The Maritime Hotel, Meatpacking District, Manhattan, NYC, NY ****

Q: What is it? A: Four facts: 1) A hotel balancing on the edge of Chelsea and Meatpacking. 2) Modernist building by architect Albert C. Ledner with 3) cruise ship-like rooms with porthole windows and 4) a very helpful staff.

Maritime Hotel, Manhattan, New York – modernist exterior
A modernist dream: Built at the end of the 60s as the offices for the National Maritime Union and its pension fund, later a runaway shelter and since 2003 a good hotel, although with queen beds only.

Maritime Hotel, Manhattan, New York – round window
Almost a trademark of the three Maritime Union-buildings (not all of them have been converted into hotels): Round windows. 5-foot porthole windows. All rooms got’em.

Maritime Hotel, Manhattan, New York – bedroom
Something to remember when booking the Maritime Hotel: There are no rooms with twin beds. Only Kings and Queens. Which in turn means that if you’re going on a conference with a colleague, you’d better be good enough friends.

Maritime Hotel, Manhattan, New York – bathroom
As they say to promote themselves: ”Oversize towels” and ”Bigelow bathroom amenities”. C. O. Bigelow is New York’s oldest apothecary, founded in 1838 in New York’s Greenwich Village, not too many shampoo bottle-throws away from the hotel.

Maritime Hotel, Manhattan, New York – lobby
The lobby. It’s unlike most lobbies I’ve been in: There’s not much light. But there are huge blue carpets with the hotel logo woven into them. Hundreds of hotel logos. There’s also a fireplace at the short end.

Maritime Hotel, Manhattan, New York – model of Titanic
The maritime theme is very much present at the Maritime Hotel. Are you able to read the brass plate beneath this particular ship model? Uhu, correct. That would be the RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) Titanic.

Why is it not so well-known?
Definitely not as talked about as other hotels in the area. One website puts it quite well: ”…luxury-level comfort at a very reasonable price (thanks, in part, to its slip off the “cool kid” radar…)”. Much of its magnetism disappeared after the Standard hotel opened in 2009. The Soho House takes care of the A-listers. It’s not smack-in-the-middle of the Meatpacking District, but rather balancing on the border of Meatpacking and Chelsea. But again, it offers comfort and a rather high level of service and you will walk away without your plastic bleeding afterwards.

Let’s talk architecture, shall we?
It was designed in 1966 as the headquarters for the National Maritime Union and its pension fund. Albert C. Ledner, an architect from New Orleans, created three pretty offbeat buildings for them in the 1960s. He played around with modernism but added a little sense of humor. Modernism was a rather strict movement and the five-foot portholes weren’t applauded. Later the building was converted into a shelter for runaway youth and even later came the Chinese students, artists and businesspeople. In 2001 it was finally sold to a group of developers. Some USD 33 million and two years later it opened with 120 guest rooms and four suites each facing west with a view of New Jersey and the Hudson river.

So what is it like to stay there?
Expect small rooms if you’re not booking yourself any of the suites or the penthouse on the top floor. Not only the porthole window makes you feel like you’re on the seven seas – the built-in furniture and the teak wood-interior have lent a few chords from a modern ocean liner. Yes, modern. You won’t find a lot of nostalgia, bar the ship models in the lobby. The ground floor is home to La Bottega, an Italian trattoria. In the basement, the Matsuri restaurant has been replaced by Tao, a rather huge Japanese/Asian restaurant which is essentially a more stylish Ruby Foo.

Ask for help. You’ll get it.
I’m a rather big fan of this hotel and that’s not just because I happen to like porthole windows. The impression from my first stay in 2004 was reinforced lately. The staff is there to help. A very late request for a limo is taken care of swiftly and without any hassle. In fact, front desk is very friendly and service-minded. The Maritime is by no means not an expensive hotel by New York-standards, but make sure you check the room rates, as they fluctuate in an almost Nasdaq-like way. And once again; only Queen and King beds are available, but if you’re planning to spoon your colleague in the near future, this may be a fine place to do so!

The Maritime Hotel
363 W. 16th St.
New York, NY 10011
United States


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