Q: What is it? A: A hotel that was launched as a stylish budget-alternative in the Ian Schrager Hotels group. Not completely matching its ‘budget’ label, but still pretty stylish, 12 years after its opening.
Once built for the American Women’s Association…
The enormous 24-storey brick building was built in 1929 for the American Women’s Association. Some $125 million bought Ian Schrager a new façade, about 1000 rooms and a hotel that still, almost a decade after opening its doors to guests, offer you a surreal experience when entering. There are no signs. The façade is like a concrete monument of the secret police in the former DDR. The escalator taking you up through a narrow gangway-like passage is flooded in a poison-green light. The lobby is all brick walls and greenhouse roof. You feel like standing in a lively plaza checking in during busy hours, (and most hours are busy at the Hudson).
The whole hotel is like a social experiment…
If you feel like a stranger, the concept works. The Hudson is a place where everybody welcome new visitors. Most of them find themselves sitting in the same boat as you (and it took me a few visits to feel like home in this rather dramatic setting).
The bar is an after-work scene as well as a busy place later in the evening. The DJ is probably one of the best I’ve ever heard spinning wax in a hotel. Also, if you like people watching you will get more than you bargained for. J-Lo and Christina Aguilera may still be regular guests. This creates unexpected problems, though. If you, (like me), are carrying a slightly larger camera, the people hired as security by the stars may turn evil. Yes, they may take you for a paparazzo. It happened to me more than once. Should it happen to you, keep a low profile wave your guest card and ask the hotel staff manning the door to help you through the muscle barrier.
Most of all I like the Library.
Any drawbacks? When it opened in the fall 2000, this corner of Manhattan, close to the Columbus Circle was a white spot on the NYC nightlife map. The completion of the Time/Warner building just a block away changed that, but no… you don’t live in the epicenter of the action. Plus, expect the rooms to be small, or even ultra-small. Some are no larger than the cabin of an ocean liner. My favourite spot is The Library: A bar with a purple pool table (check the pic above) and a huge Ingo Maurer hanging above it. You feel like having a drink in a very updated old men’s club that suddenly decided to allow beautiful women in. Bookshelves cover the walls. To me it feels homey.
Whatever you do, don’t miss breakfast!
The Vouge Magazine quickly labeled the typical Hudson guest as “a creative type with more dash than cash”. Sure thing. But this is a good hotel. To be more accurate it’s a very good hotel where the busy nightlife comes as a bonus. Not to be missed: Order the breakfast buffet in The Cafeteria, (yes, it’s expensive but never mind), then feast on raspberries and blackberries until you can’t eat no more. Fruits and berries are a superb way to start a day in the town that refers to itself as an apple.
356 West 58th Street
New York, NY 10019