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As usual, we were leafing through the NY Times Travel section this weekend, making mental notes about how we should plan on visiting East Frisia to try the tea, and, how we need to check out that newly reopened "Shalom" hotel in Tel Aviv, when something caught our eye.
It was in an article talking about the new trend of "stylish hostels" popping up in places like Mexico City, Singapore, Reykjavik and São Paulo. Of course, one of the more interesting "hotels" we recently reviewed was Freehand Miami, a hip $21/night hostel that's run by the Sydell Group (the same company responsible for The NoMad, Ace New York and Saguaro Palm Springs.)
Now, for the exciting part: the article casually mentions that the Sydell Group is planning to take the Freehand concept nationwide (yay!), and the next location will be New York (double yay!).
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Inside an 8-bed room
No one ever got anywhere by calling something a "revolutionary concept." That phrase is played out right along with "funky fresh." Instead let us say this: if Freehand Miami plays its cards right and doesn't get too big for its britches (double idiom sentence!), it has the real potential to be crazy awesome and quickly multiply to conquer cities beyond Miami. Oh wait, that's exactly their plan (for 10 properties!), so what you're about to read is the future, baby.
The Freehand is a hostel with some private rooms and it's not trying to hide that fact. It is, however, a fancy hostel with an interior by Roman & Williams, staff uniforms designed by Timo Weiland, artwork by local Miami artists, and cocktails by Bar Lab.
Shared bunk rooms start at $21 a night (per person), while private rooms begin at $109 (per room). Beyond the rooms (8-bunk, 4-bunk, private king) the Freehand benefits from an inviting lobby, a bar (The Broken Shaker), back garden courtyard, a lovely pool, a side garden of table tennis and other yard games and, eventually, there'll even be a restaurant.
We stayed for three nights at the beginning of Art Basel, the week of their debut, paying a total of $122 for two people in the coed 8-bed room. We were however "upgraded" to a 4-bed room as the 8-beds weren't totally ready.
Hey LA peeps, new hotel alert: the Sydell Group, who is responsible for two of NYC's big-time, hip and happenin' hotels (Ace New York and The NoMad) is hard at work converting a 388-room hotel at 3515 Wilshire Blvd, in the Koreatown neighborhood of LA.
The hotel will be called The Line, and to better fit in with its surroundings, Sydell is planning to make it "the first lifestyle hotel of its kind in the US to draw upon Korean and Korean-American culture, food and design." Well! We didn't see that coming.
Koreatown has been likened to Bushwick in Brooklyn as LA's newest destination for young, artsy 20-somethings on the hunt for cheap rent. Which fits right in with Sydell's style—do you remember what the neighborhood surrounding the Ace New York was like before the Ace showed up? Yeah, nobody else does either. That's because Sydell managed to turn a formerly-dead midtown block into a trendy hangout spot by making the hotel the destination.
We're guessing they hope to re-create that success in LA with The Line when it opens next summer.
UPDATE 3.19.12: This property will definitely NOT be an Ace Hotel.
A recent blog post on design site, PSFK had our hearts aflutter with this headline, "Ace Hotel Miami Tests Whether Or Not Room Color Effects Your Mood" but when we clicked to read the story, it was actually about a color project at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. Not sure why PSFK messed up the headline but we started to wonder if an Ace Hotel really was coming to Miami.
That curiosity lead us to this post from Miami Rankings which had some good scoop:
We aren’t getting an Ace Hotel here in Miami but the Indian Creek Hotel on South Beach is going to be renovated and reopening as an upscale hostel (note the errant ‘s’ in that word) that is owned by the same folks who own the Ace Hotel in NYC and Palm Springs. But here’s the fun part–the Sydell Group’s properties include the following restaurants: The Breslin Bar and Dining Room, The John Dory Oyster Bar, No. 7 Sub, and others. Anticipated opening date: Fall 2012.
The Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale hasn't even been open for more than a month but it's already doing well enough to expand to Palm Springs. The LA Times reports that the Saguaro will take over the old Holiday Inn at Sunrise Way and East Palm Canyon Drive.
We've got word that the Saguaro Palm Springs will be very similar to the Scottsdale property featuring a complete redesign done by Stamberg Aferiat using vibrant colors inspired by the indigenous flowers of the region. And we presume there will also be a great F&B scene and a mucho affordable price point.
All this fun stuff means that the Ace Hotel Palm Springs, the reigning fun boutique spot in town, will have some fierce competition. (Not that it really matters though because the Sydell Group which owns the Ace is also opening the Saguaro PS.)
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The hotel that rocked the construction zone party is back for more—this time with a construction zone restaurant tour! Midtown's NoMad Hotel invited an editor from NBC's The Feast to take a look at the unfinished hotel's unfinished "urban playground" restaurant. And nothing get us in the mood to play more than drywall and exposed water pipes.
The restaurant, described as "fun" and "spontaneous" by chef Daniel Humm and GM Will Guidara, will center around a glass-pyramid-ceiling room known as "the atrium" (pictured). Interesting to have such a unique design be located only one block from the even-weirder protruding facade of the Gershwin Hotel. Perhaps there's more to south midtown than meets the eye...