
It looks like the (tentatively named) Fashion 26 won't be the only new hotel gracing the island of Manhattan this fall. The Distrikt Hotel is set to debut on October 28 on West 40th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, bringing a new and exciting alternative for accommodations near Times Square (finally!) Here's the official description of the hotel:
New York City itself inspires the décor with floors representing 10 different neighborhoods or districts beginning with a Central Park living wall in the lobby and renderings of Manhattan's grid around the elevators.
We hear the hotel floors will be arranged in order according to their locations so the Financial District will be the lowest floor and Harlem will be the highest. Cool!
But there's a whole lot more going on at Distrikt. The 32-story skyscraper is actually an Ascend Collection hotel, a Choice Hotels brand, which means very good things for guests--like free wireless internet. We used this service at another Ascend Collection hotel--the GEM Hotel Chelsea--and it was blazing fast.
A few weeks ago one of the first Ascend Hotels opened in New York City--the Gem Hotel in Chelsea. If you remember, Ascend is the new Clarion Collection from Choice Hotels. And today we also walked by another Gem Hotel--this time in the Lower East Side.
Despite the hotel's location on Houston Street and Eldridge (which is clearly LES turf), the hotel's name is listed as Soho. Hmm...not quite. But you are just two short blocks away from the massive Whole Foods store.
Just like the Chelsea location, rooms here look small with nothing in it aside from a massive white fluffy-looking bed and a flat-screen TV. Sometimes, that's all you need. Rates were going for tonight at $189 a night which is not bad. Except we paid $170 a night for our room at Thompson LES.
Mad props to Amy over at NewYorkology for being all up in the grill of the new Gem Hotel in Chelsea and getting the scoop on the opening rates. As you may recall, the Gem is part of Choice Hotel's brand-new Ascend Hotels brand. Amy writes:
So far, 35 of the hotel’s rooms are ready for occupancy. All 81 should be complete early next week. The $189 rate is good through the end of the month, including at Thanksgiving. There is no restaurant on premises, but rooms feature plasma TVs, Gilchrist & Soames bath products, bath robes and free shoe shine service. There’s free high-speed Internet in rooms, and wi-fi in the lobby.
Also, the hotel is completely 100 percent smoke-free. Dayum. This is an amazing deal. Free WiFi, Gilchrist and Soames toiletries and a free shoe shine? We were about to book it but we noticed on the website that the rooms look teeny. So you decide--more room to move about or free WiFi in a room for under $200 in NYC?
· Choice Hotels Announces Ascend Collection of Hotel [HotelChatter]
· Gem hotel officially open in Chelsea with $189 room [NewYorkology]
Choice Hotels has been busy lately, what with ads about dog poop and several promotions for their Choice Privileges loyalty program. Today, they have another announcement--the formal launch of their Ascend Collection of hotels in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
Ascend Collection properties, all of which are historic, boutique, or unique hotels, must meet well-defined membership criteria and demonstrate a commitment to service excellence. Travelers have the peace of mind that comes with staying at hotels that offer authentic experiences and attentive guest care yet are still a part of one of the world’s largest lodging companies.
Choice Hotels actually announced their plans for Ascend way back in May. While there are a few historic properties in the collection, Choice is also re-branding several of their Clarion hotels as Ascend. Some Ascend properties to look for? There's three in New York City under the GEM Hotel name as well as the Golden Hotel in Colorado, and the historic Hotel Bothwell in Missouri. For more on the brand and its hotels, go to AscendCollection.com.
We're guessing Choice Hotels won't be releasing any ads involving dog poop for this brand. Just a thought.