The seemingly relentless pace of Manhattan hotel openings slowed this year, which made the spring opening of The NoMad Hotel even more eagerly awaited. I assumed the name was a slightly irksome nod to the modern traveller. Not so – NoMad takes its cue from the neighbourhood, North of Madison Square Park.
True, it doesn't have the same tree-lined charm as nearby Greenwich Village, but being this close to the centre of Manhattan has its benefits, even if The NoMad Hotel stands as a beacon of chic amid a jumble of shops selling tourist tat. That said, The NoMad's owners, the Sydell Group, has form when it comes to marrying less than desirable locations with destination hotels.
The NoMad is a more sophisticated sibling to Ace Hotel, one block north, which opened four years ago and is also home to the fashionable Breslin Bar and Grill and John Dory Oyster Bar, overseen by chef du jour, April Bloomfield.
The transformation of the 1903-built Beaux-Arts building, in which NoMad stands, was entrusted to Jacques Garcia, the French architect whose previous projects include Hôtel Costes in Paris and La Mamounia and the soon-to-open Delano, both in Marrakech. The NoMad's look is classic Garcia – complementing the architectural features with his penchant for dim lighting and richly textured fabrics such as velvet and silk in deep, autumnal colours. It's sleeker and more refined than the industrial chic of Ace Hotel.
The NoMad's impressive public spaces are still basking in the newly opened buzz, so don't expect a quiet post-prandial at the bar. We were slightly put off, not by the throng, but by being asked if we had a reservation, even though as guests we just wanted to take a look around. This aside, staff were young, chirpy and eager.
The NoMad restaurant is an offshoot of Eleven Madison Park, the much-hyped three-Michelin-starred eatery run by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. It is intended to be more accessible, relatively speaking – one of its specials is an $80 (£53) roast chicken basted with truffles and foie gras. From today, it will also serve brunch. It is housed in an impressive space adorned with 100 framed pressed herbs from Deyrolle, Paris, which fashions quirky decor from the natural world such as taxidermy, shells and botanical prints. The Library, with its arresting two-tier mezzanine, has a collection put together by Thatcher Wine, founder of boutique publisher Juniper Books.
Concept stores seem to have replaced spas as the latest hotel must-have, and NoMad has teamed up with the Parisian clothing label Maison Kitsuné, and also stocks leather accessories by WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie and Monocle.
On Broadway and 28th Street. Immediately south is Flatiron and Gramercy; Midtown and Times Square lie just north, while the West Village, Greenwich Village and the Meatpacking District are not far. What the neighbourhood lacks in charm it makes up for in convenience. It still has a way to go before it eclipses SoHo or Greenwich, but there's a clutch of good restaurants: a few blocks south of The NoMad is celebrity chef Mario Batali's behemoth Italian food and wine market, Eataly, as well as Danny Meyer's Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.
There are 168 rooms in five categories – mainly differing in size and views – with two sprawling suites, the NoMad and the Suite Royale. Garcia's decor harks back to his childhood memories of Parisian apartments – the palette is subdued and masculine with plums, tobaccos, reds and golds.
My "atelier" room on the eighth floor had views of the Empire State Building. There were highly polished maple floors, a vintage rug, antique glass bedside tables, an embossed leather headboard, a cute writing desk, an artfully battered leather club chair and a cashmere throw folded at the end of the bed.
The functional details are no less impressive: the minibar is disguised as a travelling trunk, while an upholstered screen conceals the bathroom, which is classic marble mosaic with a twist of Art Deco. Rooms in the "atelier" category and above mostly feature claw-foot freestanding baths. There are also Argan oil toiletries from cult French brand Côte Bastide. Top marks for complimentary internet, daily newspapers, an iHome dock, and TV with movies on demand.
1170 Broadway, New York City, US (001 212 796 1500; thenomadhotel.com).
Double rooms sta rt at $455 (£303), room only.Reuse content