Q: What is it? A: A fabulous, flawless, very fine hotel at the corner of Mercer and Prince.
Here we can all enjoy our 1.5 seconds of fame.
You enter the Mercer lobby and every single person on the premises will discreetly look your way. Quick scan while trying to determine whether this schmuck is someone or a nobody? You’ll soon see a pattern. Women in shades get the longest looks. Didn’t she look just like Scarlett? Wasn’t that the girl, you know… who played the schoolmistress in that movie made by the guy… or maybe the other guy… you know? Nondescript guys in their 40s (like myself) come in second, as we might very well be the aforementioned other guy or that European guy recently featured in Variety. A-listers won’t receive as much of the staring time as I do, as everybody will pretend to not look at a Clooney or a Crowe. So that’s that. With the Ulmer Scale out of the way, let’s now focus on the hotel.
The reason for staying here: Service!
Early check-in – no problem. Late check-out – no problem. No requests were handled as problems. They were handled with a smile. But on the other hand, I didn’t request them to send a pink grand piano to my room or that all the corridors would be repainted in pistage green. In all seriousness, the doormen and the staff at the front desk are better than great. And yes, you do pay a premium at the Mercer but not only will you get more and better service than elsewhere; you will also get more room. The hotel claims to be ”The first hotel to offer an authentic taste of loft living…” and I sort of agree. Take your regular-sized Manhattan hotel room and enlarge it 1.75 times and you’ll get the idea. Rooms are roomy.
”Open soonish” became an industry joke.
French designer Christian Liaigre made his reputation as an interiors minimalist with the wenge-wood-heavy decor for this hotel. Even though Liaigre has now updated some of the designs, pretty much of it remains unchanged. Hotelier André Balazs bought the property in 1989 and expected it to open in 1992, but due to engineering problems, the murder of a construction manager and some Japanese investors changing their minds, it took five extra years before the first guests were checking in.
But it’s the location and service that you will write home about. Not the design. Efforts have been made to create a subtle and functional design but it’s not glitzy, overly modern or funky. It just works. Also, the place is impeccably maintained. Dents and scratches are nowhere to be found, (Hey, 60 Thompson-management! Make a note of that!). If I can afford it, I’ll stay here often. That’s how good (and expensive) it is.
Bonus service: For a fee the hotel will take your dog for a walk.
147 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012
And while we’re at it: The restaurant in the basement, the Mercer Kitchen is still a busy place. I haven’t eaten there since 2000 but it remains under Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s wings. Even today, thirteen years later, I remember the crazy ravioli I had. If you’re lucky, it’s still on the menu.