Before becoming The Chatwal, A Luxury Collection, the iconic Standford White-designed building at 130 West 44th Street was the epicenter of American theater during the 20th century. It has now become one of New York’s prime boutique hotel’s and one with a memorable past.
I had arrived in New York for fashion week. It was autumn and the cool evenings and warm colored leaves instantly reminded me that I was close to where I grew up: Connecticut. One of the busiest times in the fashion calendar, between running to shows and evening events I decided on a hotel that appeared to have the classic, subdued and slightly dark New York character I so often craved while living far away in the desert climate of Dubai. It was The Chatwal. Located on 44th street in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district, this hotel went back in time to the iconic glamour of 1930s Gotham – an era in New York’s history known for its vibrant creativity, decadent parties and free-spirited men and woman who changed the course of history with their fabulous fun and games.
The hotel opened in September 2010 and marked the building’s return to its early twentieth century glamour. It was meticulously restored by renowned master architect and interior designer Thierry Despont. Each of the hotel’s 76 rooms, which includes 26 suites and 50 guestrooms has been wonderfully designed in a 1930s Empire Art Deco style including rich color schemes of blood red and light ochre as well as faux leather and wooden built-in cabinets. Despont has meticulously recreated this bygone era that it feels as if guests have stepped back in time. One of the highlights of each room is the mini-bar which takes up an entire floor-to-ceiling section of the closet and devised by chef Geoffrey Zakarian, also the director of the hotel’s renowned Lambs Club Restaurant.
Before the hotel became The Chatwal, A Luxury Collection, the iconic Standford White-designed building was one of the most pivotal places for American theater at the turn of the century. It opened in 1905 as the home of one of the country’s most prestigious theatrical clubs: the Lambs. The club was organized in 1874 by a group of actors and theater enthusiasts and had previously occupied a series of rented quarters before occupying the building on 44th street. Since its founding, there have been more than 6000 “Lambs” with such names as Fred Astaire and John Barrymore present within the group.
What’s admirable about The Chatwal’s current set-up and design is its clear insistence on recreating the memory and legend of this once crucial place for American theater – one which certainly contributed greatly to the development of Broadway.
Friendly bellboys dressed in traditional uniforms (who remembered my name throughout the duration of my stay) greeted me in the rather small yet classy lobby and escorted me to my room – the Director’s Suite. I was immediately impressed by my surroundings – ones which perfectly recalled the abode of a film director. Dimly-lit with oak furnishings and plush sofas and chairs, a dining table and decorated with a wide arrangement of memorabilia relating to art, design and film, this seemed to be the perfect hideaway in which to dream up one’s artistic creations. The suite comprises of two bedrooms on the penthouse floor. One bedroom has a king bed while the other room has two double beds. The Producer’s Suite nearby is similar in decor but at 2,500 square feet is larger in size – a two-bedroom duplex suite on the same floor with a staircase that leads to a private terrace – something which was lacking from most of the rooms but which wouldn’t offer much of a view given the hotel’s vicinity.The two suites can combine to form the four-bedroom Barrymore Suite.
Large and luxurious, the bathroom offers a huge walk-in shower with an oversized rainfall showerhead. There is also a 19-inch TV embedded in the mirror – that surprisingly unnoticeable when turned off blending seamlessly into the decor. The toilet has a seat warmer that also doubles as a bidet and the amenities come in the form of lovely Asprey toiletries. A big city feel, the bathroom is wonderfully spacious and has a big city feel that one can only equate with New York.
The height of my dining experience during my stay in New York was at hotel’s The Lambs Club Restaurant. Recreating the feel of a swanky dim-lit 1930s bar with wood paneled walls and high leather booths, the only light that radiates into the surroundings comes from the restaurant door that one must pass through via the bar, which is located at the far right side of the hotel’s snug Art Deco lobby. It is hard to tell whether it is night or day but that is surely the point – the venue allows guests to get lost in time and within their own quiet thoughts and intimate conversations.
Another highlight is the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. At 2,400 square feet, the spa features three expertly-appointed treatment rooms, three private changing suites with steam showers, and a manicure and pedicure studio. Red Door Spa’s menu of signature services offers skincare, massage, and body treatments, as well as nail care and Ms. Arden’s renowned wax services.
While I was not able to try the spa this time around, it is certainly on my list for my next New York trip as is The Chatwal. The hotel has an unmistakable charm that is not easy to come by in the growing popularity of boutique hotels around the world. This is because it has successfully merged the past with the present to recreate a place that offers a taste of an historical New York moment as well as luxurious and unforgettable getaway in the heart of Manhattan.
For information visit www.thechatwalny.com Tel: +1 2127646200.