Stay The Night: Hôtel Americano, New York
This addition to Manhattan's Chelsea district encapsulates the gentrification of a formerly commercial area
Attaching an enormous steel grille to the front of your hotel might not seem the best way to attract guests. Want to feel like a zoo animal?
Come on in! As it happens, the mesh façade of Hôtel Americano, New York's newest design hotel, is oddly impressive, an eye-catching addition to an otherwise unremarkable glass building. The imposing metal cloak also pulls off the remarkable trick of being almost invisible from the inside, the eye looking instinctively beyond it. This removes any caged-animal concerns, even if it turns the view a little grey.
The Americano, the latest project of the Mexican hotel group Habita, is in Manhattan's Chelsea district, an increasingly fashionable enclave on the West Side. That its nearest commercial neighbours are a minimalist art gallery and a scrap yard tell you a lot about the ongoing tussle between old-school commerce and the arty gentrification of this area.
It's the area's industrial heritage that led Mexican architect Enrique Norten to apply the iron grille, along with an exterior elevator that ferries you to the rooftop bar. Along with adding character to the façade, this prevents the lobby from being crowded with interlopers out for an evening drink (hotel guests use a separate interior lift).
Inside in the restaurant and reception areas, high ceilings, a rough-hewn concrete floor and vast grey pillars make for a boldly brutalist aesthetic. This is softened by beech panelling around the front desk and splashes of lime green in the swanky imported Dutch furniture. The juxtaposition is repeated in an outdoor ground-floor patio, which contrasts stone and metal furniture with luscious green foliage, all expertly backlit.
In the 56 rooms, grey floors and plain white walls are cheered up by brightly coloured desk "cubes" and groovy chaises longues. In some instances, style supersedes comfort, most notably in the black vinyl beanbags that are spectacularly uncomfortable and, at first glance, made me wonder if the hotel's cleaning staff had forgotten to take out the rubbish.
Elsewhere, the wooden platform beds, inspired by Japanese ryokans, make for a far more welcoming sight and they provide you with a glorious night's rest, while the in-room iPads, loaded with music, a guest directory and local information, are a smart extra touch.
The food and drink
The absence of cafés and restaurants in the vicinity means that food is pretty crucial here. Happily, all appetites and budgets are accommodated, from light snacks in the lobby bar to the full three-course fine dining experience in the ground floor restaurant. Showcasing Mexican and French influences, the lunch and dinner menus include chicken quesadillas, steak with chimichurri, and grilled octopus with black beans, rocket and tomato confit. There's even some heat in the breakfast menu in the form of chilaquiles – fried tortillas with green salsa and eggs – alongside the usual pastries and pancakes. Room service comes in neat little bento boxes.
Building work has just finished on a rooftop swimming pool, and on an atmospheric, if dimly lit, basement bar. In location terms, the real USP is the High Line, an old freight railway now paved and surrounded by pretty plants and trees, which skims the rear of the hotel. If you're looking for lunch or foodie presents to take home, head south to Chelsea Market, a pleasant 15-minute stroll away.
Both the reception area and restaurant are at street level and all floors are accessible by lifts, making Hôtel Americano ideally suited to wheelchair users. Children are welcome but pets are not.
Double rooms start at $296 (£197), room only.
Hôtel Americano, 518 West 27th Street, New York, United States (001 212 216 000; hotel-americano.com).
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...