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Stay the night: The Greenwich Hotel
Sunday 28 September 2008
As an actor, Robert De Niro is a famous perfectionist. And he's just as obsessive as a hotelier. The Greenwich opened only this month, but so far this year De Niro has fitted three fireplaces in its library – the first two weren't quite right. Meanwhile, the underground swimming pool is housed inside the framework of a 250-year-old Japanese bamboo farmhouse that was shipped over and rebuilt by the only man who still knows how such buildings are constructed.
The Greenwich is an unmarked brick building in TriBeCa. You'd swear it was a restored warehouse or office block. In fact, until recently, the site was a car park. De Niro has spared no expense creating the feel of a comfortable old clubland hotel. The wood is reclaimed; the fading mirrors came from the Flatiron building; and the bricks were hand made to give them a 1920s patina. The decor combines oriental rugs and Buddhist statuary with leather sofas, marble counters from Peru, terracotta tiles from Italy and paintings by De Niro's artist father, Josef. It's eclectic and deceptively casual. The whole place is a performance – but what a performance!
No two rooms are the same. There are 72 in all, plus 16 suites. Particularly engaging are the corner suites with window seats and the rooms with wrought-iron balconies overlooking a large Mediterranean-style courtyard at the back. Toiletries are by Red Flower and the complimentary condoms have a theatrical touch, being labelled with one of Shakespeare's less fortunate lines "This is thy sheath" (Romeo and Juliet, Act V, Scene 3).
The food and drink
One of De Niro's favourite chefs, Agostino Sciandri, set up the restaurant that bears his name. This, the latest Ago, is located in a ground-floor corner of the hotel. Excellent service complements innovative Italian country cuisine. Specialities include T-bone steaks (cooked in the wood-fired pizza oven), burrata, thin-crust pizzas and homemade sorbet. Allow $100-$120 (£54-£65) per person for a three-course meal, depending on wine.
Unusually for such a popular hotel, the spa, sitting rooms and library are reserved solely for guests. Service is impeccable, with Timo, the concierge, quickly becoming your best friend.
There are adapted rooms for wheelchair access. The hotel encourages children, offering rollaway beds at no additional charge in select rooms. Pets of any size are more than welcome, and are offered pet bowls and pet beds.
Doubles range from $625 (£337) to $2,250 (£1,213) per night.
The address, The Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich Street, New York NY 10013 (001 212 941 8900; thegreenwichhotel.com).
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