Q: What is it? A: Possibly the answer to the question ”Do you know a good New York hotel, it doesn’t have to be fancy or luxurious, just nice and clean in a superb location… no, not Times Square but you know, nice… and yeah, it should have a cool bar and the staff need to be really, really awesum and some nice design is good and it must not cost that much… are there any hotels like that?”
It still looks like the old Marlton House from the outside. And the Village will soon be about as cool as when Beat poetry was around. And for sure I’ve been spending more time in this hood than ever before. But that may also be thanks to Neta, the sushi restaurant a little further down 8th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave).
There’s an explanation for the modest price tag: This used to be a SRO. Rooms are tiny. Or super-tiny. Or not enough to swing a cat in. For solo travelers they are fine, but you’d better be comfortable in each other’s company (or don’t fart!) to stay here as there is very little privacy inside the room.
Compared to everything else, the bathroom is surprisingly large. No, not large. Didn’t you read what I just wrote? It’s just pretty big in comparison. Which means standing room only. It looks nice, though. It’s also pretty functional, but I’m lacking certain amenities. Like a tissue box. Did you hear me, Marlton?
Proof that the Marlton is banking on its history. Or at least they want to come across as a bit of vintage. Old-looking lamps (but not cheap – these knobs were also dimmers) and a blender for the shower that really looked like yesteryears. It works fine, though. Water stays hot when you want it to.
Here’s a bit of logo porn. Watson & Company, the folks revamping the Marlton graphic identity did a decent job in most areas, including the bathrobes. The previous hotel, the Marlton House wasn’t as design savvy. The current hotel even invented a new category for itself: The baby grand hotel.
The home of the Mets needs more Marltons.
Yes, seriously. The idea is simple but to execute it properly is harder. This is a hotel where you won’t check out as a poor man. Rates are very sensible. This especially when considering that you will be treated like a guest and not like a problem. Staff are tops. This especially when considering that it’s a rather stylish place. Sean McPherson, the guy who gave new life to this hotel did a fine job with it. The result could have been much like a Disney resort but it honestly feels like something else, more genuine, despite opening in September 2013.
Did you just say ”New life to this hotel?”
You heard me right. This used to be a hotel not just for decades but for a century. Built in the year 1900 it served as a single room occupancy for folks who came and went, or stayed for months or years. Location and modest price tag made it popular amongst struggling actors, poets and artists. Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road, The Subterraneans* and Tristessa while living here. Actors Mickey Rourke and John Lithgow stayed here. And comedy legend Lenny Bruce while standing trial for obscenity. Even though the inside doesn’t really look like it used to, one thing remains: The small sizes of the rooms.
Yeah, what about rooms? They are small, aren’t they?
They really are. Small. Not small-ish. Not smaller than average. Small. As in tiny. But they are also very tastefully furnished. As are the public spaces. It could have been so easy. A few retro items from flea-markets, some industrial fittings and the ever so present antlers (how about a few stuffed animals?). Instead they recreated a French hôtel de charme (as opposed to a hôtel de luxe). Little brass-lamp-wielding hands, herringbone floors and regal wainscoting. A successful blend. For real.
This hotel will be cloned.
As long as you are prepared to compromise a little on the space of your living quarter, you will find this place absolutely ace. The hotelier’s ambition to create a spot where locals meet has obviously been successful. Front desk and doormen are notoriously friendly and chatty (in the best sense of the word). And the location… well, let’s just say that the Village is back. Sean MacPherson’s private tagline for the hotel was “Honey, I shrunk the Ritz.” A pretty accurate description. And he also shrunk the hotel bill. I will repeat myself: The Big Grapefruit needs more Marltons.
The Marlton Hotel
5 West 8th Street
New York City, NY 10011
Tell your cabbie: 8th Street and corner of 5th Avenue.
*Excerpt from The Subterraneans, by Jack Kerouac:
”While they ate in the kitchen I pretended to read. I pretended to pay no attention whatever. We went out for a walk the three of us and by now all of us vying to talk like three good friends who want to get in and say everything on their minds, a friendly rivalry–we went to the Red Drum to hear the jazz which that night was Charlie Parker with Honduras Jones on drums…”